Gig Business

How to Become a Wedding Officiant & Successfully Book Gigs

By Heather Roonan

You’re not the type to shy away from public speaking, you’ve got a knack for storytelling, and, most importantly, you love love. 

Sound familiar? If so, you might want to look into officiating weddings for a living.

Lucky for you, we’re dishing out all the need-to-know details on becoming a wedding officiant—and making more than just a few bucks while you’re at it. Dust off your black robes, prepare your speech, and join us as we dive in. 

Step 1: Do your research

If you’ve reached this sentence, you’re already doing one thing right: your research.

Online ordinations have made it increasingly easy to become a bonafide wedding officiant. But laws and limitations can sometimes make the road to officiating confusing. So, before you start preparing the opening lines for your first marriage ceremony, be sure you have the answer to the following two questions.

What kind of officiant do you want to be?

To understand exactly how to become a wedding officiant, you need to think about which path you want to take. Depending on the types of weddings you want to officiate—and perhaps your personal beliefs—there are three options available to you:

  • A professional officiant – Also called a secular officiant (or simply a celebrant), professional officiants are generally non-religious officials. By staying away from any specific religion, secular officiants open themselves to non-denominational ceremonies, gay and lesbian weddings, and less orthodox gigs. With that said, as a professional officiant, you’ll likely need to weave in religious traditions from time to time.
  • A religious officiant – Perhaps the most well-known, traditional option, religious officiants follow the rules and restrictions of their faith when performing marriages. To officiate weddings for followers of a specific faith, you may have to become a leader of that faith first—think priest, rabbi, minister, or imam.
  • An interfaith officiant – Interfaith officiants exist at the crossroads between religious and professional officiants. As an interfaith minister, you’ll specialize in intertwining two faiths to create a cohesive ceremony that respects everyone’s traditions. Working as an interfaith officiant requires extensive knowledge of two or more religions.

You may notice that we’ve omitted the fourth category of wedding officiant from this guide—the civil officiant. While government employees like judges and notaries can perform marriages, that’s not their primary role. For that reason, we’ve excluded them from the list—but don’t let that stop you from working weddings, Mr. Mayor!

Wedding officiant performing a handfasting ceremony

What are your state’s requirements?

Before you sign up for a course or send out your ordination application, you should confirm that you’ll be eligible to marry couples in your jurisdiction.

For example, some states won’t allow you to perform marriages until you register with a government board. Registration generally involves showing proof of your ordination and paying a small licensing fee.

At the time of writing, the following states and territories require officiant registration:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia (D.C.)
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Because completing registration can take several weeks, you should research all the laws in your state, county, and city well ahead of your first potential gig.

While you’re researching, it’s also worth looking into your state’s marriage laws. You’ll need to become an expert to be a successful wedding officiant, so you might as well start now.

All of this fact-finding is essential, as your state’s requirements will likely influence how you become ordained. Case in point: Online ordinations are not recognized in Virginia or parts of New York and Pennsylvania. In Tennessee, the possibility of internet-ordained ministers performing marriages is currently up in the air.

Step 2: Become an ordained minister

For the ceremonies you oversee to be legally binding, you need to be ordained by a recognized organization. You can receive certification to perform marriages in one of two ways.

Online ordination

Some secular organizations provide ordination in exchange for a small fee. These services allow you to become an ordained minister with a minimal investment of time or effort.

However, if you’re serious about working as a professional wedding officiant, you should look into completing a training course. Many of these online organizations offer (or require) training alongside their certifications. Some of the more well-known non-denominational churches that offer legitimate ordination include:

  • Universal Life Church
  • American Marriage Ministries
  • Church of Spiritual Humanism

Theological education

If you want to work as a religious minister, you’ll often need to complete a rigorous academic program. Post-secondary programs are available for followers of many faiths.

For example, those looking to work as Christian ministers may need to pursue a Master of Divinity, a Bachelor of Theology, or another degree at their local university.

