I want to get ordained to officiate a wedding. Should I choose AMM or ULC?

In order to perform wedding ceremonies, and sign marriage certificates, many states require officiants to meet certain legal requirements. Getting ordained online is the easiest way to meet these standards, and perform weddings. But with more churches offering ordinations online than ever before, choosing where to get ordained is a challenge. 

www.amm-vs-ulc.com is here to help break down the major differences between two popular online churches, American Marriage Ministries and The Universal Life Church. Our goal is to help you understand:

  • Which online ordination has a better legal standing and government recognition.
  • Which online church shares your values.
  • In what states are AMM and ULC ordinations recognized, and which one is better?
  • Who is running the ULC and the AMM, and which organization has better transparency?

What is the Legal Standing of the Universal Life Church, and do I share it’s values?

There are two major organizations when it comes to online ordination, American Marriage Ministries (AMM) and the Universal Life Church Monastery (ULC Monastery). If you’re making a decision between American Marriage Ministries vs Universal Life Church, it helps to know the following:

  • American Marriage Ministries was established in 2009, and has ordained over 650,000 ministers worldwide. The Federal government recognizes AMM as a 501(c)3 tax exempt church
  • The Universal Life Church is a more complicated organization, with a complex legal history and hundreds of different offshoots. If you’re concerned about the credibility of ULC and want to do some background reading, we suggest checking out their wikipedia. But that might take a while.

You don’t have time for a lengthy research project. You’re just trying to decide where you want to get ordained, so that you can perform a wedding where you have been asked to officiate.

Since AMM and the ULC Monastery are the two most established options, we’ve created a side-by-side comparison to help:

Is the Universal Life Church legal in my state?

The credibility of the Universal Life Church is complicated, and judges have ruled that some weddings performed by the Universal Life Church are not valid. The original Universal Life Church was founded in the 1950s, and has been in and out of the courtroom ever since.

What is the legal standing of American Marriage Ministries?

American Marriage Ministries is an IRS 501.c.3 Certified organization, and maintains active government filings where required, providing ordinations that are recognized throughout the United States. All weddings performed by American Marriage Ministries are legal. Period. To date, not one single wedding performed by a minister ordained through American Marriage Ministries has been annulled due to the legal status of the organization. If in doubt, we recommend that you do your own research through public records, or talk to your local county clerk about which online churches they accept.

What are the fundamental values of AMM and the ULC?

You want to be sure that you get ordained with a reputable organization, one that takes the act of performing a marriage seriously, and prioritizes it.

American Marriage Ministries

American Marriage Ministries is dedicated to rites of matrimony, and that’s clear from the first page on the website. You can easily become a minister, but AMM also provides a wealth of resources and officiant training materials. That’s it. That’s because it’s all they do and providing training to wedding officiants and legal advocacy where required is a full time job! 

Universal Life Church Monastery

At the Universal Life Church Monastery, the message is less clear. The Monastery’s homepage displays a range of religious symbols, and you can even purchase a certificate proclaiming you are a Doctor of Metaphysics for $30.

But rest assured, they have your anointing oil needs covered. And if you want to become a Jedi Knight, they’ll sell you that as well for the price of $8.99. Hope George is getting the royalties on those.


Performing a wedding is the symbolic first step in a lifelong contract between two people. Make sure to choose an organization that reflects that.

Which ULC Are You Ordained With?

There is only one American Marriage Ministries. But there are many Universal Life Churches out there. Which do you even choose from?

  • The Universal Life Church continues to encourage people to start their own “Universal Life Churches”, by issuing church charters to members. If you get ordained with an organization representing itself as “Universal Life Church”, it could be an offshoot of even more questionable legitimacy.
  • There is only one American Marriage Ministries, and it is a Federally Recognized 501c3 Charitable Organization. The legal standing of the organization that issues your ordination matters, so make sure to do your research!
  • Who is behind the ULC and who is behind American Marriage Ministries? If you visit the “about us” page for American Marriage Ministries, you will find a full listing of board members and other information. The Universal Life Church offers no details about the individuals behind the organization. One again, we advise you to find out, who is running the show?

Are Universal Life Church ordinations valid in Nevada?

Nevada is arguably the state with the most complex minister registration process. In Nevada, ministers and their churches are heavily scrutinized. It’s also a major wedding destination – think Las Vegas – and you want to make sure weddings performed there stand up to legal scrutiny.

  • American Marriage Ministries has worked with the Clark County Clerk’s Office for years, and AMM ministers perform marriages in Las Vegas every day.
  • The Universal Life Church does not appear on Clark County’s list of recognized churches.

So, when it’s time for you to decide whether to choose “American Marriage Ministries vs Universal Life Church” you should have some information to help inform your decision. We encourage you go look into American Marriage Ministries legal standing. Before you get ordained, look up Universal Life Church’s decades of court cases and other allegations of misconduct. That way, you can choose to get ordained online with an organization that truly reflects your values and beliefs, and that can ensure that you perform a legal wedding ceremony.

Who is running this website, and what’s your stake in this debate?

This website is run by ministers that are affiliated with American Marriage Ministries. It is important to us that the couples we join in marriage are confident that their weddings are legal and valid. With hundreds of thousands of happily married couples, and not one single annulment due to minister’s accreditation, we consider it our duty to stand up to these cheap attacks and to fight for the couples and communities that we serve.

If you are wondering whether to get ordained online with another church, make sure to do your research. Check out the links to the court cases above, and do your own research before you click “get ordained” with anyone else!