How to Register and Perform a Wedding By State
If you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in Pennsylvania, you've come to the right page. Ordained ministers with Open Ministry have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in Pennsylvania and around the world!
The information provided below is designed to walk you through the most common steps to become a minister and perform a wedding ceremony in Pennsylvania.
Step 1 - How to Become Ordained
How to become an Ordained Minister in Pennsylvania
Ordination is completely free and can be completed in less than a few hours. Thousands of ministers have registered to perform marriages in Pennsylvania and other states each year!
If you haven't already, you should get ordained online 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 Pennsylvania
Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk) in Pennsylvania. Let them know that you are a minister of Open Ministry in California, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage in Pennsylvania.
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?
Step 3 - Getting Licensed to Perform the Marriage
License to perform a wedding in Pennsylvania
After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our bookstore to purchase your official credentials and any required documentation (See Pennsylvania State Statutes for More Specific Requirements )
When registering in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania to get a Complete Minister Package for Pennsylvania which includes your Letter of Good Standing.
Having your ordination credentials will also provide peace-of-mind to any couple that you intend to marry. Additionally, we recommend that you have at least 4 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in time to register.
It is important to note that some county clerks in Pennsylvania may require wedding officiants to attach a statement avowing 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 Pennsylvania 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.
1503 Persons qualified to solemnize marriages
(a) General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:
(1) A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.
(2) A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:
(i) has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;
(ii) has not been defeated for reelection or retention;
(iii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;
(iv) has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;
(v) has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and
(vi) is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(3) An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania.
(3.1) An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(4) An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(5) A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.
(5.1) A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:
(i) has not been defeated for reelection;
(ii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;
(iii) has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies;
(iv) has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and
(v) is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(6) A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.
(b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.
(c) Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.
Title 23: Domestic Relations - Part 2: Marriage - Chapter 15: Marriage Ceremony
(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)