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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 8, 2019 12:00 PM
From: Representative Maureen E. Madden and Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell
To: All House members
Subject: Modernizing Marriage Officiants Law
Pennsylvania boasts one of the most profitable wedding industries in the country, but I believe we are not reaching our full potential. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 73,000 marriages occurred in Pennsylvania in 2017. Additionally, the wedding industry generates over $2 Billion per year. However, our marriage laws specify only a small number of people who can solemnize marriages. Couples looking to get married in the Commonwealth are often confused by what options they have when considering who can legally officiate their wedding.

Other states are adding “civil celebrants” to the list of persons who can legally solemnize marriages. Civil celebrants are professional wedding officiants who are educated in philosophy, history, ceremonial structure, and ceremonial presentation. These professionals help couples create meaningful, personalized weddings in a secular environment.

Adding civil celebrants as legal wedding officiators will help create new careers, grow our economy, make Pennsylvania a more appealing wedding destination, and give couples another choice when choosing an officiant. In addition, my bill also updates the current list of religious leaders of various faiths that perform marriages in Pennsylvania to include Muslim leaders known as “imams.” Please join me in modernizing our law for the benefit of the wedding industry, its consumers, and the Commonwealth.