Dear PoPville – I’m Getting Married, Anyone a ULC Officiant?

Photo by PoPville flickr user sciascia

Dear PoPville,

My fiance and I are getting married next year at Brewmaster’s Castle/Heurich House in Dupont and we would like to have our dear friend officiate for us, as neither of us is religious. After reading the laws and many other sources on how to do this in DC, it appears quite complex. Our officiant was planning on getting “ordained” by ULC but as you probably are aware, DC also requires someone to endorse our officiant –another minister from ULC who is already registered as an officiant in the District.

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials! A reader helped out last year but unfortunately became overwhelmed with requests. Anyone else a ULC officiant who can sign an endorsement?

18 Comment

  • clevelanddave

    Just have someone who knows you and who you respect do it, then get married officially at the courthouse later (or earlier). That way it is legal and fun and easy! That’s my opinion…

  • You can apply to have your officiant approved by DC. It takes a little paperwork, and some luck getting a sitting judge who will approve the application, but we did it. Call the marriage bureau for the details.

    • I should have mentioned, you can do this in lieu of getting the endorsement of a local ULC officiant. Just beware that it’s up to the judge’s discretion, and the first judge we drew apparently doesn’t like the ULC and denied our application. So we just resubmitted it the next week (they change judges every week) and it went through just fine.

  • My friend was ordained by ULC in order to marry us. I believe that she contacted ULC directly and they forwarded the information necessary for her approval. The ULC was very helpful and, as far as I know, I am now legally married…

  • You can go through the Judge on duty at the DC court (which is what I did) with little problem. The DC office was very helpful to me when I was going through the process last year. If I remember correctly, you basically need an affidavit from someone you know and trust to vouch for you. If you don’t have anyone, contact the website and I’d be happy to endorse you

  • Anyone can become an ordained ULC minister for free. ULC is the University of Phoenix of Christian denominations.

    But if you’re truly not religious, why would you want to be married in a religious ceremony, by an ordained minister? Just go before a judge and throw one hell of a reception/party for your friends afterwards!

    • Lots of reasons, for example you want your bff/sister/aunt/cousin to marry you; you want to have a wedding at a beautiful and/or remote location. My friend who is a kick ass ULC officiant never brings religion into the ceremony, unless requested by the couple of course.

  • If you want to trod further off the beaten path, DC is one of the 10 remaining states that recognize common-law marriages. It dates to 1931 and was most recently affirmed by Dickey vs. OPM in 2005. It requires this: “The elements of common-law marriage in the District of Columbia are an express mutual agreement, which must be in words of the present tense, followed by cohabitation as husband and wife.” and “both spouses must intend and expressly covenant to enter into a permanent relationship of husband and wife.”. Note that simply living together, even for an extended period, is insufficient.

    If you really want to do this, you would also need to register with SSA so that you get survivor benefits. I believe this includes providing statements to SSA from two blood relatives and other supporting evidence. In addition, I would suggest getting a notarized affidavit affirming that you “intend and expressly covenant to enter into a permanent relationship of husband and wife.”

    Such a common-law marriage is fully binding, legally, including requiring a divorce if it ever came to that …

    And yes, my wife and I did this. It was right for us in many ways. You could, of course, simply pay the $40 or whatever at the courthouse. IIRC it takes a while too, so plan ahead.

    Background info:

  • Interesting questions. What BS that you have to jump through these hoops – or am I missing something? Is there a good reason to legally require only a set number of people to “officiate” a wedding?

    “Under Alaska Statute 25.05.261(a)(2) 1, anyone can perform your marriage ceremony, including a friend or relative, if they first obtain a marriage commissioner appointment from an Alaskan court as authorized by AS The person should be 18 years of age or older, and does not need to be a resident of Alaska or the United States in order to perform the ceremony.”

  • If you happen to change locations to Maryland, you just need the ULC ordained officiant.

  • We had a similar issue, and just decided to get married in VA -no blood test, no questions asked-the day before and have the ceremony we wanted with our un-officiated best friend acting the part.

  • I have applied twice now to become an officiant, in order to officiate the wedding of 2 friends of mine (the wedding was last weekend). The first time I didn’t have an endorser so I applied using the alternative method available on the marriage bureau website. I was denied and the judge ordered the I reapply with an endorser. I reached out to the ULC who got me an endorser. Upon reapplying, I was also denied. The judge cited another judge’s denial from earlier this year. Upon looking further into it, that judge wrote a 2 page letter denying that person based off information from Wikipedia and claimed the church wasn’t religious enough. Clearly, this is not ok. Who was these judges to claim what is religious enough. This law needs to be changed in DC.

  • Check out the American humanist association…. They also have and certify non- religious officiants.

  • No idea if it would help, but seek out Reverend Jim through Bryan Weaver! Perhaps he can work miracles and bring you blessings.

  • The Washington Ethical Society

    The Washington Ethical Society are legally allowed to perform marriages in DC. They were very helpful and put together a nice ceremony with us. If you are not religious, they are great.

  • i thought the laws on this were pretty simple – my friend is registered as an officiant with the univeral life church monestery in maryland, but we wanted her to marry us in DC. we found a list of all the documentation she had to submit on the marriage bureau website, submitted it, and the paperwork went through fine, and surprisingly quickly. granted, i have no idea what the process was for her getting registered in MD.

  • The hoops to becoming a Marriage Officiant in DC can be many or few depending on the judge, the religious affiliation, and the time of day you go to the courthouse!

    I’ve been certified here in DC and Maryland for about three years now and conduct three or so weddings a month. They range from just the couple and me to full fledged weddings with bridal/groom parties, silver chaffing dishes, and lots of champagne.

    The ULC is iffy for getting certified. You may want to suggest something like the a secular humanism society. I’d be happy to endorse or work with you to have your friend do the ceremony and sign the paperwork for you.

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