D.C. Judges

Kim and I are well underway with wedding planning, with the big day less than a month away.

One of the obstacles we’re running into, though, is actually finding someone to perform the ceremony. It’s a secular ceremony and we need a judge or other official with the authority to perform the ceremony in D.C. The District doesn’t have Justices of the Peace who do that sort of thing, so we’re basically on our own to find someone.

Do any of my readers know someone who fits the bill?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jay says:

    In Massachusetts, any individual may apply for and get a one-day dispensation to perform a wedding. At the Arisia SF convention one year, the fan guest of honor event was his wedding. One of my closets friends, who was also one of the founders of Arisia, performed the ceremony for that on just such a one day pass.

    Maybe there’s some option like it available?

  2. Jim says:

    John Roberts should be in DC around that time. Perhaps he’ll be available (Unless it occurs after October 3rd, of course)

  3. Beldar says:


    I’d suggest that you try these folks:

    The Marriage Bureau Branch of the Family Court issues marriage licenses and minister authorizations for marriages performed in the District of Columbia. The Bureau also maintains a list of officiants who perform civil marriages within the Court.


    When applying for a marriage license, you may request a Civil Wedding, specifying the date and time you would like to be married, at least 10 days from the date of application. You must give this information to the deputy clerk. The clerk will contact you by telephone to confirm the appointment requested.

    The marriage ceremony room holds approximately 10 to 15 guests. A court official will perform your marriage ceremony. You can receive a certified copy of your marriage license the same day for a fee of $10.00.

    There is no fee for the marriage ceremony. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the D.C. Superior Court Art Trust Fund.

    I have no personal experience in the District, but my impression is that most judges, everywhere and on almost any type of bench, enjoy doing marriages when not too inconvenient.

  4. James Joyner says:


    Thanks. I tried those folks a couple weeks ago. The thing is, though, we are doing the wedding and reception on a Saturday in a single location.

    The civil weddings are available only in the courthouse itself for, as noted above, 10-15 guests.

    The list they provide is just a bunch of clergymen, many of whom will perform a non-denominational ceremony if you ask them. We’ll do that as a last resort but would prefer a civil official of some sort.

  5. Mark says:

    Aren’t you getting msrried in Virginia?

  6. jen says:

    I don’t know if you’ve looked at the wedding websites like The Knot or Wedding Channel, but they have a search function for local vendors.

    I did a quick search on civil officiants at The Knot and got 9 links. All look to be clergy-ish, but I’m sure they will perform a civil ceremony if that is what you want.

  7. Kappiy says:

    One option might be to have a friend get ordained online from the Universal Life Church (www.ulc.org) and have them file the form with the court to become authorized to celebrate marriages ( http://www.dccourts.gov/dccourts/docs/family/marriage.pdf ).

    The form, however, requires that a current member of the ULC who is authorized by the court to perform the marriage vouch for the applicant.

    You may be able to find a person willing to vouch from the DC ULC meetup group: http://ulc.meetup.com/54/

    If you can’t find anyone authorized in DC to vouch, an applicant can still apply for authorization, but the procedures are a bit more involved ( http://www.dccourts.gov/dccourts/docs/family/register_clergy.pdf )

    The ULC allows you to instantly become a minister at their website. A couple of years ago, I became a Bishop in the church by sending them $40. I did it solely to be able to perform the wedding ceremony of a friend of mine. The wedding was in New Jersey and my qualifications were accepted by the court.

    Best of luck!

  8. Kappiy says:


    I did a quick search on the Universal Life Church forum and there is a posting from someone who claims to be ordained in DC giving this email address: ll******@ho*****.com

    This person may be able to vouch for your designee to perform the ceremony.

    Here is the posting at the ULC site: