How to Get Ordained in California?

how to get ordained in California

Did you ever make a promise to a friend that you would officiate their wedding? You can perform the wedding ceremony but in California marriage licenses are given only if the wedding ceremony is officiated by an authorized person who can officiate weddings will it be considered legal?

Generally speaking, the regulations governing who is permitted to officiate weddings depend on the state, nation, or jurisdiction where the wedding will be held.

Some locales let friends or family members officiate marriages, while others demand that the celebrant be a pastor, judge, or other recognized authority who has been licensed or ordained.

But, how to get ordained in California?

Photo by Samuel Peter on Pexels

Other than reading about how to sell a car in California in 12 easy steps, you will be surprised read that how to get ordained in California is a very straightforward process. 

California Code § CA Fam Code § 400

Who can get married in the state of California is specified in California Family Code § 400. Any unmarried individual who is at least 18 years old, not already married, and not involved in a legally recognized domestic partnership is permitted to get married in California, according to the law.

Minors who are at least 16 years old can get married with their parent’s or legal guardian’s permission, and in some circumstances, with a court’s blessing.

A registered domestic partnership must first be dissolved or declared null and void before a person in one of these partnerships can marry someone else.

It is significant to highlight that certain intimate family relationships, including marriages between parents and children, siblings, half-siblings, and first cousins, among others, are illegal under California law.

Although marriage is a personal affair, in California the right to solemnize marriage is with a “minister, rabbi, or authorized person”.

You can only perform a wedding ceremony, under California law if you are an ordained minister.

Is it Difficult to Get Ordained in California?

Photo by Kumar Saurabh in Pexels

How to get ordained in California is not particularly difficult. Depending on the religious or spiritual group you are pursuing ordination from, the ordination process may differ.

While some firms have very basic and clear processes, others could have longer ones and more stringent standards.

Before you can be ordained, you might in some circumstances need to finish formal study or training in theology or a related discipline. In other situations, you might need to finish an apprenticeship or work as an underling for a seasoned religious figure.

Before you can be ordained, some groups may also need you to go through a background check or have a specified set of personal requirements.

In general, the requirements of the particular organization will determine how simple it is to become ordained.

When pursuing ordination, it is crucial to do your research and comprehend the procedure and needs.

How to Have a Friend Legally Officiate Your California Wedding?

So how does one get ordained in California? Getting ordained in California is very simple and also free of cost.

You can even get ordained in a day. There are several organizations that can ordain you. Here are the steps on how to get ordained in California

1. Choose an Organisation

There are many different organizations that can tell you how to get ordained in California and help you through the process.

Different organizations have different beliefs, choose the organization that strives to work for what you believe in.

2. Meet the Qualifications

To be able to become a wedding officiant, you need to be at least 18 years old. Depending on the organization you choose, you might have to go through a training program or an exam.

3. Application

Once you have gotten through the first two steps, you need to fill out the application form for the organization that you have chosen. This process may require you to submit some documents and an application fee.

4. Receive Your Certificate

When you are done with all the formalities, you will receive your credentials along with your official ordination certificate stating that you have been ordained.

5. Register with the State

Once received the certificate, the ordained minister has to register with the county clerk where they plan to perform marriage ceremonies.

Depending on how you want to use your ministry, you may also be asked to register with other government officials or bodies.

After all of these steps, you are now certified to perform a wedding ceremony.

Getting Ordained Online

Don’t understand how to get ordained in California offline? You can also get ordained online.

There is no difference between people who are ordained online and offline. It is legal in California to get ordained online. An online ordained minister can also solemnize a marriage in a civil ceremony.

Are Wedding Officiants Required to Register with the California Government?

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels

If you have understood how to get ordained in California, you might also want to know this.

Yes, wedding officiants are required to register with the California government in order to legally perform marriages in the state.

According to California law, wedding officiants must be authorized by a religious denomination, non-profit organization, or secular organization that has obtained a certificate of authorization from the County Clerk’s office.

By requesting a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages appointment from the County Clerk’s office, those who are not members of a religious, nonprofit, or secular organization can also become qualified to officiate marriages.

However, this procedure might be more time-consuming and frequently involves finishing an application, a background check, and a training course.

Once authorized, wedding officiants are required to file their credentials with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the marriage is taking place before the wedding ceremony can be performed.

How to Prepare to Officiate Weddings?

Once you follow the steps on how to get ordained in California, you need to prepare for the wedding ceremony.

Remember to complete all legal formalities with the county clerk. Once the administrative aspect is done, you need to prepare for the actual wedding ceremony.

Photo by Key Notez on Pexels

1. Working with the Couple

It is important to remember that just because you solemnize marriage does not mean you can write whatever you want. It is important to collaborate with the couple and also respect them.

As the wedding officiant, it is your responsibility to make sure that the couple has a great wedding ceremony that embodies their core principles.

Learn more about the couple: To get to know the couple and learn about their goals for the ceremony, arrange a first session with them.

