Notary Bulletin How Notaries Can Add 'Wedding Officiant' To Their List Of Services By Kelle Clarke on May 14, 2014 in Alternate Income Opportunities Currently, only Florida, South Carolina, Maine and Nevada authorize Notaries to perform weddings as part of their official duties. However, entrepreneurial Notaries in other states are finding innovative ways to add “wedding officiant” to their growing list of client services. Virginia Notary and small business owner John Cole became an ordained minister online. “Internet ordination is totally legal and recognized in most jurisdictions,” says Cole. He then registered as an ordained minister in the jurisdictions in which he wanted to perform the rites of marriage, automatically placing himself on an official list of ministers. “You can then market your services in much the same way as you market your Notary services,” said Cole, who uses a professional website to advertise all of his services. “I specialize in last minute weddings with a price point of $150, all inclusive. I've performed about 150 weddings so far.” Notaries who become ordained ministers can market their services through social media platforms, a professional website, business cards and brochures placed in strategic locations such as bridal conventions and boutiques, and even car decals, t-shirts or other “leave-behinds” such as magnets, pens, or desk calendars. You can also use your Notary business as a way to advertise. Cole’s first ever job as a wedding officiant came by way of a conversation during a routine notarization, when the signers inquired about Cole’s wedding services. “Two weeks later I performed my first marriage ceremony,” says Cole. “It was a very nice home ceremony and an event that I will never forget. If you treat a family well at a signing, you open up the possibility of being the person that notarizes their life documents, their children's documents, and, in this case, joins the couple in marriage.” Like Cole, California Notary Valerie Barrett discovered being a Notary allows her to offer additional client services. Barrett’s inspiration to become ordained came when a friend’s daughter got married. “The officiant totally dropped the ball,” says Barrett. “And I thought, why can’t I do it?” An ordained friend helped mentor her though the process, using an online organization that required coursework, mentorship, and completion of an online exam. Upon completion, Barrett received a license allowing her to perform wedding ceremonies in all 50 states. “I sit down with my couples to ask questions, such as how they met and what is most important to them,” says Barrett, who then uses this information to write the couple’s vows and to personalize the ceremony. She then inquires whether they need a certified copy of their wedding license (which California requires if the couple wishes to receive a confidential marriage license), if they’ll be doing a legal name change, or if they’ll require any other documents or notarizations — all of which she can provide. “These are the last things most couples are thinking about,” says Barrett. Combining her Notary and officiant services allows her to offer clients a customized approach. “I complete all the paperwork, get their signatures and pop it all in the mail,” says Barrett. “It’s my job to make sure it is done correctly. They trust me to do the job right.” Notaries interested in becoming wedding officiants should begin by checking state wedding laws. For example, licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Contact the county clerk in the counties in which you want to perform weddings for more information. A simple Google search on “How to become ordained” yields numerous links and organizations, but be sure to vet each carefully to find out if they are reputable, what the fees and requirements are, and where, exactly, the ordination is recognized. Some ministries will ordain you for life; others require annual license renewals. Though many of the online ordination sites are non-denominational, those actively involved in a church might also want to consult their clergy before pursuing ordination to see if it might affect your standing in the church. Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association. Email Share 9 Comments Add your commentJoann Ahlemeyer 16 Feb 2015Looking for the online site you used to be ordained in all 50 states. Wondering if you could share that information. I am in VirginiaNational Notary Association17 Feb 2015Hello, There are many organizations that offer ordination in different states. I'm sorry that we aren't familiar with the specific organization you are describing, but you may wish to try searching online for "Become a Wedding Officiant in Virginia" or "How do I perform weddings in Virginia." Good luck!Katrice Jones03 Mar 2015This is great information I am a Wedding Officiant in the State of Ohio so I appreciate this article.Leslie30 Jun 2015To Joann Ahlemeyer I saw your question about the where to find the listing or website that offers the wedding officiant ordination in all 50 states. I was curious myself, so I googled it and here is a link to the site I came across that offers such ordinations.. http://www.open-ministry.org/need-attend-seminary-a-23.html Good luck.Felicia E. Ammons05 Aug 2015I would like to have details how to become a Wedding Officiant. I would like to have all of the information how to ordain clients.National Notary Association07 Aug 2015Hello. As mentioned above, Notaries interested in becoming wedding officiants should begin by checking state wedding laws. For example, licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Contact the county clerk in the counties in which you want to perform weddings for more information. A simple Google search on “How to become ordained” yields numerous links and organizations, but be sure to vet each carefully to find out if they are reputable, what the fees and requirements are, and where, exactly, the ordination is recognized. Some ministries will ordain you for life; others require annual license renewals.Camille Walters11 Aug 2015Hello. I am a Notary and SigningAgent as well as a Marriage Officiant. You can contact Universal Life Church for the information. There are two, so mmake sure you are registering with the correct one www.ulchq.com. Depending on your state they will provide you with the proper documents and or information for your respective state.Peggy King15 Mar 2016I find it appalling that one would call oneself an Ordained Minister when the title of Marriage Officiant is most appropriate for those who obtain the legal (government-based legality) capacity to perform wedding ceremonies in an online setting. I am an Ordained Minister of the Gospel via ordination through an Ordained and Licensed Minister of the Gospel and the witness of many people. I am a born-again Christian who can proudly state I am an Ordained Minister, not a Marriage Officiant. While I believe a Notary Public should be able to perform such ceremonies, please call yourself what you are - a Marriage Officiant. You cannot buy an ordination! That is a gift from God.KDS29 May 2016And fair enough. I do not think that any notary who has not been through the seminary should be calling him- or herself an "ordained minister", even if that is what the website calls you when you are done completing the application. "Wedding officiant" is much more appropriate both in terms of services performed and qualifications met. With regard to becoming certified to become an officiant in "all 50 states", anyone who has been "ordained" by any religious or pseudo-religious body can apparently officiate at a wedding in any state and have that union recognized by that state, though each state and each county within each state may/ will have its own local regulations with regard to waiting periods and ID requirements for those being married. But officiants, no: so long as some organization somewhere considers you a "minister", you are a minister. In California, the state doesn't even track who is registered to be a minister. So long as your license is paid for, signed, witnessed, and mailed in on time, you're seemingly good to go. What I would LIKE to see is what has happened when one of these pseudo religious marriages is challenged in a lawsuit on the grounds that the officiant wasn't really a registered "minister." Now, THAT would be interesting. Anyone know of such a case??Leave a Comment Required * Name * Email *(for verfication purposes only) Comment * Enter the text shown in this image *(text is case sensitive)All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.