Information on How to Get Ordained and Register as a Minister
How to get ordained and perform a wedding or ceremony in California.
Since 2010, Open Ministry has been ordaining and helping people all over the world perform weddings, ceremony and other sacerdotal duties. This page focuses on requirements and information for California, if you don't need the States Statues or ordination information for California scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to other states.
Let's get started with the information for California
If you are planning to get ordained in California or you have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in California, or simply need to to find a minister in California to perform your wedding ceremony the information on this page will assist you. If you still have questions we invite you to visit our FAQ or contact us for more detailed information. We are here to help and support our ministers and congregation.
Registered Ministers with Open Ministry have successfully performed thousands of marriages in California and around the world!
The Ordination and Officiant information is provided below in an easy five step layout which is designed help walk you through the most common steps on registering to become a minister for California and how perform a wedding ceremony in California.
Step 1 - How to Become Ordained
How to get Ordained in California and become a minister to perform weddings and marriage ceremonies in California
Ordinations for California are completely free and can normally be completed in less than a day. Thousands of people have registered and became licensed ministers in California. Once you have completed the ordination process you are able perform marriages through Open Ministry in and for the state of California!
Become Ordained for free and start your journey as an authorized minister in California with Open Ministry.
Get started today by clicking on the link below!
Step 2 - Contact The County Clerk
How to Register to Officiate a Marriage in California
Next, contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk in California). Let them know that you are a ordained minister with Open Ministry in California, and ask them what information the will require of you, to officiate a marriage in California. Most clerks and governing agencies may require that you present them with a physical copy of your ordination record.
When speaking with the county clerk; it can be helpful to use the following phrases.
- What agency or department issues marriage licenses in your county and how may I contact them?
- I am an ordained minister with a church in California and I would like to register as a wedding Officiant in your county to perform and solemnize weddings.
- I have my Letter of Good Standing and/or Ordination Credential as proof of my ministry and ordination.
- What additional documentation is required for me to register as a wedding Officiant in your county or state?
Step 3 - Getting Licensed to Perform the Marriage
License to perform a wedding in California
After you've contacted your marriage authority, you will want to visit our bookstore to get physical copies official credentials for presentation and your records. (See California State Statutes for More Specific Requirements )
When registering in California you may be asked to display proof of your ordination to the county clerk's before they will accept the marriage license as having been legally solemnized. We typically advise ministers of California to get a Complete Minister Package for California which includes your Letter of Good Standing (the live signed and notarized physical copy of your standing with our ministry).
Having your physical copies credentials provides peace-of-mind to couples and others that you intend to marry. Additionally, we recommend at least 4 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials and are able to register in time. Please note that every state and county can impose different requirements. This may include other nominal fees and additional paperwork that may need to be completed before the ceremony can take place.
It is important to note that some county clerks in California may require wedding officiants to attach a statement which asserts some of the elements in the marriage license upon submission, including the following:
- The time and location at which the wedding took place
- The names and places of residence of all official witnesses
- The religious organization in which the officiant is ordained
- The printed name and address of the officiant
Please note that, when filling out a marriage license, that California State may request you use the title "Minister" or "Reverend". The County Clerks may also require you enter your denomination, you can use "Non-Denominational". Failing to state a denomination may result in rejection and could require a duplicate marriage license.
Step 4 - How to Perform the Wedding
How to perform a wedding in California
Once you have completed of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! Be sure that the couple has picked up their California state issued marriage license from the appropriate office. California marriage licenses valid for a set number of days, and there may be a waiting period between when the couple receives the marriage license in California and when the ceremony may be legally performed in California. This information should be written on the license and followed to ensure the ceremony is recorded properly.
Please be aware that the signed license must be returned to the issuing office in California before the time limit is reached. Check the marriage license for the exact dates. Once the the previous matters have been addressed, officiating a wedding in California can be a great and wonderful experience.
If you have any comments or issues as a wedding officiant in California, or after you have been ordained, or would like to just asking for guidance on how to perform a wedding ceremony in California. We recommend that all new California wedding ministers who have issues or concerns about the ceremony read over our helpful guides.
400 Persons Authorized to Solemnize Marriage
Although marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract, a marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is 18 years of age or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination. A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any entity.
(b) A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
(c) A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
(d) Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States:
(1) A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
(2) A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
(3) A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
(4) A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
(e) A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a Member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.
Family Code - Division 3: Marriage - Part 3: Solemnization of Marriage - Chapter 1: Persons Authorized to Solemnize Marriage