Completing an advanced program through a school takes between one and four years. At the end of your courses, you’ll be ready to perform duties in a place of worship—including overseeing wedding ceremonies.

Once you’ve received your certification, you can officially officiate weddings. Now the fun begins!

Step 3: Create a website

If you’re dedicated to growing a business in our modern world, a website is a must-have. A simple, well-made website shows potential clients that you’re a professional. It can also save you time, as it will answer many of the questions your couples might have.

Your website should contain:

  • Your religious affiliation (or lack thereof)
  • The services you offer
  • Your rates
  • The distance you are willing to travel
  • Videos of past ceremonies
  • Client testimonials
  • Contact information
Get wedding officiant gigs with a free profile on GigSalad!

Step 4: Start working as an officiant

Whether you plan to oversee a wedding here and there or book every weekend of the summer, officiating weddings can be exhilarating. You’ll experience the rare joy of bringing two people together for the rest of their lives.

Aside from standing up at the altar on the big day, you’ll have other responsibilities to attend to. The many roles of an officiant may include:

  • Obtaining, completing, and filing the marriage license
  • Ensuring the ceremony runs smoothly
  • Writing custom wedding ceremonies
  • Helping couples prepare their vows
  • Providing premarital counseling

Some couples will want all of these services, while others won’t need more than a 15-minute spiel at city hall. With that in mind, rates for wedding officiants can vary dramatically. For more information on how much you could earn performing marriages, check out our guide on the cost of a wedding officiant.

Where to find work as a wedding officiant

Of course, before you can start your work as a wedding officiant, you’ll need to find clients. With more than two million weddings taking place each year in the U.S., there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to seize. But first, you need to know where to look.

Through a place of worship

As a religious officiant, most of your business will come directly from a church or temple. In theory, that church will be the one you work at. Your parishioners may ask you to officiate their wedding, whether it be at the church or outside of its walls.

Through friends and family

In your first year of officiating weddings, requests may be slow. Until you can make a name for yourself in the local marriage circuit, try approaching family members, acquaintances, or coworkers to see if they need an officiant.

By offering your services to trusted members of your community first, you can collect some positive reviews before entering the larger wedding market. Don’t forget to display those testimonials on your website.


Ah, the internet. Between Facebook, Reddit, and classified sites, you can find thousands of posts looking for professional wedding officiants—all for free.

Unfortunately, that means everyone will have access to the same resources as you. When you’re trying to make a living as an officiant, that competition can make it challenging to find leads.

For a more fruitful, streamlined approach, try GigSalad. As the number one online marketplace for event bookings, GigSalad quickly connects you with nearby couples looking for wedding officiants. Best of all, you can try it for free.

👉 Read more: 6 Tips for Optimizing Your GigSalad Profile to Get More Leads

Religious officiant performs a traditional wedding ceremony.

Quick tips for wedding officiants

Your duties as a celebrant go beyond showing up and signing the marriage license. To make every couple’s big day as memorable as possible, follow these tidbits of advice.

Rehearse your lines

A marriage ceremony isn’t a dress rehearsal for the school play; it’s the real deal. You only have one shot to nail the performance. As such, preparation is vital.

Be sure to practice:

  • The names of the couple
  • The speeches you have to make
  • The speed and cadence of your lines
  • The order of the ceremony

Dress to impress

As an officiant, you’re a central figure in the wedding ceremony—both literally and figuratively. You’ll be front and center in some of the newlyweds’ most cherished photos, so be sure to look your best.

Don’t forget who you’re trying to impress. For some couples, dressing appropriately may not mean wearing a three-piece suit. The pair may want you to wear a specific color or a traditional outfit; be sure to respect their wishes.

GigSalad: Fall in love with the convenience

If you’re looking to add more weddings to the work week or trying to simply get your business off the ground, you’re in the right place. No matter your rates, officiating style, or experience level, GigSalad can help you book more events than ever before.

Create your profile today and watch the wedding invites pile up.

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