Serving as a wedding officant
by Martin Ugander
October 11, 2010

During the summer of 2010, two close friends of mine asked me to marry them. Not only did they ask that I perform the ceremonial aspects of wedding them in front of their friends and family, but they also asked that I formally get authorized by the District of Columbia to legally wed them.

I was humbled by the request, and glad to be of service.

Here is an example of a manuscript for a wedding ceremony which I compiled for that wedding. In dialogue with the wedding couple, and in accordance with my beliefs, the word choices which I used throughout the ceremony were chosen so that there would be no particular religious references, rather, a focus was put on the idea that the wedding was performed in the presence and witness of friends and family. Furthermore, a gender wording was chosen with a focus on gender equality within the relationship.

For those of you who may be curious about the process of registering to legally perform weddings in the District of Columbia (Washington, DC), the process is outlined on the website of the DC Marriage Bureau, see particularly the information regarding "Application for Authorization to Celebrate Marriages".

In short, DC requires that wedding officants be affiliated with some kind of faith-based organisation. However, they acknowledge the Universal Life Church as an approved such organisation. The ULC has as it's only and central tenet to "Do the right thing", and accepts and acknowledges all religions and lack of religions. One might suspect that the ULC was created for the purpose of fulfilling the legal criteria of many States with regards to affiliation with a faith-based organisation which is a registered organisation with by-laws, etc. I registered with the ULC as "minister". This is free of charge and requires only that one fill in one's name and e-mail address. They charge a small fee to send an original paper official certificate, and a letter of good standing, which are both required by the Distric of Columbia. Also, they have a copy of their by-laws available on their website, a copy of which is also required by the District of Columbia.

Furthermore, I filled out the necessary forms, and submitted the required, notarized, affadavits. One affadavit was required by me, detailing the purpose, scope and duration of my ministry. In my affadavit I simply and honestly stated the required information regarding my spiritual practice. For example, I stated that my application was for the purpose of marrying my friends at their request, and that I had been discussing spiritual matters with my friends and acquaintances since I was approximately 18 years old, but that I had only registered as a minister of the ULC online recently. Also, an affadavit from a citizen of DC was submitted by the groom, stating that he knew me in my capacity as a spiritual leader and that I was in good moral standing.

All this paperwork was notarized, and submitted in person to the DC Superior Court, including a $35 cash fee, and three days later my certificate of authorization arrived in the mail.

In order for the bride and groom to officially be married by me, they had to both appear in person in the court to apply for a marriage license. At that time they also filled in and signed a form including supplying my name as the intended wedding officiant. Some days later their official application for a wedding license, with their and my name pre-printed on it, was ready to be picked up at the Court. At the time of the wedding ceremony, I then signed this document, which in turn was mailed to the Court, and the Court then returned the wedding license to the newly married couple.

That is the story about becoming authorized to perform weddings in the District of Columbia.
October 11, 2010