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How to Become a Wedding Officiant in the State of PA

Close Up Of Couple At Wedding Holding Hands

The state of Pennsylvania requires that any officiant be an ordained minister, rabbi or officiant in a religious institution to legally conduct weddings. However, judges, former judges and mayors of any city within Pennsylvania may also perform wedding ceremonies. Former mayors may also perform weddings, as long as they meet certain requirements. Some counties in Pennsylvania have issued warnings saying that anyone who becomes an ordained member of a church online and does not regularly preach to a congregation, cannot legally perform a wedding in the state of Pennsylvania.

Traditional Clergyman

Research how to become a clergy member in your religion. Prerequisites may involve schooling beyond college, as well as an ordination ceremony. Study and complete any required courses and pass the exams. You can also spend time as an associate to another clergy member to become ordained within your religion.

Online Clergyman

Using the website of a church that allows you to become a minister almost instantly used to work in Pennsylvania. After the case of Heyer v. Hollerbush, the State now frowns upon this and says that couples choosing to be married in this manner will have the burden of proof to demonstrate that they are legally married. There have been subsequent cases upholding marriages performed by officiants certified by Universal Life Church (one of the well-known online certifiers). If you are set on having someone perform your ceremony with online qualifications, it is recommended that you seek legal advice to be sure your marriage will be recognized.

Mayor or Former Mayor

Serve as mayor for an entire term. If you run for multiple terms and you are defeated, you cannot continue to perform marriage ceremonies. Observe all laws while you are a mayor. A former or current mayor cannot perform weddings if she has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Resignation while you are a mayor, specifically to avoid legal implications of wrongdoings, disqualifies you from performing marriages in Pennsylvania.

About the Author

Writing since 2008, Fiona Miller has taught English in Eastern Europe and also teaches kids in New York schools about the Holocaust. Her work can be found on Overstock.com, ConnectED and various other Web sites. Miller holds a B.A. in French from Chapman University and an M.A. in educational theater from New York University.

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