How to Become an Ordained Minister in California

If you haven't yet become ordained with the Universal Life Church, that is the first step. Anyone willing can become a legal minister of the ULC, one of the world's largest religious organizations. Online ordination is fast, easy, and completely free. Once you have your minister license, you'll be eligible to officiate a wedding. To become a minister, start by clicking the button below!

Become Ordained!

How to Officiate a Wedding in California

Contact the County Clerk's office in the county where the ceremony will take place. Introduce yourself as a minister officiating a wedding, and ask them what documents they will need from you. They may ask to see a number of things, and be aware that these requirements vary from county to county. Rest assured that any materials or documents you might need are available in the Church Supplies section of our website.

Select your county to view contact information for each office:

The California state flower, the California Poppy

What Do You Need to Perform a Wedding in California

Once you've determined what you need, simply log in to your account and order the materials from our online catalog. Based on the feedback we've received from our ministers in California, we recommend ordering a California Wedding Kit. Although ministers are generally not required to register in the state of California, it's possible the county clerk will ask you to present proof of your ordination before they will accept the legality of the ceremonies you've performed. Also keep in mind that the couple may like to see your ordination credentials. As requested by the county clerks, please place your order well in advance of the wedding to avoid complications.

How to Get a California Marriage License

Licenses are issued by the County Clerk's office, and will be picked up by the couple. As a minister, you should be aware of the rules regarding marriage licenses in California and its individual counties. For example, if the couple plans to get an Sacramento County marriage license, you should double-check if there are any rules specific to Sacramento County. In the state of California, the license is valid for 90 days. There is no mandatory waiting period before the ceremony can take place Lastly, the signed marriage license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days of the ceremony.

How to Perform a Wedding

Congratulations, you're ready to officiate the wedding! If you need any assistance in this important task, we encourage you to utilize the tools below. Together these exclusive resources include everything you'll need to craft the perfect wedding ceremony for any couple. Created with our ministers in mind, they offer tips and helpful information for all aspects of performing a ceremony. Fun fact: many ULC ministers have become professional officiants using these tools as a guide!

Finalizing the Marriage

After you perform the ceremony, you will sign the marriage license along with the couple and their witnesses. Your title is 'minister', the ceremony type is 'religious', and the denomination is 'non-denominational'. You will not be required to provide a license number. You may also wish to give the couple a commemorative gift, like a marriage certificate to mark their special day. Last thing: make sure the signed license gets resubmitted to the marriage office before the deadline!

California Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in California are primarily directed by California's Family Code. This section defines persons authorized to perform a marriage in the State of California, which includes ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church, among other individuals. We've reproduced the relevant portion below:

  1. Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:

  2. A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination. No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.

  3. Before solemnizing a marriage, the person solemnizing the marriage shall require the presentation of the marriage license. If the person solemnizing the marriage has reason to doubt the correctness of the statement of facts in the marriage license, the person must be satisfied as to the correctness of the statement of facts before solemnizing the marriage. For this purpose, the person may administer oaths and examine the parties and witnesses in the same manner as the county clerk does before issuing the license.

  4. The person solemnizing a marriage shall make, sign, and endorse upon or attach to the marriage license a statement, in the form prescribed by the State Department of Health Services, showing all of the following: (a) The fact, date (month, day, year), and place (city and county) of solemnization. (b) The names and places of residence of one or more witnesses to the ceremony. (c) The official position of the person solemnizing the marriage, or of the denomination of which that person is a priest, minister, rabbi, or member of the clergy. (d) The person solemnizing the marriage shall also type or print the person's name and address.

  5. The person solemnizing the marriage shall return the marriage license, endorsed as required in Section 422, to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.

  6. At the request of, and for, either party to a marriage, the person solemnizing the marriage shall issue a marriage certificate showing the facts specified in Section 422.