How To Set Up A Legal Wedding Officiant Business
Becoming an officiant is hopefully not a decision youve made lightly. Many people started off their officiant careers after performing a wedding for a loved one, and fell in love with it. It is a very rewarding career path, but it is not as easy as many people think it is. There are legalities and stresses that come with it. We want you to have all of the information needed to help you decide which direction you want to go in. While there are challenges, it can be a very lucrative business. It is also up to you on how many weddings you want to officiate each week. Its all up to you!
There are many variables that go into setting up a legal business of any kind, and each state, county, and city may have legal requirements that differ from other locations. Consult your tax advisor or attorney to assist with setting up your business and obtaining the proper licenses for your location. It is imperative that you know the laws in your state and county. Get this information directly from the courthouse. Many local governments have official government websites where you can also get information about creating a legal business in your area.
Discuss The Couple’s Overall Vision For The Ceremony
Sit down and walk through the ceremony outline with the couple, as each will want something different. With religious ceremonies, there’s a reasonably set pattern and format, but with secular weddings, the couples sometimes want to throw out the entire playbook. It’s key to talk to them upfront so you can understand their vision for the ceremony.
Once you’ve figured out all of the deadlines, write them down. Mark up a calendar to outline when you need to have your documents by, when fees need to be paid, and when you need to have the couple’s marriage license turned in.
What Should Your Officiant Wear
It doesn’t hurt to discuss what your officiant will wear to your ceremony. Remember, they will be front and center along with you and your spouse, which means they’ll be in some of the most important pictures of your life. Make sure they don’t overdress or underdress for the ceremony so that their outfit doesn’t distract from the overall magic of your big moment.
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State Of California Marriage Requirements
Only two unmarried persons who are at least 18 years of age with valid legal identification may apply for a marriage license in California. Anyone under 18 must obtain a court order through the Juvenile Court system.
California residency and US citizenship are not requirements for marriage in California
At the time of applying for a California marriage license, one or both parties may elect to change the middle and/or last names by which each party wishes to go by after marriage. *See Name Changes for more information
A ceremony must occur within 90 days from the date the license is issued. *A ceremony may take place anywhere within the State of California
The marriage ceremony must be performed by an authorized person defined in CA Family Code Section 400 Please visit California Legislative Information for the full Family Code sections.
How To Get Ordained In California To Officiate
You’ve arrived at the California marriage laws guide! Whether you’re officiating your first wedding, or if it’s been awhile since your last, it’s always a good idea to check up on the local marriage laws. To make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, we recommend reviewing this guide we’ve put together. Among other things, it will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to ensure the wedding is legal in California.
Below are is the simple checklist one must follow to officiate a wedding:
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Do You Need Contracts For Wedding Officiant Services
Many officiants choose to have the couple sign a contract, and we strongly suggest you do so. Our Facebook group offers a few samples, but we suggest that you let your attorney review it. The contract will spell out who is responsible for what, and by when, which will help avoid any issues that may crop up in the future.
How To Perform A Wedding
Congratulations, you’re ready to officiate the wedding! If you need any assistance in this important task, we encourage you to utilize the tools below. Together these exclusive resources include everything you’ll need to craft the perfect wedding ceremony for any couple. Created with our ministers in mind, they offer tips and helpful information for all aspects of performing a ceremony. Fun fact: many ULC ministers have become professional officiants using these tools as a guide!
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Do You Have To Have Your Own Business
If this all seems overwhelming, there is an option to find a company that has a network of officiants that can use your services. They do all the marketing for you. This could be a great option for those who are getting started and are feeling overwhelmed with getting started. There may or may not be any of these companies in your area, but if so, check with them to see if you might be able to be a part of their coop.
Civil Marriage Ceremonies At The County
The County has everything you need for a civil marriage ceremony:
A wedding chapel
Youll need to reserve the chapel in person ceremonies are scheduled for 10-minute blocks of time, Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. You can purchase additional ten-minute blocks for a longer ceremony.
The chapel seats 15 people.
- A wedding official who marries you.
- A witness to the weddingbring a friend or family member to witness the event or, for a fee, the county can provide a witness.
- Wedding rings .
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Register With The State If Required
Check the state and county statutes where the ceremony is taking place to see if you have to register as the officiant before the ceremony. In most states, you can perform marriage as soon as you are ordained. Still, some will require ministers to register with a government office before the ceremony, which means you may have to send away for specific documentation and credentials. Find a current directory of all the states and their minister registration policies here.
Officiating Weddings In California
After getting ordained, your next task is to reach out to the government office where the couple will be applying for their marriage license . Explain that youre ordained through the Universal Life Church and ask them what the requirements are in that area to officiate a wedding ceremony. Marriage officials sometimes ask that you present documentation before they will give the green light to proceed.
Choose the county youd like to contact from the dropdown menu below to see their offices information.
Select your County Clerk to quickly generate the contact information for your local marriage authority.
