Have you been asked to officiate at a friend’s wedding? Or maybe you’re getting married and would like a dear friend to do the honors!
Many couples these days are choosing to do just that, bypassing the tradition of being married by official clergy in favor of having a close friend officiate for them. It’s a way of making your ceremony that much more intimate and, when the right friend is chosen, it can make for a very powerful event. Yet, what are the steps for becoming legally able to officiate a wedding without attending a seminary? If the wedding is taking place in Maryland, you’re in luck: the requirements and rules for this state are wonderfully lax, making the process a simple one.
According to Maryland state law, any “official of a religious order or body authorized by the rules and customs of that order or body to perform a marriage ceremony” can legally officiate a wedding. This basically means that if you’ve been invested by any religious organization with the power to perform a marriage, then you can do so in Maryland. This is easier to accomplish than you might think. There are lots of registered churches out there which will provide minister credentials to anyone who simply fills out a form online and pays a small fee. Examples of these churches include The Universal Life Church, First Nation Ministry, and American Fellowship Church, all of which promise to turn around applications within a matter of days. Once you’ve received your credentials, you simply have to file them with the state of Maryland in order to be licensed to perform marriages. That’s it!
When it comes time for the wedding, you, as the officiant, will have the task of signing the marriage license and certificate and giving a copy of the certificate to the newly wedded couple. Finally, you will have to return the original certificate by mail to the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas within five days after the wedding ceremony.