How to Marry Someone in Four Easy Steps

Newlywed couple laughing as they walk down the aisle.

Have you recently been asked to officiate someone’s wedding? This can be an exciting moment, as it shows a friend or family member trusts you with this important honor. You likely have a ton of questions about the process of becoming a wedding officiant and how to carry out the actual ceremony. If it’s your first time in this role, it can be hard to know exactly how to get started. Follow these tips and learn how you can perform a wedding ceremony in four simple steps.

1. Get Ordained

First and foremost, you must become an ordained minister to officiate a wedding. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the Universal Life Church Ministries our free, legal process allows anyone over age 18 who feels called to get ordained online. No matter what particular faith views you or the engaged couple might hold, the first step on the journey to becoming an ordained minister is as simple as filling out an application with some basic information. Tackling this task first will help you feel prepared to take on the rest.

2. Understand Wedding Paperwork

Anyone who has gotten married before knows that there is a lot of paperwork involved in the process. While the couple will be taking care of a majority of this, you will still be needed when it comes to providing signatures and completing the officiant’s section of the wedding license.

You also must be somewhat familiar with local marriage laws, as there may be additional steps required of the officiant as per county ordinances. Some couples also feel more comfortable if an officiant shows proof of his or her status as a minister upfront. To that end, the ULC offers a wide range of ordained minister packages and other wedding supplies for purchase in its online catalog.

3. Perform the Wedding Ceremony

Once you’ve handled all of the preliminary work, it is time to dive into the details of the ceremony. Work with the couple to determine what they expect from the ceremony and what they do and do not want included. Some may prefer a more formal affair, while others may want you to encourage a sense of relaxation in your words and tone. Your wedding officiant script should be finalized with enough time before the event for you to commit it to memory or at least become deeply familiar with it.

If you’re having trouble coming up with the right layout for your wedding script, check out the ULC’s wedding ceremony script generator. This can provide you with the template you need to put together a text that matches the wishes and beliefs of the couple.

4. Sign and Finalize All Documents

Minister signing the marriage license

If you have an existing relationship with the couple, it may be tempting to end the ceremony and immediately jump into the celebration with everyone at the reception. Before you can do that, however, you need to make sure you have signed all the required documents so that the paperwork is considered finalized. The marriage license needs to be signed by the officiant and both spouses, and you should try to take care of this task as soon as the ceremony ends. If the party starts right away, you may forget.

As mentioned, every county or town has different laws when it comes to marriage licenses and paperwork. Conducting a little research will help clue you in to what is expected by law. You can also refer to the ULC’s state-by-state guide to local laws to get a feel for what is considered proper documentation. For example, the California marriage laws page describes in detail what is required, in a legal sense, to officiate a wedding across the state and its individual localities.

Additional Tips

While the aforementioned steps cover the basics, you may have a few other worries swirling about in your mind. If you’re nervous about your delivery, run through the script as many times as you need to. You can even consider going to the venue in advance to test out the acoustics. Projecting your voice is necessary in larger spaces where sound can get swallowed by the room. Remember to enjoy yourself, too. If you look uncomfortable the entire time, the other guests may not get into the romantic spirit of the occasion.

Officiating a wedding is a big honor and it requires a good amount of preparation. Give yourself ample time to take on the steps discussed here. Be sure to take advantage of the many tools and resources provided by the Universal Life Church Ministries. But above all, don’t forget to have fun!