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Does Missouri recognize online ordained ministers?

Whenever someone plans to get married, one of the most important things they consider is who can officiate their wedding. Traditionally, a religious leader, judge or a registered official performs the ceremony. Today, with the increasing popularity of online ordination, many are turning to online ordained ministers to perform their weddings. However, the big question is whether Missouri recognizes online ordained ministers or not. In this blog, we explore the laws and practices surrounding online ordination in Missouri.

What is an Online Ordained Minister?

An online ordained minister is someone who has been certified as a religious leader through an online ordination ceremony. It is a relatively new concept that has gained popularity in recent years as online churches and religious organizations have emerged. These organizations offer online ordination to anyone who wants to join their church or simply become an ordained minister.

Missouri Marriage Laws and Officiant Qualifications

Under Missouri law, marriage can be solemnized by a judge, a religious leader, or any other person who is authorized by Missouri law to perform the ceremony. There are no specific qualifications mentioned to become an officiant, but there are restrictions on who can perform the ceremony.

In Missouri, a religious leader must be authorized by the state to perform a wedding ceremony. If the religious leader is ordained outside of Missouri, they need to present proof of their ordination to the recorder of deeds in the county where the marriage license is sought. Also, an officiant must be at least 18 years old and a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

What Does Missouri Recognize as Valid Ordination?

Missouri law recognizes ordination through authentic religious or faith-based organizations. These organizations are typically established religious institutions, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples. Such organizations offer traditional in-person ordination programs.

Missouri recognizes online ordination only if it is issued by a religious body that is in consistency with Missouri law. Technically, there is no state requirement that an ordained minister must undergo a physical in-person training or attend a brick-and-mortar theological institution.

However, there have been instances where courts in Missouri have ruled against online ordination in certain cases. There are no specific regulations or statutes governing online ordination, so the decision ultimately lies with the local county clerk.

Issues with Online Ordination

The primary issue with online ordination is the perceived lack of legitimacy compared to traditional ordination. Critics of online ordination argue that it is too easy for anyone to become ordained and that there is no standard level of education or training required to become an online ordained minister.

There have also been instances where online ordination was used as a way to commit fraudulent activities. For example, some people have used their online minister credentials to evade taxes or to perform fake marriages.

How to Verify Your Online Ordained Minister is Recognized in Missouri

If you are planning to get married by an online ordained minister in Missouri, it is essential to check whether their ordination is recognized by the state. Here are some steps you can take to verify their ordination:

1. Check with the County Clerk’s Office: It’s best to check with the county clerk’s office where the wedding is taking place to see if they will accept the online ordained minister’s credentials.

2. Check the Ordination Certificate: Examine the online ordained minister’s ordination certificate to see if the name of the religious organization is genuine and recognized in Missouri.

3. Contact the Religious Organization: If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the organization, contact them directly to inquire if their ministers’ online ordinations are recognized in Missouri.


While Missouri doesn’t have specific regulations for online ordained ministers, it is important to ensure that your online ordained minister’s credentials are recognized by the state. The best way to confirm this is to contact the county clerk’s office where the wedding will take place, as they have the final say in whether an online ordained minister can perform a ceremony.

Ultimately, it is up to the couple to research their officiant and make an informed decision that aligns with their beliefs and values. With the increasing popularity of online ordination, it’s important to keep in mind the legal and moral implications of your choice of officiant.


Are online ordained ministers legal in Missouri?

Yes, online ordained ministers are completely legal in Missouri. In fact, the State of Missouri has no specific requirements for who can get ordained and perform weddings, which means anyone can become a wedding officiant regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. The only requirement is that the officiant is ordained or licensed by a religious organization or government authority, which includes online ordination.

The legality of online ordination has been challenged in some states, but in 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder that any bona fide religious organization could ordain its members for religious purposes. Since then, courts have consistently upheld the right of online ordination for wedding officiants.

To get ordained online in Missouri, there are several online religious organizations that offer ordination for free or for a small fee. These organizations include the Universal Life Church, the American Marriage Ministries, and the Open Ministry, among others. Once ordained, you will need to register with the county where the wedding will take place to ensure that your ordination is recognized in that particular jurisdiction.

It is important to note that while online ordination is legal, there are still some limitations. For example, some counties in Missouri require that the officiant be a resident of the county, regardless of their ordination status. Additionally, some religious organizations may have their own requirements for ordination that go beyond what is required by the state.

Online ordained ministers are legal in Missouri, and anyone can become a wedding officiant by getting ordained through an online religious organization. While there are limitations and local requirements to be aware of, becoming an online ordained minister is a viable and legal way to perform weddings in Missouri.

Who can legally officiate a wedding in Missouri?

According to Missouri state law, there are two categories of individuals who are authorized to legally officiate weddings. The first is any ordained or licensed clergy member who is in good standing with any church or synagogue in the state, whether they are currently active or retired. This means that whether it’s a minister, priest, rabbi, or other religious leader, as long as they are in good standing with their religious organization, they are authorized by the state to solemnize a marriage.

The second category includes judges. This includes not only circuit judges and associate circuit judges, but also municipal judges. This means that if you have a relationship with a judge, whether it’s through work, friendship, or otherwise, they may be able to legally officiate your wedding without charge.

It’s important to note that under Missouri law, any person who solemnizes a marriage without the authority to do so is guilty of a misdemeanor. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that whoever you select to officiate your wedding is properly authorized by the state to do so.

While the options for who can officiate a wedding in Missouri are somewhat limited, they do provide some flexibility for couples looking to create a meaningful and personalized ceremony that reflects their beliefs and values. Regardless of who officiates your wedding, however, the most important thing is that they help you create a ceremony that is meaningful and memorable for you and your partner.

Do you need a license to marry someone in Missouri?

Yes, you will need a license to marry someone in Missouri. The first step is to apply for a marriage license. This can be done online, but you will still need to visit the county office in person to receive the license. The license is valid for only 30 days after its issuance, so make sure you time your application accordingly.

When applying for the license, both parties must be present and provide identification, such as a birth certificate or passport. You will also need to fill out the application and pay any necessary fees. After the license is issued, you can contact an officiant to perform the wedding ceremony.

The state of Missouri does not have any specific requirements for who can officiate a wedding ceremony. However, the officiant must be authorized to perform weddings in the state of Missouri. This can include judges, clergy, and other individuals who are authorized to perform weddings.

It is important to note that there are restrictions on who can get married in Missouri. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, or 15-17 years old with parental consent. Additionally, Missouri has restrictions on marriages between close relatives and same-sex couples.

While getting married in Missouri requires a license, the process is relatively simple. Make sure to apply for the license in advance, and ensure that any officiant you choose is authorized to perform weddings in the state.