New York-New York City

Can a friend officiate a wedding?

Does anyone know if a friend can officiate a wedding in New York State? 

From what I've found, per NY law an officiant must be an authorized, officially ordained member of the clery or a public official in the state of NY.

Has anyone done this?  If our friend gets ordained online (and registers with the state), will that suffice?


Re: Can a friend officiate a wedding?

  • edited December 2011
    Yes, a friend can officiant - they get get "ordained" online, but have to register with NY.  Here's the link:

    Who can perform a marriage ceremony?

    To be valid, a marriage ceremony must be performed by any of the individuals specified in Section 11 of the New York State Domestic Relations Law. These include:

    • the mayor of a city or village;
    • the former mayor, the city clerk or one of the deputy city clerks of a city of more than one million inhabitants;
    • a marriage officer appointed by the town or village board or the city common council;
    • a justice or judge of the following courts: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western Districts of New York, the New York State Court of Appeals, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, the New York State Supreme Court, the Court of Claims, the Family Court, a Surrogates Court, the Civil and Criminal Courts of New York City (including Housing judges of the Civil Court) and other courts of record;
    • a village, town or county justice;
    • a member of the clergy or minister who has been officially ordained and granted authority to perform marriage ceremonies from a governing church body in accordance with the rules and regulations of the church body;
    • a member of the clergy or minister who is not authorized by a governing church body but who has been chosen by a spiritual group to preside over their spiritual affairs;
    • other officiants as specified by Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law.

    The person performing the ceremony must be registered with the City of New York in order to perform a ceremony within the New York City limits. The officiant does not have to be a resident of New York State. Ship captains are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in New York State.


  • edited December 2011
    Universal Life Church will ordain anyone for free:
  • edited December 2011
    Yes, my sister got ordained just for us.  She used Universal Life Church. 
  • edited December 2011
    2 of our friends are performing the ceremony but we are getting legally married before hand.

    Those websites are legal scams.  It's not legal unless a judge, justice of the peace or member of clergy performs the ceremony. Read that site carefully, it is not legal.   NYS does not let just anyone get ordained.
  • edited December 2011
    anissasimone - your information is incorrect.  A Friend can get ordained through an online source, such as the Universal Life Church (for free).

    Once the ordination has been processed and confirmed, the person must be registered (either in person or by mail) with the supporting documentation at the Clerk's Office a/p the website provided above.
  • edited December 2011
    What CAEid said.  True that just ordination is not enough, but untrue that a ULC ordination is insufficient when you go to register with the state.  It works just fine.
  • ej123ej123 member
    edited December 2011
    Do you know how you register with the state? My officiant got ordained through ULC 
  • edited December 2011
    Yes! Our crazy friend Rob married us because of Universal Life Church ordainment.
  • edited December 2011
    I don't trust it.  I did a lot of research and my brother spoke to matrimony attorneys for me (he worked with them).  I don't want my marriage to not be legal (I heard horror stories).  I am getting legally married before hand and the ceremony the day of the wedding will be symbolic.
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