How to Become an Ordained Minister in District Of Columbia

If you're not already ordained with the Universal Life Church, that will be your first step. Anyone who feels so-called can become a legal minister of the ULC, one of the world's largest religious organizations. Online ordination takes only a matter of minutes and is completely free. Once you have your minister license in hand, you'll immediately be eligible to start officiating weddings. To become a minister, begin by clicking the button below!

Become Ordained!

How to Officiate a Wedding in District Of Columbia

The first step will be to contact the D.C. Marriage Bureau (the office where marriages licenses are issued). Tell them you're a minister planning to officiate an upcoming wedding, and ask about what documents they require to verify your ordination. You will likely be asked to present one or more items proving your status as an ordained minister. Any supplies or documents you might need are available in the Church Supplies section here on our site.

Select your county to view contact information for each office:

The Washington DC Flower, the American Beauty Rose

What Do You Need to Perform a Wedding in District Of Columbia

After speaking with Marriage Bureau officials, simply visit our site, sign in to your account, and place an order for the necessary documents. Since ministers are required to register in Washington D.C., marriage officials will likely ask to see proof of your ordination before giving you the green light to begin performing weddings.

In addition, having a physical copy your ordination certificate on hand will give the couple peace of mind, knowing that their wedding minister is officially recognized. One of our more popular items among ministers in Washington D.C. is the Classic Wedding Kit, which includes everything you'll need to perform a memorable ceremony. As requested by D.C. marriage officials, please order your materials (at least) several weeks prior to the ceremony.

How to Get a District Of Columbia Marriage License

Marriage licenses are issued by the D.C. Marriage Bureau. While it's up to the couple to actually obtain the license, the minister should check to see if any special regulations apply to Washington D.C. that the couple might not be aware of.

Washington D.C. marriage licenses never expire, but there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period between when the license is received and when the ceremony can legally be performed. After the ceremony is complete, the signed marriage license must be returned to the office that issued it within 10 days.

How to Perform a Wedding

Congratulations! With all the paperwork ready to go, it's time to perform the wedding! If you'd like some help planning or carrying out the ceremony, don't hesitate to use the tools found below this section. These resources contain all sorts of tips for performing a wonderful wedding, and are widely used by even our most experienced wedding officiants.

Finalizing the Marriage

Last thing! After officiating the wedding, you will need to sign the marriage license along with the couple. Your official title will be "Minister"; for type of ceremony, put "Religious"; for denomination, list "Non-Denominational".

District Of Columbia Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in the District of Columbia are primarily directed by Section 406 of Title 46 of the district code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in Washington D.C. Among the groups with authorization to perform such ceremonies are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church Ministries. The relevant section is displayed below:

§ 46-406. Persons authorized to celebrate marriages.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) "Civil celebrant" means a person of a secular or non-religious organization who performs marriage ceremonies.

(2) "Religious" includes or pertains to a belief in a theological doctrine, a belief in and worship of a divine ruling power, a recognition of a supernatural power controlling man's destiny, or a devotion to some principle, strict fidelity or faithfulness, conscientiousness, pious affection, or attachment.

(3) "Society" means a voluntary association of individuals for religious purposes.

(4) "Temporary officiant" means a person authorized by the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ("Court") to solemnize a specific marriage. The person's authority to solemnize that marriage shall expire upon the filing of the marriage license, pursuant to § 46-412.

(b) For the purpose of preserving the evidence of marriages in the District of Columbia, a marriage authorized under this chapter may be solemnized by the following persons at least 18 years of age at the time of the marriage:

(1) A judge or retired judge of any court of record;

(2) The Clerk of the Court or such deputy clerks of the Court as may, in writing, be designated by the Clerk and approved by the Chief Judge of the Court;

(3) A minister, priest, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination or society;

(4) For any religious society which does not by its own custom require the intervention of a minister for the celebration of marriages, a marriage may be solemnized in the manner prescribed and practiced in that religious society, with the license issued to, and returns to be made by, a person appointed by the religious society for that purpose;

(5) A civil celebrant;

(6) A temporary officiant;

(7) Members of the Council;

(8) The Mayor of the District of Columbia; or

(9) The parties to the marriage.

(b-1) All persons authorized by subsection (b) of this section to solemnize marriages shall comply with the requirements of § 46-412.

(b-2) The Court shall charge a reasonable registration fee for authorization to solemnize marriages; provided, that the registration fee for a temporary officiant shall not exceed $25.

(c) No priest, imam, rabbi, minister, or other official of any religious society who is authorized to solemnize or celebrate marriages shall be required to solemnize or celebrate any marriage.

(d) Each religious society has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that particular religious society's faith.

(e) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious society, or a nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods for a purpose related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious programs, counseling, courses, or retreats, that is in violation of the religious society's beliefs.

(2) A refusal to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods in accordance with this subsection shall not create any civil claim or cause of action, or result in a District action to penalize or withhold benefits from the religious society or nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society. History

(Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1392, ch. 854, § 1288; Apr. 23, 1904, 33 Stat. 297, ch. 1490, § 1; June 25, 1948, 62 Stat. 991, ch. 646, § 32(a), (b); May 24, 1949, 63 Stat. 107, ch. 139, § 127; July 5, 1966, 80 Stat. 264, Pub. L. 89-493, § 13(a), (b); July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Jan. 26, 1982, D.C. Law 4-60, § 2, 28 DCR 4768; Mar. 3, 2010, D.C. Law 18-110, § 2(d), 57 DCR 27; Nov. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 20-36, § 2, 60 DCR 12143.)

View the Washington DC Statutes on the official state site