Discuss your relationship with them, your shared interests, and any particular requirements you may have.

Advice and recommendations: Based on your knowledge, give the couple advice and recommendations on how to organize the ceremony, choose readings and music, and incorporate any rituals or customs that are significant to them.

Create a ceremony that is unique: Work with the couple to design a ceremony that is unique and reflects their values. Include particular details, sayings, or components that have special importance for them.

Plan a rehearsal with the couple in order to make sure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and that the ceremony runs properly.

Arrive on time and dressed properly for the situation. Have a professional and respectful demeanour, and make sure the event is performed with consideration for all attendees and participants.

You can collaborate with the couple to produce a memorable and heartfelt wedding ceremony that they will remember for years to come by using the advice in this article.

Remember to not disrespect and disregard their thoughts and feelings. Do not discriminate against same-sex couples or a person of any religious beliefs that do not align with yours. Becoming a wedding officiant comes with a lot of responsibility.

Keep in mind what the couple wants and how they want the wedding to progress.

2. Writing

The next step is actually writing the wedding ceremony. Write the ceremony based on what the couple wishes.

Make sure to include your personal touch as well. Remember to not say something offensive.

Begin with the fundamentals: Most wedding ceremonies feature a few standard components, such as the processional, welcome words, vows, ring exchange, pronouncement, and recessional.

To gain an understanding of what is usually included in ceremonies, research various types of ceremonies.

Choose the tone and manner: Are you planning a traditional, contemporary, religious, secular, or hybrid ceremony? Is it going to be formal or casual? This will direct the ceremony’s language and format.

Customize the ceremony: Weddings that honor the couple’s special personality and love story are the best.

Personal tales, readings, music, or cultural customs that have special importance to you might be included.

3. Wedding Ceremony

The final step is actually performing the ceremony. Make sure that you rehearse before the actual wedding ceremony.

It is important to remember that you are human and it is okay to get nervous or make mistakes.

Legal Responsibilities of a Minister

How to get ordained in California is easy but it comes with legal responsibilities.

1. Officiate Weddings

You need to sign the marriage license. In California marriage licenses need to be signed by the marriage officiant.

Only a signed marriage license issued by a person authorized will be considered legal.

2. Reporting Child Abuse

Ordained people are regarded as “mandatory reporters” of child abuse and neglect under California law.

This means that if an authorized individual has information or reason to believe child abuse or neglect, they are expected to report it to the relevant authorities.

3. Confidentiality

An ordained person might be governed by confidentiality regulations if they are serving in a pastoral or counseling capacity.

This implies that with a few limited exceptions like if there is an immediate threat of damage to the client or another person, they are legally required to keep any information revealed to them by a client or parishioner secret.

4. Non-Discrimination

Non-discrimination rules apply to ordained people who own businesses or offer general public services.

As a result, they are unable to reject a customer on the basis of that person’s ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected trait.

Photo by Trung Nguyen on Pexels

Some Other Duties of an Ordained Minister

1. Conduct Baptisms

Depending on the customs of their denomination, ministers may also be tasked with conducting ceremonies of baptism, either for children or adults.

2. Funeral and Memorial Service

Ministers are frequently invited to preside over funeral or memorial services, offering consolation and assistance to bereaved families and friends.

3. Pastoral Care

To those who need it, ministers may provide counseling and spiritual assistance for those who ask for it.

4. Regular Religious Services

As weekly worship sessions or prayer groups may be led by ministers depending on their denomination.

5. Chaplains

Ordained ministers can serve as chaplains in hospitals, military posts, or jails, offering spiritual direction and support to patients, soldiers, or inmates.

6. Role of Ministers

Ministers can also act as teachers, educators, or mentors, assisting individuals in their spiritual development and helping them understand more about their own religions.

7. Participate in Community Service

A lot of ministers also take part in community service, helping those in need in their own neighborhoods.

California Marriage Licenses

Now that you know how to get ordained in California, how do you actually fill out the marriage license?

First, you need to ask the couple for the marriage license and confirm whether it is valid. You can get information regarding the validity of the marriage license here. Then you finally need to fill in the required details and sign the marriage license.

You are required to return the marriage license to the office where it was issued. Though the couple might do this step, you should always follow up with them.

It is very important to fill out the marriage license correctly else you may face delays.

How To Fill Out a California Marriage License?

Knowing how to get ordained in California, you should also know how to fill out a marriage license.

The procedure of completing a California marriage license is simple and can be done by following the steps listed below:

Step 1: Obtain the Marriage License

The county clerk’s department in the county where the ceremony will take place must be contacted in order to receive the marriage license. 

To apply for the license, both the bride and the groom must be present.

Step 2: Provide Identification

To establish your age and identity, you will have to present identification documents

Step 3: Provide Personal Information

You will be asked for personal information, including your full name, residence, occupation, and marital status in the past.

