Becoming an ordained minister in Missouri is a fairly straightforward process. Any individual age 18 or older, regardless of whether she resides in Missouri, may become ordained and perform marriages in the state. A quick search for "how to get ordained in Missouri” will show all legal requirements for ministers and marriages in the state, including the circumstances under which a marriage is not legally valid.
Who Can Be Ordained in Missouri?
To obtain an ordained minister license in Missouri, an individual only has to be 18 or older. There are many online organizations through which she can obtain an ordained minister license in Missouri inexpensively or even for free, such as Universal Life Church Monastery and Universal Life Church.
An individual can also become an ordained minister in Missouri by attending a religious seminary. The programs individuals must complete to become ordained vary by individual religious organization and in nearly all cases, are far more stringent than the requirements for getting ordained online. Individuals who take this route to be ordained can also do much more than perform marriage ceremonies, like preach to congregations and lead religious communities.
Performing a Marriage Ceremony in Missouri
Under Missouri law, any of these individuals may perform a legally binding wedding ceremony:
- Active or retired clergy member who is in good standing with a church or synagogue in Missouri.
- Any judge.
- Religious group or institution in the state, according to that group’s recognized marriage ceremony practices, as long as at least one of the partners getting married is part of that religious group.
The officiant’s role in a wedding often extends beyond performing the couple’s ceremony. In most cases, the officiant is also tasked with filling out the couple’s marriage license and submitting it to the issuing office to render the marriage legally binding. In Missouri, a marriage license is valid for 30 days following its issuance. It must be signed and filed with the county office that issued it within 15 days of the wedding ceremony.
In Missouri, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk’s office. The couple is tasked with obtaining their own marriage license from the Recorder of Deeds in the county where they plan to wed and to comply with any county-specific fees or regulations imposed on marriage licenses. There is no waiting period imposed on the couple after obtaining their marriage license; they could marry the very same day if they choose. Additionally, the couple does not have to reside in Missouri to obtain a marriage license and be married in the state.
Ordained Minister Missouri Responsibilities
Beyond performing a couple’s marriage ceremony and submitting the completed marriage license to the county Recorder of Deeds within 15 days of performing the ceremony, a minister also must ensure that the marriage he is set to perform is legal. In Missouri, these marriages are not legal:
- Marriages between close relatives, such as siblings, a parent and child or first cousins.
- Any marriage where one or both parties do not have the mental capacity to sign a legally binding document.
- A marriage where either partner is under age 18 and does not have parental permission to marry.
- A marriage where either partner is under age 15 and does not have parental permission to marry and does not have court permission to do so.
- Any marriage where at least one partner is currently married to another person.
Although Missouri law prohibits same-sex marriages, these marriages are legally valid under federal law and thus, valid in Missouri.
Any officiant who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony for a couple who cannot legally marry may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.