How to Become a Wedding Officiant Online in California

Dec 18, 2019

This article discusses who wedding officiates are, what they do, and how to become one. For the state of California, there are two similar ways to become an officiate of weddings online.

Information about Wedding Officiants

Wedding officiants are individuals who oversee a marriage or a civil union. They give verbal cues to the couple on what to say and do and pronounce them officially and legally together. Wedding officiants can be members of a religious organization, such as priests or pastors. Wedding officiants can also be deputized by the governing state or can become ordained as a minister through online organizations. Some of the steps to become a wedding officiant can be completed online in the state of California. Wedding officiants can practice other professions at the same time as overseeing marriages.

The following table discusses wedding officiants from the clergy (priests, pastors, rabbi, etc.).

Required Skills Public Speaking
Job Growth for Clergy Nationwide* 6% Growth 2018-2028
Mean Salary for Clergy in California* $67,140 annually (2018)

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a Wedding Officiant Online in California

Those wishing to officiate a wedding in California who are not members of the clergy will need to follow these three steps; most of the requirements can be done online.

Step One: Decide to be an Ordained Minister or a Deputy for a Day

There are two ways to be able to officiate a wedding in California. One is to go through an online organization and be ordained a minister, which could be a free process or may require a fee, depending on the selected website. This process of submitting the form online and receiving certification as an ordained minister usually takes a day or two depending on the website. The second way is to be deputized for a day in California, which is done in person. The county of registration should be the same county that the marriage or civil union will take place in. Deputy for a day programs are not available in all counties in California. People interested in the deputy for a day programs can get extensive information about the program through online research.

Step Two: Complete the Required Process

The online ordination option requires basic information in order to become a minister such as name, address, and birthday. Further, the applicant will need to agree to the Terms and Conditions of the online organization he or she is using to be ordained a minister, such as the organization's Code of Ethics. Some online organizations will also send a clergy card to the individual's house upon approval of the application. To be deputized for a day, the individual needs to appear in person and show valid photo identification, attend a training class, and pay the required fee to the county clerk's office. The application for this process needs to be mailed or faxed to the county clerk's office where the wedding will be held.

Step Three: Get Approved

Depending on the online site used to become ordained, the official certification can be sent via email or a temporary certification can be sent via email and the official one through regular mail. Certain online ordination sites also recommend additional training in order to be familiar with the duties of a minister, but they are not required. The online service of the applicant's choice will have all the information available online.

For deputy for a day programs, once the other requirements are completed, the individual needs to bring a copy of the marriage license of the couple being married at the time of deputization. For both options, it is important that the wedding officiant and the couple getting married or uniting under a civil union are familiar with California marriage laws. This information can be found online by researching California Legislative Information, Family Code, Sections 420-425.

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