Several Something New Entertainment cast and crew members are Ohio-Licensed Ministers who perform wedding ceremonies for a handful of our clients, each year. We can also recommend several great ministers, around the area, who specialize in other types of ceremonies. Still, many of our clients ask about adding the personal touch of a friend or family member to their celebration by asking a “layperson” to officiate their marriage.
Either way — here’s a quick guide through Ohio’s current (as of July 2015) process of granting licensure to wedding officiants. It’s a very simple process, but I’ll walk you through, step by step, just in case. Remember, though: I’m not a government official — just an Ohio-Licensed Minister, myself — so I can’t give you legal advice, and you should definitely get a second opinion, if you have any concerns.
Here’s the skinny: in order to be licensed to solemnize marriages in the State of Ohio, one must first be ordained and granted Ministerial Credentials from a religious organization. Next, they must submit an application, along with their Ministerial Credentials, and pay a small fee to the State.
There are certainly plenty of churches to choose from, but — if your friend doesn’t have a specific affiliation — the Universal Life Church Monastery is undoubtedly the easiest-to-obtain. Total project cost: ~$40.00.
1.) Get ordained at The Universal Life Monastery, Online. (Free)
2.) Also order the Ministerial Credentials (Paper Certificate and Letter of Good Standing) to document the ordination with the Ohio Secretary of State. (~$26.99 + Shipping)
3.) Once your friend has Ministerial Credentials (either from ULC or another organization), they will need to register with the Ohio Secretary of State. You can get the details and download the form, on the official SOS website. You’ll send in a copy of the Ministerial Credentials along with the application, and a check for $10.00.
The turnaround time varies — expect 1-6 weeks — so do this sooner, rather than later, because it’s valid as long as your friend is in good standing with their religious organization. It doesn’t “expire” on a certain date, and it will be one less thing to worry about.
4.) Don’t forget — on your end, you and your future spouse will still need to obtain a marriage license from the County-appropriate Court of Common Pleas.
Keep in mind — much like baking a cake or sewing a dress — just simply having the legal authority to do something doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be any good at it, so be very judicious about who you entrust to perform this important role. In addition to signing some papers and mailing an envelope, this person will also be the person who helps guide you through the process of structuring and writing your ceremony, as well as the “voice of tradition” (new or old) during this ritual — sacred or secular. It’s not the “right DIY job” for everyone, and an experienced public speaking or ministerial professional is always a good option.
Hope this helps, and CONGRATULATIONS!
Special thanks to Mandra, Katie, and Jamie for inspiring this article.