My sister is planning a wedding. She has asked me to perform the ceremony. We are all Lutherans. The wedding will be outdoors. My question is this: What sort of trouble will I be in with the church if I officiate this marriage? I don't know what the church's (ELCA) stand is on non-ordained people performing such events......any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Thank you for your question.

I would imagine that you will be fine with the ELCA as you officiate at your sister's wedding.  I am not aware of any set policy that would forbid a layperson performing a wedding.  Weddings are actually affairs of the State in which you live and their rules, laws, and regulations maintain who can and cannot perform the ceremony.  In my state of Alaska, anyone can register to perform one wedding and it happens quite a lot.

From the church's perspective, I think we would be interested that the wedding be done "in good order" (a classic Lutheran phrase) and with respect to solemnity of the vows as well as celebration of the occasion. Since it is not being done in an ELCA congregation's building, I think you will be fine.  

Congratulations and I hope all goes well.

I hope that this has been helpful,

Martin Eldred


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Martin W. Eldred


I have been a Lutheran Christian for 56 years and a Lutheran pastor for almost 28. I can answer most general questions about Luther, Lutheran History, Lutheran Theology, and a Lutheran approach to Biblical Interpretation. I am ELCA, for those who know what that means, and I tend to be moderate theologically. I hope that I can converse with those that are either more conservative or liberal than I, and especially with those who are really just seeking.


Pastors are "generalists" and generally have a working knowledge on many subjects. We are also used to working with a variety of answers from a variety of people. I teach a great deal, especially in the area of the New Testament. I particularly enjoy the Pauline literature. I have a PhD in New Testament and my dissertation was on II Corinthians.

I have been a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, an international gathering of biblical scholars and teachers, since the late 1980s.

I have written a few book reviews for the journal, "Lutheran Quarterly."

I have a B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University in Religion (Biblical Studies)and a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary. I also have PhD in New Testament.

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