How to Obtain a License to Perform Marriages in Kentucky

By Fraser Sherman - Updated March 20, 2017
Married couple

wedding image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com

Officiating at weddings used to be strictly the province of clergy and judges. These days, however, it's not uncommon for couples to ask a friend to perform a ceremony, for example as a notary public. Other people just like the idea of being able to marry two people in love. The exact requirements for obtaining legal authority to perform a marriage vary from state to state; in Kentucky, only religious figures and judges can do it.

Become a judge or justice in Kentucky and you have the authority to perform weddings, even after you retire. Ministers and priests "of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society" also have that power. Religious groups that do not have priests or similar figures may perform marriages communally.

Consider mail-order or internet ordination if you're not already a Kentucky justice or minister. Websites such as open-ministry.org or firstnationministry.org offer this service.

Visit the county clerk in whichever part of Kentucky the wedding will be held and request a license to perform marriages.

Warning

Even if you're licensed, it's illegal in Kentucky to "solicit, persuade, entice, direct or induce" couples to come to you for the ceremony, or to have someone else do it on your behalf.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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