Pennsylvania Marriage Laws - Universal Life Church

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Pennsylvania Marriage Laws

Congratulations! If you've found yourself at this page it is likely that you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in Pennsylvania. Ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in Pennsylvania. The information provided below will walk you through the steps one must follow to become a minister and perform a valid wedding ceremony in the state of Pennsylvania.

Quick Facts
  • ULC Ordination Accepted: Yes*
  • Minister Registration Required: Sometimes
  • Minister's Residency: Irrelevant
  • Minister's Minimum Age: 18
  • Marriage License Waiting Period: 3 Days
  • Marriage License Valid For: 60 Days
  • Marriage License Return Within: 10 Days

1 How to Become an Ordained Minister in Pennsylvania

If you haven't already, you should get ordained online with the Universal Life Church. Ordination is free and can be completed in just a matter of minutes. Thousands of legally valid marriages are performed by ULC ministers around the world every year. Begin the process by clicking the big blue button below!

2 How to Officiate a Marriage in Pennsylvania

Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk). Let them know that you are a minister of the Universal Life Church in Seattle, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage.

Select your county to quickly generate the contact information for your local marriage authority.

Select a county

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3 License to Marry in Pennsylvania

After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our online store to purchase whatever documentation will be required. We typically advise ministers in Pennsylvania to get an Ordination Package and to add on a Letter of Good Standing. While minister registration is not required in the state of Pennsylvania, it has been frequently reported to us by ULC ministers in the area that county clerks will ask for proof of your ordination before accepting any marriage you perform as having been legally solemnized. Additionally, please attempt to leave at least 3 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in advance.

*It has come to our attention that some county clerks in Pennsylvania have made it a habit to distribute slips of paper calling the ordinations of the Universal Life Church into question when one mentions that they were ordained online. You should know that: 1. government employees like county clerks are prohibited from offering legal advice in this fashion, and 2. Despite these alleged threats, our ministers have successfully performed several marriages in Pennsylvania without issue. Furthermore, a judge in Bucks county in 2008 (after the Universal Life Church collaborated with the ACLU in a lawsuit against the state) found that ordinations from the Universal Life Church were legal and the marriages performed by its ministers valid. This ruling has held strongly, at least, in Bucks County. We are currently working to get stronger affirmations of the validity of ULC ordination on a statewide level. We would encourage you to reach out to us if you encounter any difficulties.

4 How to Perform a Wedding in Pennsylvania

Now that you've done all of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! Be sure that the couple has picked up their Pennsylvania marriage license from the appropriate office. This license will expire 60 days after it is issued, and there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period between when the couple picks up the marriage license in Pennsylvania and when the ceremony may legally be conducted. The signed license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days of the ceremony. At the Universal Life Church we receive several calls from wedding officiants in Pennsylvania, after they've received their license to marry by getting ordained online, asking for guidance on how to perform a wedding ceremony. Once the legal matters have been taken care of, officiating a wedding (while a sometimes-daunting task) can be a great deal of fun. We would suggest that new Pennsylvania wedding ministers concerned about the ceremony peruse one of our helpful wedding guides. The minister training section of our website should offer a helpful refresher for more experienced ministers.

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Pennsylvania Marriage Code

Marriage in Pennsylvania is governed by Section 1503 of the Pennsylvania General Statutes. Ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of weddings in the state. Below, you will find that we have reproduced the relevant excerpts of this code.
§ 1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.

(a) General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:

(1) A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.

(2) A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:

(i) has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;

(ii) has not been defeated for reelection or retention;

(iii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iv) has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;

(v) has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and

(vi) is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(3) An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania.

(3.1) An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(4) An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(5) A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.

(5.1) A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:

(i) has not been defeated for reelection;

(ii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iii) has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies;

(iv) has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and

(v) is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(6) A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.

(b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

(c) Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.

(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)

2004 Amendment. See sections 28 and 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability and construction of law.

View the Pennsylvania Statutes on the official state site
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Adams County

111-117 Baltimore Street
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 337-9806
Fax: (717) 334-9333
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Allegheny County

436 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Armstrong County

500 East Market Street
Kittanning, Pennsylvania

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Beaver County

810 Third Street
Beaver, Pennsylvania

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Bedford County

200 South Juliana Street
Bedford, Pennsylvania

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Berks County

633 Court Street
Reading, Pennsylvania

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Blair County

423 Allegheny Street
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

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Bradford County

301 Main Street
Towanda, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 265-1705
Fax: (570) 265-1721
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Bucks County

55 East Court Street
Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Phone: (215) 348-6389
Fax: (215) 348-6156
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Butler County

