Who Can Officiate At Weddings

Officiation, whether through a rabbi or an Elvis impersonator, is the final step in creating your wedding. By this point, you have already selected your witnesses, found a ceremony location picked music for prelude, processional, the signing of the ketubah, and recessional.

priest holding bible

This leaves one major detail left to resolve: who should carry out the wedding? Traditionally speaking, each religion has its own rules regarding who may officiate weddings. If you want to know more, click on what does it mean to officiate a wedding

The following table details who can officiate at weddings according to various traditions:

Who can officiate?

  1. Jewish – Orthodox Rabbis only
  2. Conservative – Rabbis ordained by The Academy of Judaic Studies or The Reform Hebrew Union College
  3. Reform – Any rabbi in good standing with the Jewish community
  4. Christian – Episcopal priests and other Protestant clergy have to be ordained by a bishop to officiate at weddings, but many churches allow non-ordained ministers to do so as well.
  5. Islamic – The Imam must be officially registered in a specific state registry. 


In the US, these are often handled at the county level, which can create issues when you’re asked for your marriage license from your local DMV–depending on where you live, they might not even ask for one since it’s not required that an Imam officiate a wedding.

More liberal mosques may also let any male Muslim who is knowledgeable of religious mandates carry out marriages if necessary. If there are multiple Imams present, they all must agree that the couple is legally married before they can do so.


  1. Mormon – Any male member of the church in good standing may officiate weddings.

The level of involvement for each officiant varies as well, though it’s important to note that whichever person you are dealing with isn’t necessarily what determines how involved they are.

The following table details which aspects of a wedding an officiant might be expected to deal with:

Person/Couple Involvement

  1. Rabbi 

Co-officiates with the couple; pre-wedding counselling session required; signs ketubah; conducts the ceremony

  1. Judge 

Performs civil ceremony only (optional); licenses the marriage afterwards

  1. Minister 

Shares equal responsibility regarding co-officiation and conducting the ceremony; may conduct a pre-wedding counselling session

  1. Justice of the Peace 

Can only perform a civil wedding but does so with the full legal authority of an official state office.

  1. Elvis Presley 

Shares equal responsibility regarding co-officiation and conducting the ceremony. In most cases, he will also sing during the recessional, though that is not a strict requirement.

If you want to have Elvis preside over your wedding, you’ll have to plan several months since his schedule tends to be incredibly busy.

If you can book him for your date, congratulations! He’s a great person and a joy to work with–but if you’re having him officiate at a regular old wedding like everyone else, you may be in for some trouble.

Elvis’s schedule is incredibly busy. If you’re having him officiate at a regular old wedding like everyone else, you may be in for some trouble.

Elvis hasn’t traditionally had the most traditional of jobs, but he still has to do his job just like everyone else does.

This means that if you want Elvis Presley to officiate your wedding, it’s probably best to book him well in advance or risk not being able to get an appointment with him at all–after all,

he only gets one day off every year and there are hundreds of women across America waiting eagerly for their chance to marry The King.

Because of this high demand for his time, you may be asked to pay for Elvis’s time–though the amount required isn’t likely to make you think twice about it.

And if you do manage to book him, congratulations! You’ll get an amazing wedding ceremony and a wonderful experience with one of the kindest people in show business.

After your wedding, Elvis will remain on-site (if he can) for pictures, mingling with guests, etc., but don’t try asking him to do another song or two; he needs to fly back home that night so there simply won’t be enough time for anything else.

If you want photos with The King he’ll pose happily, but no promises as to the quality of your pictures–Elvis is retired now, after all, so his eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Make sure you get the correct kind of film if you want any hope of your photos turning out.