Officiating a wedding for close friends is a special honor, but it can also be a fun weekend side hustle.
After all, there are 2.5 million weddings in the US every year, with an average cost of $28,000! That spells a great opportunity to help families celebrate love and make some money at the same time.
In this guide, we’ll look at what wedding officiants do, the legal requirements to become one, and the potential income. We’ll also look how to market your wedding officiant business and get customers.
What a Wedding Officiant Does
A wedding officiant is an individual who performs a legal marriage ceremony.
This is the person who guides the couple through their vows, the exchange of rings, and asks for those all-important “I do’s.”
But there’s a little more to it than simply standing in front of the crowd and knowing when to say “you may kiss the bride.”
You’ll also be in charge of completing the marriage license with the couple and witness(es), which is a legally binding document.
The Requirements to Become a Wedding Officiant
Before you start earning the big bucks, you need to tick a few boxes. There are some strict requirements to become a wedding officiant. It is very important that you follow these requirements by the book to ensure that you are working legally.
Take a look at the step-by-step process to become a wedding officiant below.
1. Familiarize Yourself With The Process
The process of becoming a wedding officiant will differ from state to state. Depending on your state, you may need to register with the local government before you can perform the marriage. In other areas, becoming ordained will be enough.
Additionally, to get ordained, you will need to provide some personal information. As such, it is very important that you spend time figuring out the process in your state to ensure that you have everything you need to hand.
To learn more about the processes in each state, take a look here. We recommend researching the necessary processes at least 9 months before you plan on performing your first wedding ceremony.
2. Get Ordained
The next step in becoming a wedding officiant is usually to get ordained. Thankfully, this is something you can do online quickly and affordably — without needing to undertake a degree in theology or joining the ministry.
A couple options include American Marriage Ministries and Universal Life Church. Most states recognize these online ordinations for wedding ceremonies.
At ULC, getting ordained is free and instant — just complete the request form on their website:
If you eventually want to diversify into different religions, it might make sense to check the different requirements.
Starting a wedding officiant business is highly localized. Each state (and sometimes even individual counties and cities) have their own requirements as to who is qualified to perform wedding ceremonies.
3. Register Your Business (If Necessary)
In some states, you may need to register with the state to be able to officiate marriages.
Some states don’t require an officiant at all — though most weddings will still have one.
GetOrdained.org has a handy clickable map that lets you explore the specific requirements for your state:
In most cases, you don’t need to be active in your church or lead a congregation — especially for non-religious ceremonies.
As previously mentioned, it may be the case that you have to register with your local government after becoming ordained. According to the American Weddings Blog, these are currently the states that require registration in addition to ordination:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Puerto Rico
- West Virginia
The registration process does differ from state to state. However, it is generally the case that you will need to fill out a registration form, prove that you are an ordained minister, and pay a fee.
Tips From Someone Who’s Officiated 4000 Weddings
I sat down with Maria Romano, the founder of True Love Knots, to learn more about the wedding officiant business. Over the last decade, Maria has officiated over 4000 weddings!
In this quick interview, she shares how much you can charge, how to get your first customers, and more.
Maria also teaches a course on how to start your wedding officiant business. She put together a special discount for Side Hustle Nation readers who use the promo code “sidehustlenationcoupon” when they join.
How Much Do Wedding Officiants Make?
Wedding officiants charge anywhere from $100 to $800 to perform your wedding. Considering how long the ceremony portion of the wedding usually lasts, it’s a great hourly rate!
On the lower end of that spectrum are Notary publics reading from a county-required script and making sure you sign the paperwork correctly. Or Vegas-chapel officiants who are doing a dozen ceremonies a day.
On the higher end, you’ll find religious leaders who often make time to meet with the couple beforehand and help guide them through the process.
With a higher fee comes higher expectations. Some professional wedding officiants offer a wedding rehearsal or premarital counseling as part of the service.
For an even higher fee, you can work with the couple to create a completely customized wedding ceremony.
As you gain experience officiating weddings, you can increase your rates.
Since the business is seasonal and mostly confined to weekends, it would be difficult to turn officiating into a full-time business in most areas of the country. Still, the opportunity to make a few hundred dollars part-time on the weekend makes it a great side hustle.
