How to get Ordained in Maryland to Officiate

Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.

Welcome to the Maryland marriage laws guide. Officiating a wedding is a tremendous honor, but presiding also comes with a lot of responsibility - which is why we decided to create a page providing guidance to couples and ministers alike. To make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, we recommend following the guide below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Maryland.

Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:

  1. Getting Ordained in Maryland

    Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is easier than you might think. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and completely free. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the bend! In fact, legally licensed ministers of the ULC preside over countless marriage ceremonies in Maryland each year. Click the button to get started.

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in Maryland

    For starters, you'll need to contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will take place. Identify yourself as a minister and inquire about what documents the officials will need to see from you. Be aware, however, that these requirements often vary from county to county; marriage officials may ask for a number of items to verify your ordination status. Any documents or materials you might need are available via the Minister Store here on our site.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. Maryland Wedding Officiant Requirements

    Once you've spoken with county officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and place an order for whatever materials you need. In case you were curious, most ministers in Maryland choose to order Classic Wedding Set.

    In general, ministers are not required to register in Maryland. However, it's not uncommon for a county clerk to ask for proof of your ordination before giving the "go-ahead" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, it gives the couple peace of mind to know that their wedding minister has all the official documents, like thee ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by county officials, please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.

  4. How to Get a Maryland Marriage License

    In Maryland, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office. Although it is the couple's job to pick up the license, the minister should have a thorough understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Maryland and its individual counties. Let's say the couple is planning to get a Montgomery County marriage license, for example. As the minister, you should double-check if there are any specific rules for getting married in Montgomery County that the couple might not be aware of.

    In Maryland, marriage licenses are valid for 180 days. There is a mandatory 2-day waiting period - this means that the couple must wait a minimum of 2 days after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned before the expiration date.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    With all the paperwork is in order, you'll be ready to perform the wedding! If you need any guidance in this area, don't hesitate to consult the resources linked below. These pages offer helpful tips and advice on all aspects of performing a wedding ceremony. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, they've got everything you'll need for carrying out the perfect ceremony.

    In fact, many ULC ministers have used these resources as a guide when becoming full-time professional officiants!

  6. Signing the Marriage License in Maryland

    Now there's just one last step - but it's a vital one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple, of course). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious"; for denomination, write "Non-Denominational". If the license asks for an address of ministry, list your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC. No minister ID number is required. Finally, remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline!

Maryland Marriage Laws

State Flag Of Maryland

Maryland marriage laws are governed by Title 2 of the state code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Maryland. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:

Universal Citation: MD Fam L Code § 2-401 (2019) (a) An individual may not marry in this State without a license issued by the clerk for the county in which the marriage is performed.

(b)    Any individual who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine of $100.

View the Maryland Statutes on the official government state website.

Is it Legal For You to Perform a Maryland Wedding?

Review the Marriage Law

Want to Learn More about Ministry in Maryland?

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