Who can I have do the marriage ceremony

I am getting married in the fall and the fiancee and I do not want a traditional wedding. We are planning on getting married in the pool we met in and we would like someone from the team to do the actual marrying part.

I was under the impression that anyone could do that part, but my father said that only a Justice of the Peace or a Minster could do the ceremony. My brother said that he got ordained on the internet and can do it for us. This has just left us confused as to who is right and who is wrong. I don’t see the big deal as to who should do it since I feel the signing of the certificate is more important then the person asking if you do.

So who can do the “Do You” part? We want to find out now so that we don’t get screwed over in a few months having to find someone. We are in Maryland if that makes any difference.

Do you live in the U.S.? If so, what state?

In California, and most other states, you can get ordained for free by the Universal Life Church and then perform legal weddings. I performed the ceremony for a couple of friends of mine.

My sister just got married in Florida. Notaries can perform weddings there.


NH recognizes the ULC, and likely others of this type.

You can also use a Justice of the Peace in NH. My wife is a JP, and performed the ceremony for her cousin. And did a damn fine job IMO (but I admit I may be biased).


Edward, the laws on officiating at marriages differ greatly from state to state. I found this from the Maryland Code-Family Law:

Other states make it much easier. I recently researched Massachusetts law because a friend of mine asked me to officiate at her wedding, to take place this fall outside Boston. I’m not clergy and I live in New York, so I thought it might be difficult or impossible - but it turns out that Massachusetts has a simple procedure in which the governor gives written permission to just about anyone to officiate, as long as they submit a couple of written references. (Unfortunately, my friend’s mom wasn’t comfortable with the idea so I won’t be officiating after all - but nice to know that the option exists, at least for Massachusetts.)

It may be easy for someone to get a quicky “clergy” license - or for you to get married in a neighboring state. Google around on “marriage” “officiants” “law” “statename.” If that doesn’t lead you to an official website - e.g. the state code, etc. - I’d suggest confirming what you find by calling whatever local agency issues marriage licenses.

It is completely a matter of state law. In most states, ordained ministers and judges are capable of solemnizing a marriage. Some states allow anyone to do it as long as cetain other requirements are allowed. You need to look up your lcal law on the subject. You might start by calling the court which has jurisdiction over your county.

Here is a page of court phone numbers.


BTW, here’s an interesting anecdote. In Virgina, the officiant must be a minister or judge. However, if there is a technical problem with the marriage (such as the officiant being unqualified) and the couple sleeps together, the marriage is valid as long as at least one spouse didn’t know about the problem.


In Colorado, anyone can do it. You can marry yourself if you like.

Virginia, however, does not recognize the Universal Life Church. My best friend was ging to have her brother marry here and it didn’t pan out. She had to get the best man’s dad (a JOP) to officially officiate, although her brother read the ceremony. At least the counties of Albemarle (Charlottesville) and whatever Richmond is in don’t.

Here is information on different states.

I’m a ULC minister and have performed two weddings for my friends. In California you can also get a one-day permit from the county to perform a wedding. You’re basically being sworn in as a deputy state official for this particular purpose. It costs a few buck ($25 in my neck of the woods) and you have to sign some papers (you actually have to swear to uphold the Constitution, defend the state against all enemies foreign or domestic, etc…for one day). Look up the laws in your state and be aware that in many cases the person who answers the phone at the clerk’s office will not actually know the laws accurately (I’ve had this happen).

Google Answers: Weddings in Marlyand (yes)

From the ULC website:


This is true in San Francicso county but I don’t believe it is in every county. I’m not even sure if it’s true anywhere outside of San Francisco.