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

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.)

Posted In:     Magazines,Weddings

Previous Post

Cents-ible spending: Making ends meet and avoiding big day budget busters

Next Post

Gimme shelter: How to tent your event (just in case)

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of