Who can perform a marriage ceremony?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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Usually the state laws provide any recognized member of the clergy (such as a Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, Cantor, Ethical Culture Leader, etc.), or a judge, a court clerk, and justices of the peace have authority to perform a marriage. However in some states even the clergy must be first certified or licensed.

Some states have laws that permit other persons to apply for authority to perform marriage ceremonies. For example, California law permits anyone to apply for permission to become a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages — the grant of authority is valid for one day — and thus officiate at the wedding of family or friends on that one day.

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