Dear PoPville – Help with Registration Process for Performing a Wedding

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mylar Bono

“Dear PoPville,

I know this is a strange question, but my fiance and I are in a predicament, and we were hoping you could help. We are planning on getting married October 15th and a friend of ours is hoping to officiate. He is registered with the Universal Life Church (the internet church) and performed a friend’s marriage in Rhode Island. We checked with the DC Marriage Bureau and he needs to register in DC in order for it to be legit. Unfortunately, the registration process is quite in depth and he would have to provide documentation on his church, his congregation, how he is paid to be a minister…etc.

Since he only became “ordained” in order to perform the marriage, he obviously doesn’t have this sort of back up documentation. The only other option we have is we get a minister who is registered in DC to endorse him (by signing off on his application form). Is anyone a Universal Life Church minister registered in DC that would be willing to endorse our friend (and kinda fast too). Can anyone help?”

If anyone can help please with an endorsement please email me and I’ll put you in touch with the reader.

26 Comment

  • I don’t understand how this is a problem at all. Go get a civil ceremony from DC before or after your friend “marries” you. It’s a fake church, so why does it matter if his ceremony is the legal one of not? It’s kind of shitty that government is so wrapped up in religion that they get to decide what qualifies as a church and a minister since it’s all a bunch of ridiculous nonsense anyway, be it the Christians, Jews, Scientologists, Muslims, or fake internet ministers. But if DC says a fake minister isn’t qualified to perform marriages, go to someone who is and have a fun wedding. It really should only matter to you, so if you want to consider one “official” as opposed to legal, the District’s not going to step in and say you can only celebrate your anniversary on the day on the piece of with the stamp.

  • In the alternative, have your friend do the ceremony the day of and then go to the JOP (either before or after) to make it official.

  • My wife and I — and numerous friends of ours — had wedding performed out of town by non-licensed officiants. We simply obtained the marriage certificate before or after the wedding. Yes, that means that you are legally married at a different moment from the wedding. But for us, the wedding ceremony mattered far more than the bureaucratic requirements of DC. For my wife and I, getting
    “married” (ok, married) alone at the courthouse before the wedding was bonus fun.

  • If we can’t find an endorser, our plan is to go to the courts and get married in front of a judge. We were just hoping to have our friend be able to make it legal, because it would be somewhat meaningful coming from him. It’s not the end of the world to us if it can’t happen b/c our ceremony will be what we remember as the real deal – not the paperwork we complete with the government. We just thought we would try and see if we could get him registered before giving up on it.

    • Go to Virginia the morning of the ceremony. I’ve known several people who can do that. Apparently the rules for internet ministers are more lenient there.

    • we tried to do the same thing. my husband and I have a very close personal friend who wanted to officiate our wedding. We tried for months to get him on the official rolls here in DC to no avail. good luck.

  • I would have to echo these remarks, you are getting married to be with your loved one not to check a box with the government, so it should not matter how you check that box.

  • The ULC apparently is not liked by the DC gov’t. I’ve run into this problem trying to perform a marriage for a friend. You would have better luck either joining something like World Christianship Ministries, which DC does sort of recognize, or just have a civil wedding done at the courthouse. However, we discovered that a marriage license from a Virginia jurisdiction is cheaper than DC and does not have any residency requirements.

  • I had my friend marry me in DC a few weeks ago, and we did get him registered… I will see if he is available to help you guys out. We happened to have a friend who after much trouble got her friend registered in DC (also ULC). She now lives in Florida, but we mailed her the forms and she “sponsored” our officiant.

    Of course you could also go the JOP or civil ceremony route, but if you can get this through its not expensive and there is just something nice about having the person you want officially perform the ceremony.

  • Just a heads up that there is a wait in DC to be married in a civil ceremony at the courhouse, if you do that as a backup, so you might want to start on that paperwork now to get a timeslot scheduled. If I recall correctly, they don’t do weekends.

    Good luck and congrats!

  • I’m registered as an officiant with the ULC in the District, and would be happy to endorse. DC’s process is ridiculous, btw. No state has issues like this.

    If the officiant can to bring the paperwork by my office downtown I can sign. Both he & I will have to sign in front of a notary, but we’ve got one in my building (15th & L).

    POP–does my Email address come thru on the back-end? If so please pass it along to OP.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Sent it. Thanks Eric. So many good people in PoPville!

      • Terrific–for the record I just did this for a co-worker last week, and she was accepted. It’s hassly and arbitrary but not impossible. Have faith! (See, we’re not a fake religion).

  • My husband and I got married in 2008 and could not get our friend registered to do the ceremony in DC. He, too, was ULC, but the process was just too legnthy and perhaps impossible. I was told that there were also only about only 30 or so, non-denominational ministers who could ACTUALLY do a ceremony in DC.

  • We used the Washington Ethical Society, which is registered to marry people in DC but is not a religion. You may want to have them there with your friend. They are a great alternative to using a church. The officiant was very cool and helped us create a non-religious ceremony. They are headquartered on 16th Street.

  • We were able to get our friend registered to marry us, but it took months to pull together all the paperwork and a slight amount of truth-stretching. “Your regular congregation” can be three dogs and two ferrets, right?

    DC’s process here is unbelievable – nowhere else do you have to put up with this crap if you just want a friend to marry you.

  • Would love Eric’s information too for the same reason. What a timely post, Dan!

  • I am in the same predicament and am supposed to officiate a wedding. I have already registered with the ULC but need an endorser.

    POP — can you also send to me? I am in a time crunch

  • hmm, got married in DC last year using a friend who was registered by the same online “church”. I can’t recall how, but there is a way. I’ll try to remember…

  • This is very interesting. I had friends from Seattle come to DC to be married; they had a friend from Reno, NV register in DC to perform the ceremony. She is not affiliated with any kind of church, and it was my understanding that this was not necessary. They did need me, as a DC resident, to provide an affidavit attesting to her good moral character which I did. It seemed to be a pretty straight-forward process that happened without any complications – in fact the whole wedding was complication-free, which pleased me, as I was expecting my out-of-town friends to fall into some last minute DC-regulatory morass at some point and they never did. But maybe I am missing something that explains why our process was so easy while the OP and other posters have had such problems. (Or maybe we were even luckier than I realized.)

  • I am getting married on October 15 and my officiant worked for months to navigate DC’s insane and poorly defined process. Here is an excerpt from his last email on the subject:

    “Washington, D.C. informed me that my application was “incomplete” because everything has to be notarized. It was taken care of yesterday, so I hope, pray and trust that the bastion of freedom, democracy, and all that is good about this great nation will prevail! I can only say, “I am not a crook!” “

  • I’ve been trying to do this too. I want to perform LGTB marriages in DC. I signed up with them too but am trying to figure out the five more steps DC want including having some DC resident of status vouch that you are a worthy. it’s a bit disappointing.

  • Honestly, get married in MD. That’s what we did after looking at the horrible options in DC. Also, right now, it’s not clear that ULC members can perform a marriage in DC at ALL (ongoing litigation).

    We had a lovely little ceremony in Bethesda at a friend’s place and then everyone migrated over to Dino where we’d rented the upper floor. (If you’re looking to do a small wedding around 50 people, rent their upstairs. Absolutely wonderful and very reasonable.)

Comments are closed.