You can do it, and as a civil process too, not a religious one! Even a fake religion!
It’s not that hard and doesn’t involve religious-ordination online! In fact, I recommend doing it this way in the City of Richmond and not bothering proving that you’re a minister of the First Atheist Church (in North Carolina, however, they make you jump through no hoops if you’re an atheist minister, and you can just sign marriage licenses all day long).
But the process seems confusing, as the city’s website (sorry, City) gives you its classic runaround. And calling…hoo, boy!…you will be passed around more times than a marijuana cigarette on that big Grateful Dead rock in the middle of the river.
Here’s what you really needs to do in order to become a one-time civil celebrant for people who should already have their marriage license at this point.
- Write a letter stating that you are petitioning to be approved as a one-time civil celebrant…
- For Person X and Person Y (full legal names)
- On Z date…
- For this reason (try “They don’t want to be married inside the church, and they love me and I’m good at it.”), and this is my relationship to them (try “Friend of family”).
- Include your address and phone number. You will need to reside within city limits for this to be possible.
- Include a check for $56.
- Send to:
Civil Section of the Circuit Court
John Marshall Courts Building
400 N. 9th Street
Richmond VA 23219
- Wait for follow-up call. This may or may not actually happen. I recommend calling as soon as that check is deposited. Call (804) 646-6505 and say you are following up on your petition to become a one-time civil celebrant. That terminology is important, otherwise confusion will reign, for some reason. Once they tell you that the judge has signed off, you just go to Room 102 of the John Marshall Courts Building and sign a bond that says you will only use your power for good (otherwise they’ll charge you $500–still not clear on how you can use it for bad), and skedaddle.
- Perform marriage ceremony, which really only MUST include a “declaration of intent,” in that someone has to promise something eternal to someone else, and vice versa.
- Sign their marriage license and mail or deliver it back to the Circuit Court clerk.
Fairly easy! Writing a tear-inducing wedding ceremony? That part is all you.