If you are considering a career as a professional wedding officiant, or if you have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony for a friend or family member, chances are that you will need to get ordained. While some states make allowances for civil officiants without the need for any type of credentials or ordination, most states require at least an online ordination in order to qualify to perform a legal marriage. A simple search brings up many different options for getting ordained online – how do you know which service to choose?
At WeddingOfficiants.com – The Wedding Officiant Directory, we’ve been working with couples and officiants for more than 15 years and are very familiar with the process of getting ordained, and what options are available to anyone seeking online ordination.
If you are interested in being ordained in order to become a wedding officiant, we highly recommend taking a look at our Officiant Resources page, which has several high-quality articles and excellent advice for professional wedding officiants including our popular “How To Become a Wedding Officiant” page. In addition to being home to the Wedding Officiant Directory, WeddingOfficiants.com is a fantastic business resource for officiants. ministers, celebrants, pastors, rabbis, and cantors. We are here to support you in your wedding officiant career, take a look at our membership options today!
To be ordained means to be appointed as a member of the clergy of a religious organization such as a church, ministry, or synagogue. In layman’s terms, it means to be officially authorized as a priest, minister, rabbi, cantor, or equivalent religious title. Ordination is an official act performed under the authority of a religious organization’s charter or bylaws, making the person who is ordained an official representative of that organization to some extent, as prescribed by the organization. Churches will often have several different classes of ordination, with varying limitations on the authority of the person who carries that specific ordination. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on ordination for the purposes of performing legal marriage ceremonies, although ordination can often confer authority to perform a number of religious rites and duties outside of officiating weddings.
“When you get ordained you have the freedom to officiate weddings for family and friends.” – Justin Hartley, Open Ministry
Getting Ordained to Perform a Wedding
While there are many reasons for someone to want to get ordained, the most common reason is in order to officiate a wedding ceremony. Most states in the US have minimal legal requirements for who can perform a wedding ceremony, the most common requirement being that the person officiating the ceremony is an ordained minister of some sort. This has led to a number of services offering ordination online with a range of prices, features, and additional services offered.
With so many options available for ordination, how do you evaluate each of them and decide which service to use for your own ordination? The answer to this question depends on your reasoning for getting ordained in the first place. For instance, if you are planning on becoming ordained to perform a wedding ceremony for your friends or family members and are only planning on doing one wedding, you won’t need to consider when your ordination would expire. If you are planning on becoming a professional wedding officiant and doing multiple weddings, however, you should consider the amount and frequency of any required renewal of your ordination.
The number one factor to consider is whether that specific ordination will enable you to legally perform weddings in the state (or states) where you want to do weddings. Ministerial credentials which would be perfectly acceptable in Maryland, for example, may not be accepted in neighboring Virginia where the laws for officiants are much more stringent. For this reason, many professional wedding officiants will carry multiple ordinations from a variety of sources for use in different locations depending on the local requirements.
Get Ordained Online
Some professional officiants have the benefit of formal seminary training and ordainment through a traditional church or synagogue, but many officiants don’t have the option (or the desire) of becoming ordained through their local church. While there are many different options for getting ordained online, it’s important to be aware of the fact that, from the standpoint of a professional wedding officiant, not all ordinations are created equal in the eyes of state and local governments. Legal precedent for the challenge of ordinations at the state level dates back to the 1970’s, when some jurisdictions decided to challenge the rights of ministers ordained through the Universal Life Church to perform legal marriage ceremonies. While there have been many court cases in multiple states regarding these types of ordinations and most states accept them without issue, it’s often left to the discretion and legal understanding of a local court clerk to determine whether to accept a minister’s credentials in areas where prior authorization is required.
… if you don’t do it properly, you can put the bridal couple in serious legal jeopardy.” – David Jackson, First Nation Church & Ministry
In order to determine the best source(s) for your legal ordinations, check the local laws in the state you wish to perform a wedding. Also note that the requirements for officiant ordination may vary at the state, county, and city level so be sure to check with the appropriate jurisdiction and become familiar with the local rules and regulations. Depending on how restrictive the laws are in your area, or if you are planning on performing wedding ceremonies in multiple states, it may be necessary to obtain additional ordinations in order to meet the requirements for each jurisdiction.
Given the potential for issues regarding the acceptance of online ordinations in certain states and cities, we recommend doing some research on each service you are considering in order to determine whether their ordination is likely to be accepted where you wish to perform weddings. If it’s unclear whether that service’s ordination will work in your area, we highly recommend contacting them for clarification – don’t assume that your state or city will accept the ordination unless it’s explicitly stated on their website. In several of the more restrictive states such as Massachusetts, West Virginia, Ohio, and Louisiana, it may be necessary for you to obtain and provide additional documentation such as a letter of good standing or endorsement in order to get authorized to perform legal marriages there.
Online Ordination Reviews
As a service to aspiring and professional wedding officiants, WeddingOfficiants.com surveyed the top online ordination providers and created a comparison chart below to help you evaluate your options. Also included is our review rating on a five-star scale, based on our internal evaluation of each service’s offerings, cost, reputation, responsiveness, and the likelihood the ordination will be accepted in all jurisdictions in the United States. We highly recommend using this chart to make your decision about getting ordained online:
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* This ordination service was contacted but has not provided answers to our survey, and has not yet been rated.
Become an Ordained Wedding Officiant
Getting ordained is only one step towards a career as a professional wedding officiant, albeit a very important one. If you are considering performing wedding ceremonies professionally, we highly recommend reading our article “How to Become a Wedding Officiant” to help you get started. WeddingOfficiants.com – The Wedding Officiant Directory also offers a number of high-quality, affordable options to be listed in our officiant directory and attract more couples seeking your services. Use the button below to search for officiants in your area, or click here to view our membership packages!