Make it official: If you’re skipping tradition, abide by these rules

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Photo: Sarah Goodwin Photo: Sarah Goodwin

Choosing the perfect officiant is another great way to put a personal stamp on your ceremony. But if you’re planning to ask a friend to officiate your wedding, in Virginia there are a few rules.

First off, throw out the internet ordination your friend spent 20 minutes obtaining; they aren’t recognized in our area. Now that you’ve done that, you have two routes: You can get a minister (ordained in a church of a legitimate denomination) to present her certificate of ordination and a letter of good standing to the clerk’s office for review. Once it’s approved, you’ll receive an order from the court to perform the marriage.

The second possibility is for laypersons who want to officiate a wedding—your friends, family, boss, basically anyone you choose who isn’t a member of the clergy. To get certified, call the county clerk’s office and ask to make an appointment with the judge to obtain a one-time officiant order. You’ll meet with him, answer a few questions about the wedding and your relationship to the couple and then pay a $52 filing fee, all of which allows you—one time only!—to perform a marriage anywhere in the Commonwealth. One thing to note here, says county clerk Llezelle Dugger: You must get the one-time officiant order in the Virginia county where you reside. (In other words, if you’re flying in your best friend who lives in Australia and expecting her to perform the wedding, you’re outta luck.)

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