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Check Your Local Laws
Because you will be fulfilling the legal duty of certifying a marriage license as a wedding officiant, you need to familiarize yourself with the local laws anywhere you will be performing a wedding ceremony. Check the wedding officiant laws by state, and also research at the county and city level to see what the different rules and regulations are for marriage officiants. In some states, practically anyone can perform a wedding ceremony in others, it can be next to impossible to get legal authorization to perform marriages unless you are the minister at a church with an active congregation. Most states in the US have fairly relaxed requirements for who can legally perform a wedding ceremony, but certain states like West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Arkansas have laws that make it extremely difficult to obtain authorization to perform marriages and prior registration and approval from the court is required.
Is This Really Free What’s The Catch
There’s no catch! This is a completely free service that we are happy to provide to our ministers. That said, please note that in some states there may be additional registration requirements beyond simply becoming a minister. In those states, you may need to order registration materials from our store.
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Start Preparing For The Wedding Ceremony
Your next step is to learn how to officiate a wedding ceremony. If you have no experience, you are in good hands. Our California Wedding Officiant Preparation Guide covers all aspects of how to prepare for a wedding ceremony.You will learn everything from the format for a wedding ceremony, the names of the ceremony parts, how to write a wedding ceremony, and more.
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What Is A Wedding Officiant
A wedding officiant is the leader of the wedding ceremony. They work with the couple to prepare materials for the ceremony and perform the marriage on the day-of.
According to expert Natasha Anakotta, an officiant can expect to spend “anywhere from six months to a full year before the ceremony” preparing and officiating each wedding. “This allows enough time for ordering credentials and official documents, completing minister registration, working with the couple on the ceremony creation, practicing, and working out the logistics and details,” Anakotta says.
Meet the Expert
Natasha Anakotta is the Outreach & Operations Manager at American Marriage Ministries .
The upsides of getting a loved one or family acquaintance to officiate your wedding are plentiful: It’s more intimate and personal than having a stranger officiate, it’s less expensive than hiring somebody, and it’s a very special way to include them in your big day. Read on for a complete guide to officiating, from getting ordained to writing the actual ceremony.
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Can Your Friend Or Family Member Officiate Your Wedding
Ordination requirements differ from state to state and even from county to county and city to city. Step one is to do your research and make sure your friend or family member is legally able to officiate your wedding. In some states, for example, a couple doesn’t even need an officiant, while in others, only pastors can perform a wedding.
You’ll want to do your research first to make sure you’re following local state or district rules. For example, in New York City, your officiant will have to register with the court at the city clerk’s office.
Become Ordained As A Minister
The very first step to take when officiating a wedding is to get ordained! Becoming a minister will grant you the authority to perform legal wedding ceremonies across the United States. Best of all? We make this process easy and quick to complete the whole thing takes just a few minutes. To get started, visit our ordination page and input some basic details. Once you press submit, your ordination will be swiftly processed.
The ULC welcomes anyone to become ordained who feels so-called. The only requirements are that you must be over 18 years of age and promise to abide by the Churchs two tenets: do that which is right, and respect the freedom of others to worship however they choose.
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How To Perform A Marriage In California
With all that covered, youre almost ready to officiate the ceremony! A few quick pointers on marriage licenses:
Be sure the couple receives a California marriage license in advance of the ceremony.
The license will be valid for 90 days, and California does not require any waiting period
Dont forget that the completed license has to be returned within 10 days following the date of the wedding.
Once youve touched base with the couple about these legal aspects, then its time to focus on the ceremony itself! Officiating a marriage ceremony is no small task, but the Universal Life Church has spent years developing resources to support its ministers in performing this important service. Dont hesitate to visit our Wedding Training Center for tips, tools, and advice covering every aspect of the officiating process. More experienced officiants or those looking to go even deeper in their preparations may be interested in the wedding books offered in our online catalog, such as this popular wedding guide.
How To Become An Ordained Minister In Riverside County
Becoming an ordained minister via the Universal Life Church is the first step in the officiating process. Just fill out the ordination form on our website and submit your application to become a minister. Once processed, youll officially be recognized as a member of the ULC! Just click the ordination button below to begin.
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Learning To Be A Wedding Officiant
There are many courses and classes that you can take to learn how to be an officiant. We suggest waiting to see if you can get started with help from the Wedding Officiants of America Facebook group and this guide before spending money on classes and coaches. There are no associations or memberships that you need to join at this time. Save money and spend your time gathering information and learning the basics for free for now.
The Officiant Directory is dedicated to the education and support of officiants. We work to maintain the integrity of our profession so that our services are valued. The Officiant Directory is quickly becoming the best resource for couples looking for a professional and ordained officiant to perform their wedding.
Likewise, if you would like to participate in lively discussion regarding officiating join us in the Facebook group Wedding Officiants Of America. We are all inclusive and can offer support and tips on performing all types of ceremonies, including LGBT weddings, Interfaith, handfastings, vow renewals, and commitment ceremonies. Couples are constantly coming up with new fun ideas for ceremonies, and we must be ready! With over 1,200 members and growing, there is always someone to help. It is also a great group to vent about that problem couple, share wins, and celebrate our businesses.
S To Getting Ordained
The timeline and procedure will vary depending on the organization. Your ordination could take one day to register online, or it could be longer if your ordination service requires training or coursework before theyll ordain you. Look for a reputable one that offers basic, fast, and free ordination online but has additional offerings and support staff to answer your questions.
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