Getting married is one of the most significant milestones in a couple's life. When it comes to the wedding ceremony, finding the right officiant is crucial. In recent years, online ordination has become increasingly popular, providing couples with a more personalized touch to their wedding ceremony. However, many people wonder whether online-ordained ministers are legally recognized.
What states allow online ordained ministers?
You can legally get married by an online-ordained minister in most states. The American Marriage Ministries (AMM) and Universal Life Church, two of the largest online-ordination platforms, have successfully had their ministers officiate weddings in all 50 states, including those previously considered difficult. With the exception of Virginia and currently questionable rules in Tennessee, ordinations should be valid in every State and US Territory.
However, the laws regarding marriage and officiants vary from state to state, and county to county. Therefore, it's critical to check with the local county clerk where the couple is getting married to ensure that a wedding ceremony performed by an officiant that gets ordained online is legally recognized. Some states require ministers to be part of a physical religious organization, while others don't. Some states require ministers to have a physical presence in the state, while others don't.
It's important to note that even if a state recognizes online-ordained ministers, there may be specific requirements that the minister must meet. For instance, some states require ministers to file additional paperwork or obtain a license to officiate a wedding.
What states require officiants to register with a government office?
The below is information from American Marriage Ministries as of 4/14/2023:
Even if a state recognizes online-ordained ministers, they may not be able to officiate weddings in another state. Some states require non-resident officiants to obtain a special license or register with the state to officiate a wedding. Therefore, it's important to check with the state's laws where you plan to get married.
- New Hampshire: required for non-residents
- New York
- Puerto Rico
- Vermont: required for non-residents
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
What states don't require officiants to register with a government office?
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee - but make sure to contact the localcounty clerk due to confusing laws here
Additionally, if you're planning to get married in another country, you may need to obtain additional documentation or have your online-ordained minister go through a formal application process. It's critical to research the country's laws where they plan to get married and consult with the local embassy or consulate.
In conclusion, getting married by an online-ordained minister is legally recognized in most states, but the laws regarding marriage and officiants vary from state to state, and county to county. Therefore, it's important to check with your local county clerk's office ensure that your wedding ceremony is legally recognized. Additionally, if you plan to get married in another state or country, it's important to research and comply with the applicable laws and requirements.