Who is Legally Allowed to Marry You?

Updated 03/07/15

The Mountain Photographers

When thinking about an officiant, you're likely running through a list in your mind of who would be right for the position on a personal level. A childhood religious leader, close relative or friend are often options that will first pop up when discussing your officiant. But, depending on who you really want to lead your wedding ceremony, they may not be legally able to marry you and your fiancé. You'll need to examine the legalities just as much as you consider a person's personality traits. Consult these factors below when thinking of an officiant, so if you're person of choice isn't able to, they can get certified in time!

If you're having a civil ceremony (A.K.A. a non-religious ceremony) a judge, justice of the peace, or court clerk who has been granted the authority can perform your wedding ceremony. Contrary to popular belief, ship captains can't always perform the wedding rites (although more and more cruise lines are getting their captains legally certified). If you're at a loss of who can, indeed, marry you, consult your state's Domestic Relations Law. Most often the positions with the authority to marry you will include your town or village's mayor, a city clerk, an appointed marriage officer, a justice or judge, an officially ordained member of a religious clergy, and a tribal chief (for a Native American wedding). A clergy member who hasn't been granted the authority by his church or temple can still marry you, actually, as long as their specific spiritual group has chosen that person to handle and lead all of their spiritual affairs.

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