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West Virginia

Legal requirements for the State of West Virginia and what to expect once you book an officiant.

West Virginia Flag.jpeg

The purpose of this page is to provide information on the legal requirements for West Virginia, information that you will need to be prepared to provide us, and information on what to expect when you choose Appalachian Life Rituals for your wedding. You may already be aware of some or all this information, however, it is our mission to be as transparent as possible. We know the information contained herein is quite lengthy, but please read it carefully and in its entirety.

The officiant that you choose must meet certain legal requirements. Those requirements are as follows: the wedding officiant (or marriage celebrant) must be 18 or over. They are not required to be a resident of West Virginia. They are required to provide proof of their ordination to the West Virginia Secretary of State Office for registration. No ID is issued; however, a license number is issued. Should you choose us for your wedding, the officiant will be David L Shaffer. David meets all the legal requirements for West Virginia to officiate weddings. You can search for David’s license to verify at the West Virginia Secretary of State - Enterprise Registration & Licensing System ( His License number is F211217009434.

Your wedding cannot be conducted by video chat. The minister and couple must be present at the ceremony; however, witnesses are not required. A couple’s verbal consent is required as part of the ceremony (the “I do” portion), as is the minister’s verbal pronouncement of that consent. The rest of the ceremony is up to the couple.

The State of West Virginia requires that couples both apply for and pick up marriage licenses in person from a state county clerk's office of their choice. The fee as of 2/32023 is $54.00. The clerk will verify the relevant information, requiring that either a birth certificate or driver’s license be presented as proof of identity and age. West Virginia does not require a grace period between the time the marriage license is granted, and the ceremony is performed, unless either party is under 18 years of age. If either partner is under 18, please advise us of this upfront. Weddings are not required to be held in the county where the marriage license was obtained. Couples have 60 days to have the ceremony once the license is issued. West Virginia does not require either member of the couple to reside in the state or country and currently recognizes marriage equality.

After you have booked our service, we begin the process of writing a ceremony specifically for you. We do not use pre-written form ceremonies except for elopements. Every effort is taken to make sure the ceremony reflects the couple and their wishes. If possible, we want to schedule a time with the couple and the officiant for a Zoom meeting. Or, if you prefer, an in-person meeting when location and schedules permit. Please plan on about thirty minutes. This will be an opportunity for us to visibly meet each other, converse, and ask questions. At any point up until the ceremony, please feel free to schedule another Zoom meeting if you require it. I am also available via WeddingWire, our website (, direct email (, or phone at (304) 997-5810.

Individual packages have a certain number of miles included. An additional travel fee of $1.39 per mile is assessed outside the included mileage. Once you book your wedding, a bill for the wedding will be sent. It can be paid by check up to 14 days prior to the ceremony, credit card / PayPal up to three days prior to the ceremony, alternatively you can pay with cash the day of the ceremony and a temporary receipt will be provided followed by an updated copy of your invoice showing the payment. A deposit is usually required to hold the date of your wedding. Any invoices we send out have a due date as the date of your wedding, but deposits should be paid as soon as possible to make sure that reservation is held for you. Also, you will receive an email containing this information along with more specific information pertaining to your specific circumstances. For example, we need the names of both partners, their ages, addresses, contact information, venue, etc. That email will also include any pending financial information. This includes the package purchased, deposits made, and the balance remaining.


On the day of the ceremony, David will arrive 5 – 30 minutes prior to the event depending on the venue and type of wedding. At that time, please have the marriage license ready for his review and discuss any last-minute changes that he may need to know. If your package includes a rehearsal, the license will be reviewed at that time. The couple’s signature is not needed at this time, as the couple would have signed all the required paperwork at the time the license was issued. We also offer Notary services in the event you have a name change or other legal document because of the wedding.

After the ceremony, the officiant is required to make a copy of the signed Marriage License and keep a permanent record of every marriage performed. David is ordained through Universal Life Church Ministries and his official title on the Marriage License will be Minister even if the ceremony itself has no religious components. His home address will also appear on the license, and he will have six business days from the time of the ceremony to return the license to the issuing authority. We mail all completed marriage licenses via USPS Priority Mail. We insure the package for $60.00 to cover any additional fees you may incur if the license becomes lost in the mail. We will provide a digital copy of the marriage license and the mailing label so that you can track delivery.

County clerks statewide are transitioning from the way registered marriage certificates are handled. Some counties are still automatically sending a certified copy to the couple within 14 business days of receiving the completed license from the officiant. Most counties, and eventually all counties, will require the couple to return to the clerk’s office for their copy of the completed and registered marriage license after paying a $5 fee. Please consult with the clerk’s office in the county you obtain the license for their policy. To locate the county clerk in your county, you can use the resource located at

After the ceremony, it would be appreciated if you leave feedback at and let us know how we did. Your comments may be used on our website for testimonials and your submission, through whatever medium, provides your permission to do so. We also humbly request that if the photographer or the couple could provide a picture or pictures of the event, including any photos of the officiant with the couple it would be greatly appreciated. These pictures may be used on our website, or any of our listing sites such as, at our discretion.

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