A Guide to Becoming an Officiant

An officiant performing a marriage ceremony
February 15, 2022

A wedding only legally requires a few things. Among the most important are an engaged couple and an officiant. Micro weddings have been trending since the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, not all wedding businesses were able to thrive or even survive. However, many new wedding professionals emerged in the industry for the first time. Engaged couples are now much more likely to ask one of their close friends or family members to officiate their wedding ceremony, largely due to pandemic restrictions.

Couples are drawn to officiants who can demonstrate they are reliable, organized, and know the couple well. In this guide to becoming an officiant, we’ll discuss how to get ordained and how to professionally prepare for the wedding industry!

How to Become an Ordained Minister

The simplest way to become an ordained minister is via The Universal Life Church (ULC), a non-denominational spiritual organization that welcomes folks of all cultures and beliefs. Over 20 million people have been ordained online by the ULC, and the process takes less than 20 minutes. First, complete and submit an ordination form with your name and residential information. Once you get a confirmation email with your ordination information from The Monastery, you’re officially an officiant! 

This means that you can officiate weddings in your state and conduct spiritual ceremonies. You may also be required to register with the Secretary of State, depending on a state’s requirements. Some states require the officiant to have a residency or meet a certain minimum age. You can find your own state’s requirements here. At this stage, confirm that the couple knows how to apply for a marriage license at the county clerk’s office of the county in which they intend to marry. They should establish a date to retrieve their marriage license from the county clerk. Depending on the state-determined expiration of the license, the ceremony will be within 60 or 90 days.

The ULC offers training materials, ceremony instructions, and other useful resources. To step into your professional officiant status, consider a few important things to set your business up for success.

Professionally Prepare to Become an Officiant

Business tools, systems, and processes help your business run efficiently. The main part of an officiant’s wedding day role is to facilitate the ceremony. Consider the ULC’s wedding ceremony script generator to help you personalize your script based on your relationship with the engaged couple. If you don’t know the couple very well, you may consider starting out with a service like Vows and Speeches which has extensive experience capturing the voice of their clients in a way that makes every wedding guest feel deeply moved. This service is valuable for folks who struggle with exactly how to put their most cherished memories into words that evoke emotion.

The moment you’ve booked your first wedding, make it a point to start a conversation about the couple’s relationship. The first thing to ask about is their love story. Listen to each of their perspectives. Probe to discover more about their most memorable moments and funniest stories to really capture their personality and history as a couple. To prepare as an officiant means to be mindful of the wording in the delivery. Practice improving your skills immediately after the couple shares their love story. Recreate what they’ve told you by communicating in your own words what you heard them say about why they’re together. The goal is to poetically articulate why their union is so special. If they respond with something like, “Exactly!” or “You totally get it,” then you are doing great! 

Words can be tough, though. Several couples have no idea where to start when it comes to writing their own vows. While this is outside of the scope of work for an officiant, you’re perfectly positioned to recommend your couple to Vows and Speeches to accommodate them.

“It is difficult for most people to put words to the love they feel about their partner,” says Franklin, co-founder of Vows and Speeches. Franklin helps unlock what’s already in their head by asking the right questions in a 30-minute interview to get a good understanding of their story, as well as get several quotes from them. The draft is essentially a thread of their own words and stories put together into something more structured and entertaining with an emotional arc. As a general rule, the narrative part of the ceremony should be somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes. 

Engage Other Industry Professionals

There are dozens of vendor-only networking events, seminars, conferences, and summits throughout the year. Explore the many industry associations and societies that exist to uphold a high standard of service across all wedding vendor professions. These are the best opportunities to create strategic partnerships and find continued educational resources as a small business owner and new wedding professional.

Hero photo courtesy of JAMSTUDIO Weddings


About the Author

Aisle Planner Editorial Team
Aisle Planner Editorial Team
The Aisle Planner Editorial Team is a collective of creative writers, editors, and former event pros who obsess over weddings and special events—and the businesses behind them! Drawn to refined details, design, and creativity, our team provides intelligent and straightforward articles with insights, practical tips, and expert guidance in putting Aisle Planner's "Power of One" behind your business.