Several clients have considered and asked my advice on a friend or family member serving as the officiant at their wedding. My answer is always the same: What an amazing way to personalize this important day!
Now, I am not usually in favor of giving friends and family “tasks” for your wedding, but this is one instance that I break my own rule. I can’t think of anything more special to a couple than to have the people who know you the best presiding over your ceremony at the moment that you are married.
So, what do you do if the person you would like to officiate your wedding is not a minister or judge? The laws vary from state to state, but I will let you know what the rules are in Franklin County, Ohio.
In Ohio, the only people who can solemnize a marriage are:
For a friend or family member, they are most likely going to fall into option 1 on this list. So the first step is to become ordained online. The easiest way to do this is through the Universal Life Church Monestery website. Once your officiant fills out and submits the application, he/she will receive a confirmation email that serves as receipt of ordination. Additional credentials can also be ordered through this website that you will need to present to the Secretary of State of Ohio. It’s a relatively simple process.
Once your officiant receives confirmation, the next step is to register with the state of Ohio. Most of this process can be completed online, or you can simply contact the Secretary of State of Ohio’s office and let them know that you are planning to officiate a wedding in Ohio. You will be required to register, which involves filling out an application (available online), submitting your credentials, and paying a $10 filing fee.
And then you wait…
Once your application and credentials have been reviewed and confirmed, the office will issue a license and proof of registration. And now it’s official! You can begin working with your officiant on the details and personalization of your wedding ceremony together.
The main thing to remember is: do not wait until the last minute. This process should begin 9 months to a year prior to the wedding, so that it is off of your “to-do” list well in advance. You cannot rush the Secretary of State and planning ahead can eliminate any unnecessary stress.
Photographer: Ali Bonamo Photography