If you’re looking into how to marry a friend or relative, you’re probably most interested in either 1) becoming ordained, or 2) being a temporary officiant. As in all things of legal importance when it comes to marriage (like getting your marriage license), the regulations for performing a legal marriage ceremony vary from state to state. I won’t attempt to summarize the ins and outs of all the variations of the 50 states here, as the differences are mind-boggling crazy (more on this to come), but here are the basics to get you started, and confidently headed in the right direction.
As always when it comes to marriage, check out the requirements in the state and county where you are going to be performing the marriage ceremony. In some states, the laws are much clearer and stricter, while in other states things can be a little loosey goosey. Either way, you want to know what the requirements are wherever you’re performing the ceremony.
Get the necessary documents in place
If you need to get the government’s OK to perform the ceremony by becoming a temporary officiant or getting a one-day marriage designation, then that’s the most important thing to do. Any marriage ceremonies performed without the appropriate paperwork in a state that requires that it approves temporary officiants may be considered… well… null and void. So make sure to do your due diligence to see if it is necessary to be approved by the state to marry two people and, if so, what that process is.
Or get ordained (if that’s cool with your state)
In some states, you don’t need government documents to marry people — you can be ordained by a religious organization instead. Though this sounds rather complicated, it can actually be the least complicated of all the ways to go about marrying a friend or relative in some states. Organizations like the Universal Life Church Monastery and the American Marriage Ministries will ordain people who want to perform a marriage ceremony with a few clicks of the mouse. With that said, some states require that an ordained minister actually have a ministry or congregation to legally marry people — so again, know what your state does and doesn’t require.
If the people you are marrying are interested in having a spiritual or religious component to their ceremony but live in a state where you need to have a state-approved, one-day marriage designation, then you could likely do both — become a temporary officiant and an ordained minster. Though it sounds rather complicated to tackle both, the states I have worked (Vermont and Massachusetts) in make it pretty simple to get a one-day marriage designation, and the Universal Life Church Monastery and American Marriage Ministries make it insanely simple to become ordained as a minister.
So make your next online research stop the state’s official website of where you are going to marry the couple, and then move on to the fun stuff like what to talk about during the marriage ceremony… and what not to talk about during the marriage ceremony. Most importantly, keep calm and marry on!
Images: barrydadon/Pixabay; Somerby Jones Photography. This article was first published on Bustle.com.