Step 4: Information About the Wedding Ceremony

You will need to provide information about the wedding ceremony, such as the date, time, and location of the ceremony which will be written on the license.

Step 5: Sign the License

Both the bride and groom will need to sign the marriage license in the presence of the county clerk or authorized officiant.

Step 6: Obtain Signatures

The marriage license must be signed in front of two witnesses who are older than 18. The bride, groom, or witnesses need not be connected to one another.

Step 7: Return the License

The marriage license will be completed by the officiant following the wedding and returned to the county clerk’s office for recording.

The couple can later pay a fee to get a certified duplicate of their marriage license. This will account for a completed marriage license.

To minimize any complications or delays, the marriage license must be properly completed. The county clerk’s office can offer aid and direction if you have any questions.

Photo by Bethany Ferr on Pexels

California Marriage Requirements

Knowing how to get ordained in California is not enough, you should also know California’s marriage requirements.

To be married in California, both parties must be at least 18 years of age and have valid government-issued identification.

They should obtain a license from the clerk’s office in the county where the marriage is taking place.

They should pay the license fee and wait till it arrives. There should be at least one witness.

They should wait for a specified waiting period after obtaining the marriage license, which is typically 1-5 days depending on the county.

They should have the wedding ceremony performed by an authorized person. The last step is to have the marriage certificate signed by the minister, rabbi, or authorized person and the witness.

A blood test or waiting time after obtaining a marriage license is not necessary for California, which also accepts same-sex marriage.

Marriages in California

The California Family Code regulates marriages in California. In California, a civil or religious ceremony may be used to legally wed a couple. The state recognizes marriages of both kinds as being valid and binding.

Both individuals have to be at least 18 years old and unmarried in order to apply for a marriage license in California.

If either partner has previously been married, they must disclose the date of their divorce or the passing of their ex-spouse.

To apply for a marriage license, both spouses must come in person to a County Clerk’s office and present appropriate identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.

The pair must wait at least 24 hours after acquiring the marriage license before getting hitched.

An authorized individual, such as a judge, priest, minister, or rabbi, must officiate at the marriage ceremony.

At least one additional individual who is 18 years of age or older must also be present to witness the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the person who performed the marriage must sign the marriage license, and the witnesses must sign as well.

The couple must then return the signed license to the County Clerk’s office within 10 days to have the marriage registered and obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

1. Same-Sex Marriages in California

Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry that a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California, known as Proposition 8, was unconstitutional on June 28, 2013, same-sex marriage has been permitted in the Golden State.

As a result of this ruling, same-sex couples are now able to apply for marriage licenses and get married in California.

Prior to this decision, same-sex couples in California were, however, momentarily permitted to wed after Proposition 22—the state’s ban on same-sex marriage—was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2008.

However, this was only temporary as Proposition 8 was later approved by voters in November of that same year, outlawing same-sex marriage in California once more until it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.

Same-sex couples now have access to the same legal rights and protections as opposite-sex couples in terms of marriage and family law thanks to California’s legalization of same-sex unions in 2013.

Photo by Uriel Mont on Pexels

Can You Perform Weddings in Another State?

Now you know how to get ordained in California. If you were ordained in California, you might be permitted to officiate marriages in other states, but it would depend on their laws and rules.

Who can legally officiate marriages depends on each state’s regulations, and some states may demand additional paperwork or registration before permitting an out-of-state officiant to officiate a wedding.

It’s crucial to learn the rules of the state where you intend to officiate the wedding and to confirm that you are in compliance with all requirements for doing so.

Also, certain governments may impose residence requirements or other limitations on who is permitted to legally officiate marriages.

The general rule is that if you were ordained in California and wish to officiate a wedding in another state, you should get in touch with the local authorities there to find out what you need to do to be approved to do so.

The Bottom Line

If you think you cannot officiate your best friend’s wedding, you are completely wrong. How to get ordained in California is actually not that hard. You can follow the detailed steps in this article and perform weddings.

Getting ordained in California is a relatively straightforward process that can be done online.

Once ordained, you will have the ability to officiate in religious events like weddings, baptisms, and others in California.

Be cautious to examine the exact requirements for your selected group because the qualifications for becoming a minister may differ based on the organization you select.

Though it is important to keep in mind that serving as a wedding officiant entails considerable responsibility, meticulous planning, and attention to detail.

It’s crucial to confirm your knowledge of the formalities needed for the ceremony, your familiarity with cultural norms, and your confidence in your capacity to serve as an officiant.

If you need further assistance on how to get ordained in California, you should look at the state laws regarding the same.

Read more from us here.


Pooja Thakur

About Author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like


Can You Lease a Used Car: 3 Steps to Buy Cheap Cars

Are you looking for a way to cut the price of a car rental? Don’t forget to lease! Leasing a
Beer in Germany

Beer in Germany: 5 Famous Beer You Must Try

A significant aspect of German culture is beer. Beer in Germany is made by the Reinheitsgebot, which only allows water,