How to Obtain a License to Perform Marriages in Kentucky

Married couple
••• wedding image by Mat Hayward from

Many people find themselves wondering how they can perform weddings, especially when close friends and loved ones get engaged and ask them to be part of their wedding ceremonies. Officiating a loved one’s wedding is a generous, unforgettable way to be part of a loved one’s special day. In order to perform this role in Kentucky, an individual has to obtain a license to officiate at weddings. This process is also known as getting ordained.

Who Can Perform Weddings in Kentucky?

Under Kentucky law, only certain individuals are qualified to perform marriage ceremonies:

  • Ministers, priests and all other religious leaders in regular communion with their religious communities.
  • Judges and justices, both active and retired.

Individuals who do not already fit into one of these categories can easily become ordained and officiate at weddings in Kentucky.

Additionally, religious groups without officiating members can also solemnize marriages when at least one of the parties getting married consents to this type of marriage, and the wedding takes place at the group’s typical place of worship. In all Kentucky weddings, at least two witnesses – other than the couple and the officiant – must be present at the ceremony for the marriage to be legally binding.

Getting a License to Perform Weddings

To obtain a license to perform weddings, an individual has to be 18 years of age or older. He does not have to live in Kentucky to become ordained to perform marriages in Kentucky. Individuals who get ordained to perform weddings in Kentucky are not required to register their status with any government office. Rather, they must get ordained through private organizations, such as churches or online platforms specifically for ordaining individuals for the purpose of performing marriages.

Having a license to perform weddings does not mean an officiant can conduct marriages that violate Kentucky laws, however. In Kentucky, it is illegal for minors to marry without parental consent, for individuals to be married to two or more persons at once and for an individual who is unable to consent to legal contracts to enter into a marriage.

Getting Ordained Online

An internet search for “how to be able to perform weddings” turns up many different online options. A few popular, free options for becoming an ordained officiant include: the Universal Life Church and American Marriage Ministries. Getting ordained on many of these websites is an instant process. All the applicant needs to provide are name, email address, home state and country.

Online ordination platforms typically provide walkthroughs of how to conduct weddings, guides for writing marriage ceremonies and vows, and state-specific information about obtaining and filing legal paperwork on behalf of the couples the officiant marries. Although an ordained officiant is not required to register with a government office, she may be asked at some point to prove that she is ordained. With this in mind, officiants are often advised to keep all of their ordination documentation handy to use when necessary.

Performing Legitimate Marriages

Technically, even an individual who is not qualified to perform a marriage in Kentucky can conduct a legitimate, legally binding marriage. The key to a nonqualified officiant conducting a legitimate marriage is the married couple’s reasonable belief that the officiant was qualified to marry them. If the couple thought this to be true when they consummated their marriage, the marriage is deemed to be legitimate.

Once the ceremony is performed, the officiant’s final task is to complete her section of the marriage license. Although some officiants also handle the process of filing the couple’s completed marriage certificate with the county clerk’s office, this is typically the married couple’s responsibility.

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