124 West Diamond Street
Butler, Pennsylvania

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Cambria County

200 South Center Street
Ebensburg, Pennsylvania

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Cameron County

20 East Fifth Street
Emporium, Pennsylvania

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Carbon County

4 Broadway
P.O. Box 107
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

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Centre County

Allegheny & High Streets
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

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Chester County

201 West Market Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania

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Clarion County

421 Main Street
Clarion, Pennsylvania

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Clearfield County

230 East Market Street
Clearfield, Pennsylvania

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Clinton County

230 East Water Street
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

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Columbia County

35 West Main Street
P.O. Box 380
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

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Crawford County

903 Diamond Park
Meadville, Pennsylvania

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Cumberland County

1 Courthouse Square
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

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Dauphin County

101 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Delaware County

201 West Front Street
Media, Pennsylvania

Phone: (610) 891-4370
Fax: (610) 891-8759
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Elk County

240 Main Street
Ridgway, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 776-5344
Fax: (814) 776-5303
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Erie County

140 West Sixth Street
Erie, Pennsylvania

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Fayette County

61 East Main Street
Uniontown, Pennsylvania

Phone: (724) 430-1253
Fax: (724) 430-1275
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Forest County

526 Elm Street
Tionesta, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 755-3526
Fax: (814) 755-8837
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Franklin County

157 Lincoln Way East
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

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Fulton County

201 North Second Street
McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania

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Greene County

10 East High Street
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Phone: (724) 852-5281
Fax: (724) 852-5316
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Huntingdon County

223 Penn Street
P.O. Box 39
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 643-2740
Fax: (814) 643-8152
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Indiana County

825 Philadelphia Street
Indiana, Pennsylvania

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Jefferson County

200 Main Street
Brookville, Pennsylvania

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Juniata County

Bridge & Main Streets
P.O. Box 68
Mifflintown, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 436-7715
Fax: (717) 436-7756
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Lackawanna County

436 Spruce Street
Scranton, Pennsylvania

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Lancaster County

50 North Duke Street
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 299-8275
Fax: (717) 295-3686
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Lawrence County

430 Court Street
New Castle, Pennsylvania

Phone: (724) 656-2126
Fax: (724) 656-1988
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Lebanon County

400 South Eighth Street
Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 274-2801 ext 2217
Fax: (717) 274-8094
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Lehigh County

455 West Hamilton Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania

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Luzerne County

200 North River Street
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

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Lycoming County

48 West Third Street
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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McKean County

500 West Main Street
Smethport, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 887-3260
Fax: (814) 887-3255
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Mercer County

112 Mercer County Courthouse
Mercer, Pennsylvania

Phone: (724) 662-3800
Fax: (724) 662-1604
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Mifflin County

20 North Wayne Street
Lewistown, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 248-8146
Fax: (717) 248-2503
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Monroe County

610 Monroe Street
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

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Montgomery County

P.O. Box 311
Norristown, Pennsylvania

Phone: (610) 278-3346
Fax: (610) 278-5188
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Montour County

29 Mill Street
Danville, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 271-3010
Fax: (570) 271-3089
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Northampton County

669 Washington Street
Easton, Pennsylvania

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Northumberland County

201 Market Street
Sunbury, Pennsylvania

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Perry County

P.O. Box 325
New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia County

1301 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Pike County

412 Broad Street
Milford, Pennsylvania

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Potter County

One East Second Street
Coudersport, Pennsylvania

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Schuylkill County

401 North Second Street
Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 628-1382
Fax: (570) 628-1384
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Snyder County

9 West Market Street
P.O. Box 217
Middleburg, Pennsylvania

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Somerset County

111 East Union Street
Somerset, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 445-1548
Fax: (814) 445-1542
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Sullivan County

Main & Muncy Streets
Laporte, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 946-7351
Fax: (570) 946-7105
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Susquehanna County

11 Maple Street
Montrose, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 278-4600
Fax: (570) 278-2963
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Tioga County

116 Main Street
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

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Union County

103 South Second Street
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Phone: (570) 524-8751
Fax: (570) 524-8628
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Venango County

1168 Liberty Street
Franklin, Pennsylvania

Phone: (814) 432-9539
Fax: (814) 432-9569
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Warren County

204 Fourth Avenue
Warren, Pennsylvania

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Washington County

1 South Main Street
Washington, Pennsylvania

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Wayne County

925 Court Street
Honesdale, Pennsylvania

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Westmoreland County

2 North Main Streey
Greensburg, Pennsylvania

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Wyoming County

One Courthouse Square
Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

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York County

45 North George Street
York, Pennsylvania

Phone: (717) 771-9288
Fax: (717) 771-4678
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