Wedding Officiant: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
A wedding officiant performs large and small wedding ceremonies in a variety of venues. Depending on state regulations, wedding officiants can be clergy members, judges and court clerks.
Wedding Officiants Job Description
Wedding officiants are licensed by their state to perform legally marry two individuals. Depending on the laws of the state, only certain individuals are authorized to solemnize marriages. The most common wedding officiants are clergy members, ministers, justices of the peace, judges or court clerks; however, this list may also include notaries and ship captains.
As stated, a number of officials may perform weddings, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has employment outlook data for many of these careers. Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates were expected to have a 2% rise in jobs from 2012 to 2022, whereas 11% growth was predicted for court clerks, along with municipal and license clerks. Job openings for clergy members were expected to grow by 10% in that same decade. These professions had a wide range of average salaries as of 2013: judges, magistrate judges and magistrates made $105,380, clergy made $47,540, and court, municipal and license clerks made $36,850.
Clergymen and Ministers
Clergymen and ministers are ordained by their religious organization to lead members in worship and other spiritual practices, such as wedding ceremonies. They serve as religious counselors offering guidance to their followers in spiritual and moral matters. Wedding officiants in this category may also be known as pastor, minister, rabbi, preacher, chaplain, vicar and related designations.
Clergymen and ministers guide couples on the road to marriage. They may provide pre-marital and spiritual counseling, as well as perform the couple's wedding ceremony and sign the marriage license.
The traditional route to becoming ordained as a clergy member is to attend a religious school or seminary. These schools offer a range of religious education from certificate programs to graduate degrees in religion or theology studies. Online programs are also available that offer ordination as a clergy member. While some online institutions have no minimum age requirements, states generally require that those performing marriage ceremonies be at least 18 years of age.
Judges and Justices of the Peace
Judges or judicial workers work out of courthouses overseeing legal proceedings. They make rulings in cases and settle disputes. Judges and justices of the peace may also research legal issues, oversee court operations and give opinions.
Judges oversee cases and legal procedures in courts. Justices of the peace are judges that work in municipal or county courthouses supervising minor cases such as traffic violations, probate and misdemeanors. They prepare for legal proceedings in their chambers by reviewing documents submitted by parties to the cases. In some states, judges and justices of the peace may also solemnize marriages.
Most federal and state court judges must first become attorneys and have some legal experience. Becoming an attorney requires attending law school and passing the bar examination in the chosen state of practice. Some states do not require their judges to be lawyers, but legal experience provides greater career opportunities.
Court clerks work out of a court or municipal agency preparing licenses and securing information for judges. They also handle accounts and records. Court clerks prepare agendas, answer correspondence and secure data.
Some states allow deputy court clerks to perform marriages. They perform the ceremony either in the courthouse or in their office. They also sign the marriage license and collect the fee. Additional duties include assisting judges, preparing paperwork and correspondence.
Court clerks are usually only required to have a bachelor's degree in public administration or an administrative related profession. However, a master's degree or law degree may sometimes be preferred for higher-level clerk positions. Deputy clerks typically need extended experience. They are also typically required to demonstrate communication and management skills.
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