Have you ever seen a sit-com show or Hollywood film that has a random goofy character officiate a wedding? They usually come through right at the end of the movie and tell the other characters that they have the power to legally marry. Although this is convenient for cookie-cutter Hollywood scripts, what are the true legal qualifications to perform a marriage?
Each state has their specific type of rules and regulations on who can marry someone, hence the saying “with the power invested in me by the state of Michigan.” In Michigan, there are basic qualifications to perform a marriage but nobody can do it off the street. In a few states, like Florida, someone who has become a notary public can legally perform a marriage, but not so in Michigan.
In order for someone to perform a legal marriage between a man and a woman in the state of Michigan the person must be “an ordained minister, magistrate (a civil officer with power to administer and enforce law — Justice of the Peace), mayor of a Michigan city or a judge.”
Most people use an ordained minister to perform the ceremony. This means they must legally hold a position as some form of ministry member or be officially recognized by a church to officiate a wedding. The church doesn’t have to be filed with the State of Michigan as a charter for the marriage to be legal.
The other qualified persons to officiate a marriage are magistrates, judges, or a mayor of a Michigan city. While a majority of weddings are commenced by ministers, having a government official is also an efficient option to perform a marriage.
If someone wants to become an ordained minister to officiate a wedding, there are multiple ways to do it. One, actually become an official pastor or minister on staff at a church in Michigan or two, search for churches online that have applications available for becoming a recognized officiate. Either by the long traditional way or the fast and sketchy technological way, becoming an ordained minister is possible for practically anyone.
Of course, just because you know the official law of who can officiate doesn’t mean it’s easy to pick someone to do it. That’s for the bride and groom to figure out.