Who Is Best Equipped To Become A Wedding Officiant?
Successful wedding officiants:
- Are comfortable with public speaking
- Can quickly build rapport with couples and make it seem like they’ve known them a long time
- Take the responsibility seriously, but have fun with it
- Love weddings!
It also helps if you live near popular wedding venues, and have free time on Saturdays (when most weddings take place).
How to Get Clients for Your Wedding Officiant Business
Maria had several suggestions on how to market yourself as a wedding officiant.
Network with Other Wedding Vendors
First, she recommended networking with other wedding vendors, like:
These are the people your target customers — brides and grooms — are already doing business with. It makes sense to be on a first-name basis with them so they can recommend you to their clients, and you can do the same for them.
Connect with Wedding Venues
Next, Maria suggested reaching out to nearby wedding venues. If they’ve been doing weddings for a while, they probably have a “preferred vendor list.”
Your job is to work your way onto the list by being polite and persistent. Maybe you can work your way in by filling in when the “regulars” are off sick or on vacation. Or let them know you’re available on off-peak days or times, or for non-traditional ceremonies.
Local Wedding and Bridal Fairs
Finally, you might consider attending a wedding fair. Some of these smaller venue-specific fairs can be quite affordable to display at, and gets you in front of lots of brides and grooms at once.
Create Your Wedding Officiant Website
Set up your own website describing your services and style. Include pictures and videos of you in action, along with your pricing packages.
If you’ve never done a paid wedding gig before, Maria suggested using photos and video from a friend’s wedding you officiated — or staging a mock wedding in your backyard or at a park.
On the site, you can invite couples to book an introductory call with you, or book directly on your calendar.
Make sure to add your site to Google My Business to begin showing up in the local search results.
Join Wedding Officiant Directories
There are also online directories, such as The Officiant Directory, that allow engaged couples to find their experienced and professional wedding officiant.
Other websites, like WeddingWire, use online reviews to showcase wedding officiants. To bolster your profile, make sure to ask your couples to post their review of your service.
Social media is also a good place to demonstrate your skills as a wedding officiant, especially if you can get some official photos or videos from the ceremony itself.
If you’ve networked with the photographer and other vendors at the event, make sure they tag you in any pictures they post.
Alternatives to Becoming a Wedding Officiant
If you’re looking for a weekend side hustle, becoming a wedding officiant is just one of the options. Here are some other side hustle ideas to consider.
Flea Market Flipping
Could you use your weekend hours to find some secondhand treasures? Side Hustle Show guest Stacy Gallego broke down how she was earning thousands of dollars a month flipping products like motorcycle sidecars, skateboards, and even Sleep Number Beds.
It’s a super-inspiring interview and showcases how there really is profit to be found just about everywhere.
Another popular side hustle in the spring and summer months is pressure washing. The equipment doesn’t cost much to start, and you’ll find there’s a viral effect in this business.
By that, I mean one customer can turn into several when the neighbors see how good the house and driveway look that you just finished. A full house and driveway job could be worth $250-400 and take just a few hours to complete.
What happens when someone orders a bed-in-a-box mattress and they don’t like it? Many mattress brands turn to “reverse logistics” provider Sharetown to pick it up.
Where the side hustle part comes in is with you as a local Sharetown rep. With several brands, you coordinate the pickup, clean the almost-brand-new item, and then list it for resale. You profit on the spread between your resale price and the predetermined amount you owe Sharetown for it once it sells.
I sat down with Staci Aburto, a Sharetown rep who reported making $3,000-$4,000 a month doing this part time, targeting $250 a flip.
Conclusion: A Well-Paying Seasonal Side Hustle
Becoming a wedding officiant can be a fun, seasonal side hustle. If you can earn $300 for an hour’s worth of work, and help a couple celebrate their love at the same time, I’d call that a win!
But before you get started, make sure to do your research and check with your local laws and regulations. Practice for free with friends, market yourself in the local community, and keep leveling up your wedding officiant business.
If you want to learn more and get some professional officiant training, check out the True Love Knots course w/ promo code sidehustlenationcoupon for a special discount.