Performing Marriages In Washington, DC As A ULC Minister

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How to perform marriages in Washington DC as a ULC minister

The wedding laws of Washington, DC can make it very difficult to perform weddings there. The ULC can help make things easier for its ministers, however.

Registering as a wedding officiant with the Marriage Bureau of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the Washington, DC government office that issues marriage licenses, has always been a challenging and highly inconsistent process for Universal Life Church ministers like ours. Some are turned away outright by the Marriage Bureau from the get-go, but most are given a laundry list of documents they are told they need to present to a county clerk before they can file for a marriage license.

Before we go any further, we feel as if we should explicitly state that Universal Life Church ministers like yourselves are legally allowed to perform marriage ceremonies in

Washington, DC.  We know for a fact that dozens of ULC ministers have officiated ceremonies in the District of Columbia (at least), so getting turned away on your first visit to the county clerk’s office does not preclude eventually receiving permission to file for a marriage license there.

The ULC Monastery staff is unsure about why this inconsistency exists, though we believe it is due to the fact that retired judges occasionally come in to serve as temporary county clerks to reduce the labor costs of running that office. If this is the case, these judges create confusion by misinterpreting the District’s marriage laws (or at least interpret them differently than their peers do) or bringing their personal thoughts and prejudices toward online ordination into consideration when approached by a ULC minister.  Regardless of whether or not this speculation is true, it is of the utmost importance for our ministers to know that performing a marriage in Washington, DC it is not a cakewalk and that they should always have a contingency plan in the event they are not allowed to file for a marriage license (i.e. by establishing a conventional minister as a backup weeks before the ceremony is supposed to take place).

So, how does one register as a wedding officiant in Washington, DC?

Our online-ordained ministers should always assume that they will need to present the following items:

  1. A certificate from the headquarters of the church that will be used to demonstrate that the wedding officiant is in fact a minister and is able to perform weddings. this is the ordination credential. (Please not that the ordination credential will not be returned once it has been submitted to the Marriage Bureau’s office)
  2. The church’s articles of incorporation.
  3. An affidavit that states the length of time the minister has been an official of their church, when and where they conduct their religious meetings, the compensation they receive while performing both their duties as a minister and any other business they partake in, the amount of time they devote to their congregation every week, and the size of their congregation. Please contact us at webmaster@ulc.org if you need assistance answering these.
  4. A notarized affidavit from a resident of Washington, DC declaring that they know the applicant and that the applicant has is a person “of good moral character”.
All the forms of documentation listed above must be certified or notarized in order for the DC county clerk’s office to accept them.

The ULC Monastery currently only offers the first two documents listed above, but it is working hard to develop a package containing the last two. In the meantime, it is possible to write an explanation of why you do not have and cannot acquire the latter two documents; if you’re lucky, the Marriage Bureau will determine that it wasn’t necessary for you to have these documents in the first place.

Call the Marriage Bureau at 202-879-4865 if you have questions about the wedding officiant registration process.

One final and very important note: acquiring permission to perform weddings in Washington, DC is that is permanent. You will never need to file additional documents or re-register as an officiant past the first filing.

As per usual, please e-mail us at webmaster@ulc.org if you have any questions about marriage laws,  be the Washington, DC’s or someplace else’s.

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