One-Time Civil Celebrant

Requirement and Process for ‘One-Time’ civil ceremony authorization.

Individuals wanting to perform a wedding ceremony in the Commonwealth of Virginia must receive authorization through the court, prior to performing the ceremony, pursuant to Code of Virginia §20-25.  The authorization is only valid for couples with a Virginia-issued marriage license and for a ceremony located in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Please allow 14-21 days prior to the ceremony for the authorization process.

Eligibility To Be A One-Time Marriage Celebrant Is

  1. Must be a resident of Madison County.
  2. Must be at least 18 years of age or older.
  3. Must never have been convicted of a felony.
  4. Must execute a $500 bond. (Due after the Court authorizes the petition.) The court may require the petitioner to enter a $500 bond with surety. 

The Clerk’s Office Must Receive The Following Items To Initiate The Authorization Process

  1. Notarized petition
    The petition (pdf) must be typed in order to avoid errors that may delay the authorization process. This Petition is ONLY AN EXAMPLE of a petition that has successfully been approved by the Court. The Clerk’s office is not able to provide legal advice.  If the petitioner feels that legal advice is necessary, they should seek the counsel of an attorney. The petition must be notarized or signed in front of a deputy clerk. Bring a valid photo ID with you.
  2. The petitioner must provide to the court a short letter explaining his/her background, employment, educational background, and ties to the community, explain the relationship between the petitioner and the couple, and must explain why he/she has been requested to perform this ceremony or wishes to perform this particular marriage.
  3. Filing Fee.
    The filing fee is $55 Cash, check, money order, or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, and Discover are accepted - there will be a 4% convenience fee assessed on each transaction) and is payable at the time of filing the petition. The filing fee is nonrefundable if the petition is denied by the Court.

Once the petition has been filed, it is submitted to the Judge for approval.  The celebrant is not authorized to perform the ceremony until after the court order has been signed and the bond process is complete.  Notification of approval will be sent by phone from the contact information provided on the petition to make an appointment to execute the bond.  If the court requires the petitioner to execute a bond with surety, the petitioner will be required to submit to the Clerk $500.00 in cash, money order, or cashier’s check.  The cash bond can be refunded once the marriage register has been submitted back to the court from where it was issued. (If the marriage license was obtained in another court other than Madison County Circuit Court, then a certified copy of the marriage register will need to be provided to the Madison County Circuit Court along with a written request for the bond money to be returned in order to have the bond refunded.