Who Can Perform a Marriage Ceremony? 5

How to Find an Authorized Official

Most states allow a little flexibility in determining who can legally conduct a marriage ceremony. This allows individuals to choose an official that best matches their personal beliefs and needs. In general, a wedding is considered legal if the official is certified by the state to perform such ceremonies.

This certification is usually extended to legal officials such as judges, magistrates and justices of the peace as well as religious leaders such as ministers, rabbis and priests. Many states also allow the county clerk and/or mayor to perform a wedding ceremony as well.

To locate an authorized official, couples may start by asking their local clergy, even if the couple doesn’t belong to a specific church. Many clergy members are willing to perform wedding ceremonies for parties outside of their congregation however, the ceremony will be done in accordance with the clergy’s specific religious affiliation so try to get as close as you can to your personal beliefs.

Couples that are not religious or that follow a non-traditional belief system (pagan, spirituality, etc.) may have difficulty finding a clergy member willing to perform the ceremony, and may prefer to have a legal official officiate their wedding. In this instance, couples are advised to contact their local government for help in finding a suitable alternative. Ceremonies performed by parties not certified by the state will be considered invalid .


  • virginia

    My daughter and her fiancee reside in
    another state, will return to Ohio for the wedding ceremony. If they obtain their marriage license in the county in which they will be married, can the town mayor legally marry them (even though they do not live within the county)??

  • I know someone who had a lawyer officiate their wedding. It was the strangest wedding I’ve been to because they combined religious elements into it while having a non-religious person officiate it. Is that considered legal?

    • Mahogany

      My friend is a lawyer and is trying to find out how do she go about being able to officiate someones wedding. Do you know how?

  • stewart savage

    who can conduct a legal marriage ceremony in the state of michigan ?
    IE: (minister,church Elder, church Deacon,ect.)
    Do the official has to license or registered with the state ?

  • Jerome

    Is it legal for a Louisiana mayor to perform a wedding?