How to get Ordained in District of Columbia to Officiate

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

Welcome to the Washington D.C. marriage laws guide. Being the officiant at a wedding is a great honor and responsibility - which is why we've assembled this page to give guidance to ministers and couples. To ensure everything goes as planned on the big day, we encourage you to follow the steps laid out below. The page will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to ensure that the ceremony is legal in Washington D.C.

Here are the basic steps to follow for officiating a wedding:

  1. Getting Ordained in District of Columbia

    Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is quite simple. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and entirely free. Once you have your minister license in hand, your goal of officiating a wedding will be within reach. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform scores of weddings in Washington D.C. each year. Click the button below to get started!

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in District of Columbia

    The first step will be to contact the D.C. Marriage Bureau (the office that issues marriages licenses there). Explain that you are a minister officiating an upcoming wedding, and that you're curious what documents they'll need in order to verify your ordination. You will likely be asked to present several items proving your status as an ordained minister. Any documents or supplies you might need are available via the Minister Store here on our site.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. District of Columbia Wedding Officiant Requirements

    Once you've spoken with Marriage Bureau officials, simply sign in to your account on our site and order the required documents. In general, ministers are required to register in Washington D.C. Thus, officials will likely request proof of your ordination before giving you the green light to perform the wedding.

    But registration purposes aside, having your ordination certificate on hand also gives the couple peace of mind. They'll take comfort knowing that their wedding minister is officially recognized. With that in mind, one of our more popular items in Washington D.C. is the Classic Wedding Set, which comes with everything you'll need to perform a successful ceremony. As requested by D.C. marriage officials, please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.

  4. How to Get a District of Columbia Marriage License

    Marriage licenses are issued by the D.C. Marriage Bureau. Although it's the couple's job to obtain the license, as the minister, you should check to see if there are any special regulations specific to Washington D.C. that the couple might not be aware of.

    Washington D.C. marriage licenses never expire. However, note that there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    After you have all the paperwork in order, it's time to conduct the wedding! If you need some pointers with this task, don't hesitate to utilize the tools available below. Our carefully prepared resources provide useful tips and tricks for performing a wedding ceremony. Prepared with our wedding officiants in mind, the information contains all you will need to plan the perfect ceremony.

  6. Signing the Marriage License in District of Columbia

    Last but not least, after performing the wedding, you will need to sign the marriage license (along with the couple, of course). Your official title will be "Minister"; for the type of ceremony put "Religious"; for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".

    If asked to list an address of ministry, put your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC. Finally, remember to return the signed license before the deadline passes!

District of Columbia Marriage Laws

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District of Columbia marriage laws are governed by Section 406 of Title 46 of the code of Washington D.C. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Washington D.C. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church Ministries. The relevant section is displayed below:

Universal Citation: DC Code § 46–410 (2019) It shall be the duty of the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before issuing any license to solemnize a marriage to examine any applicant for said license under oath and to ascertain the names and ages of the parties desiring to marry, and if they are under age the names of their parents or guardians, whether they were previously married, whether they are related or not, and if so, in what degree, which facts shall appear on the face of the application, of which the Clerk shall provide a printed form, and any false swearing in regard to such matters shall be deemed perjury.

View the District of Columbia Statutes on the official government state website.

Is it Legal For You to Perform a District of Columbia Wedding?

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