Whether you want to officiate only one wedding or do it as a career, you need to know how to become a wedding officiant. This is a career path you can choose. However, some become wedding officiants just for one wedding.
It can be exciting and a challenge to officiate a wedding. For many, it’s an experience they will never forget. But, of course, if you decide to do this as a career, it can become a rewarding job opportunity.
Before you decide to become a wedding officiant, you should understand this position. It’s also good to know how to become a wedding officiant. Let’s look at both a bit closer.
Job Duties of a Wedding Officiant
Of course, the main duty is to officiate wedding ceremonies. They must make sure the state’s marriage laws are followed during the ceremony to make it official. This includes witnessing the consent of the couple and the signing of the marriage license.
Along with the main duties, wedding officiants will also:
- Make sure the marriage license is properly filled out based on the state laws
- Organize the wedding party and lead the wedding rehearsal
- Write and perform the actual ceremony
- Help plan the ceremony for couples
If you decide to go into business as a wedding officiant, you will also need to handle the marketing to find clients. This may include social media marketing, blogging, and other online marketing. You will also need to take care of other business duties, such as accounting.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in 4 Steps
Step #1 – Get Ordained
This is the only necessary step to become a wedding officiant. Depending on your state laws, you can get ordained right online. It can be done simply by providing the right information for your ordination.
Some states require you to be a judge or ordained clergy to perform a wedding. Other states don’t even require ordination. However, it’s important to become ordained, and there are many benefits to a religious ordination for wedding officials.
If you gain a religious ordination, you will have the legal authorization to perform marriage ceremonies. You will be able to use your religious ordination credentials, and you will likely find it easier to sell your services as a wedding officiant.
Many couples will choose a religious figure to perform their wedding ceremony. However, even if they are not religious, they may help make guests more comfortable, especially if they grew up in a religious family.
You can get ordained as a wedding officiant online. However, not all ordinations are the same. Always check the local and state laws. Some states may not accept all online ordinations.
Step #2 – Become a Master of Your Craft
While you don’t need this step to become a wedding officiant, it will help you gain more success. As a wedding officiant, the best thing you can do to hone your skills is to book as many weddings as possible. Some of the other things you can do to help master your craft include:
- Working with couples to help them plan the ceremony
- Becoming comfortable speaking in front of groups
- Learning how to write custom wedding scripts
- Learning the market for your services and the proper rates to charge
- Gain feedback from couples to help improve your services
Using these tips can help you master your craft as a wedding officiant.
Step #3 – Market Your Services
If this is your career choice, marketing will become the bread and butter of your business. You will need a website, social media, and at least some business cards. Networking at wedding trade shows can be very helpful, and you can even partner with other officiants to help when they become overbooked.
As a business owner, you will need to bring in new clients and book weddings regularly. Since this is not an area where you can count on repeat business, you need to become great at marketing.
Step #4 – Join the Officiant Association
As a wedding officiant, you want to join the IAPWO (International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants). This is one of the best things you can do. The IAPWO offers many networking opportunities, educational content, and many discounts for things you need. They also hold an annual wedding officiant conference.
Understanding Legal Intent and Civil Ceremonies
Your state will have specific laws and requirements about how a marriage license is to be signed. They will also have requirements for the wedding ceremony and what will constitute a legal marriage. It doesn’t matter how large or small the ceremony is. As a wedding officiant, you have to make sure these requirements are met.
If you become a religious officiant, you will likely have specific religious guidelines to follow, too. In some cases, the requirements are as simple as asking the couple if they are sure they want to be married. If they provide verbal consent, you’re good to go. In other states, there may be a bit more to it.
It’s also important for the officiant to ensure the marriage license is filed properly with the county clerk. Sometimes, the couple will do this on their own. Other times, you will be responsible for filing the marriage license for the couple.
Common Types of Wedding Officiants
There are a few common types of wedding officiants. Some will require more training and education than others. The most common types include:
- Civil Officiants – This type of wedding officiant can ensure the marriage is legal for civil weddings. They are usually found at the county clerk’s office or run their own business. Retired judges and public notaries are commonly civil officiants.
- Religious Officiants – Ministers, priests, pastors, rabbis, or any other type of religious leader may be a religious officiant. They will likely perform religious wedding ceremonies and even counsel couples before they get married. This type of officiant may have some restrictions, depending on the religion they practice.
- Professional Officiants – A professional officiant is the most common type that runs their own business. They may help you with the wedding planning and cater the ceremony to your tastes. In addition, they may perform secular and spiritual weddings.
Of course, there are also family or friend officiants. These types of officiants are not out to make money. Instead, they are trying to perform a ceremony one time for someone they love.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Wedding Officiant
What is the common salary of a wedding officiant?
If you just become a wedding officiant for one wedding, you probably won’t care much about the salary. Typically, a wedding officiant will work a different type of job. For example, you might be a judge, clergy member, or court clerk. Officiating weddings is often a part of your job, but not your main job.
As a judge, you can earn more than $124K per year, while clergy members often earn around $53K per year. Court clerks earn a salary of around $43K per year. Often, officiating weddings are considered extra and might allow you to make more money on the side.
Those deciding to be just a wedding officiant as their career will often go into business for themselves. Some marry as many as 500 couples per year.
It may cost $50 to $500 to hire a wedding officiant, which means you can make pretty good money in this career.
The cost will depend on the experience of the wedding officiant and how much they provide. You will likely charge less for shorter ceremonies, including just a marriage license and the necessary words, than a longer ceremony.
How many couples can I marry in a year as a wedding officiant?
Some wedding officiants marry hundreds of couples per year. Many will get married with just a quick 15-minute appointment. Not all marriages require a long ceremony, and many simply go through the necessary parts of the ceremony.
Weddings can happen anywhere and can include as little or as much as the couple wants. Some will be elopements, others more formal, and even some will be traditional. If you’re a wedding officiant, you can marry as many couples a year as you have time to marry.
How long will it take to become a wedding officiant?
The amount of time it will take depends on the path you take to become a wedding officiant. It will also depend on your state laws. In some cases, it takes less than an hour to become ordained online.
Other paths may take years if you plan to become a judge or a clergy member first. However, many online options are instant and only require an ID card or a minister’s license to become ordained.
Do I need a degree to become a wedding officiant?
No. Anybody can become a wedding officiant in most states. However, if you want to enter a profession where officiating weddings is a part of the job, you will likely need a degree. For example, judges will need a Juris Doctor, while clergy and court clerks may need a bachelor’s degree.