Wedding Ceremony Requirements
- Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
- Minister Required to be Present:
- Number of Witnesses Required:
- Min. Age of Witnesses:
- Not Applicable
- Couple's Consent Required:
- Pronouncement Required:
It is essential that all legally relevant parties are physically present for the wedding ceremony. This includes the minister, and both members of the couple as Arkansas does not allow proxy marriages. No witnesses are required in this state.
The ceremony may be completely customized to reflect the wishes of the couple. The content and the tenor is up to their preference. The minister just needs to include the two legally required portions of the ceremony. These are the verbal confirmation of consent by the couple, often recognized as the “I do” exchange, and the pronouncement by the minister that the couple is wed.
A.C.A. § 9-11-215. Marriage ceremony.
(a) When marriages are solemnized by a minister of the gospel or priest, the ceremony shall be according to the forms and customs of the church or society to which he or she belongs. When solemnized by a civil officer, the form observed shall be the one the officer deems most appropriate.
(b) It shall be lawful for religious societies who reject formal ceremonies to join together in marriage persons who are members of the society according to the forms, customs, or rites of the society to which they belong, with the exception that the requirements set forth in the Covenant Marriage Act of 2001, § 9-11-801 et seq., shall be complied with if the parties enter into a covenant marriage.
Requirements for the Couple
- Min. Age of Couple:
- Age 18 or Age 17 with Guardian Consent
- Not Required
- Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
- Second Cousins
- Marriage Equality:
In the state of Arkansas adults age 18, or minors who are 17 and have parental consent, can legally be wed.
Arkansas does not have a residency requirement for those applying for a marriage license. This means out-of-state couples, or even residents of other countries, are welcome to hold weddings in the state.
All states in the U.S. honor marriage equality so same sex couples are able to legally wed in Arkansas.
§ 9-11-102. Minimum age — Parental consent — Definition.
(a) Every male who has arrived at the full age of seventeen (17) years and every female who has arrived at the full age of seventeen (17) years shall be capable in law of contracting marriage.
(A) However, males and females under the age of eighteen (18) years shall furnish the clerk, before the marriage license can be issued, satisfactory evidence of the consent of the parent or parents or guardian to the marriage.
(B) As used in subdivision (b)(1)(A) of this section, “satisfactory evidence” means a verified affidavit signed in the presence of a notary that states that the parent or parents or guardian of the minor consents to the marriage.
(A) The consent of both parents of each contracting party shall be necessary before the marriage license can be issued by the clerk unless the parents have been divorced and custody of the child has been awarded to one (1) of the parents exclusive of the other, or unless the custody of the child has been surrendered by one (1) of the parents through abandonment or desertion, in which cases the consent of the parent who has custody of the child shall be sufficient.
(B) The consent of the parent may be voided by the order of a circuit court on a showing by clear and convincing evidence that:
(i) The parent is not fit to make decisions concerning the child; and
(ii) The marriage is not in the child's best interest.
(c) There shall be a waiting period of five (5) business days for any marriage license issued under subdivision (b)(2) of this section.
(d) If a child has a pending case in the circuit court, a parent who files consent under subsection (b) of this section shall immediately notify the circuit court, all parties, and attorneys to the pending case.
A.C.A. § 9-11-103. Minimum age — Exception.
(1) If an application for a marriage license is made where one (1) or both parties are under eighteen (18) years of age but older than sixteen (16) years of age and the female is pregnant, both parties may appear before a judge of the circuit court of the district where the application for a marriage license is being made.
(2) Evidence shall be submitted as to:
(A) The pregnancy of the female in the form of a certificate from a licensed and regularly practicing physician of the State of Arkansas;
(B) The birth certificates of both parties; and
(C) Parental consent of each party who may be under the minimum age.
(3) Thereupon, after consideration of the evidence and other facts and circumstances, if the judge finds that it is to the best interest of the parties, the judge may enter an order authorizing and directing the county clerk to issue a marriage license to the parties.
Requirements for the Minister
- Min. Age of Minister:
- Age 18
- Not Required
- Document(s) Required:
- Credentials of Ministry
- Online Ordination Recognized:
- Relevant Office of Registration:
- County Clerk
- Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
- Before Ceremony
- Minister I.D. # Issued:
Marriage officiants in Arkansas must be 18 years of age or older to perform a wedding ceremony. There are no residency requirements so the minister may be from another state or even another country.
In Arkansas, ministers will be required to show documentation prior to the wedding ceremony at the County Clerk’s office. After getting ordained online, ministers should obtain an official ULC credential of ministry, as they will likely be asked to provide it in a process of registration with the county office that issued the license. Once registration is complete, the minister will be issued a certificate stating that their license is registered in said county by the clerk.
To verify the documentation that the County Clerk’s office will need from the minister, we always recommend contacting that office directly to confirm the process. It can vary from county to county. They will let you know with certainty the current up to date registration steps. Make sure to keep any documents that they issue, as it is possible they will request a ministerial registration number on the marriage license.
The ULC’s general recommendation is to have, at minimum, a copy of the ordination credential but additional items such as a letter of good standing may be required to register in Arkansas. Make sure to complete the registration process, and submit all paperwork prior to the ceremony.
A.C.A. § 9-11-213. Persons who may solemnize marriages.
(a) For the purpose of being registered and perpetuating the evidence thereof, marriage shall be solemnized only by the following persons:
(1) The Governor;
(2) Any former justice of the Supreme Court;
(3) Any judges of the courts of record within this state, including any former judge of a court of record who served at least four (4) years or more;
(4) Any justice of the peace, including any former justice of the peace who served at least two (2) terms since the passage of Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 55;
(5) Any regularly ordained minister or priest of any religious sect or denomination;
(6) The mayor of any city or town;
(7) Any official appointed for that purpose by the quorum court of the county where the marriage is to be solemnized; or
(8) Any elected district court judge and any former municipal or district court judge who served at least four (4) years.
A.C.A. § 9-11-214. Recordation of credentials of clerical character.
(a) No minister of the gospel or priest of any religious sect or denomination shall be authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony in this state until the minister or priest has caused to be recorded his or her license or credentials of his or her clerical character in the office of the county clerk of some county in this state. The minister or priest must also have obtained from the clerk a certificate, under his or her hand and seal, that the credentials are duly recorded in his or her office.
(b) It shall be the duty of a minister of the gospel or priest to add to the certificate of marriage required by law a statement setting forth the county where and the time when his or her license or credentials were so recorded.
(c) Any minister of the gospel, priest of any religious sect or denomination, or any person purporting to be such, who shall solemnize the rites of matrimony contrary to the provisions of this section, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. On conviction he or she shall be fined in any sum not less than one hundred dollars ($100).
Marriage License Facts
- ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
- Mandatory Waiting Period:
- License Valid For:
- 60 Days
- License Must Be Submitted:
- By Expiration
The couple needs to make sure that the marriage license they get is for a “religious” ceremony, regardless of if they plan to have religious elements in the wedding or not. This is different from a “civil” ceremony, which would be conducted by a judge or a justice of the peace. Universal Life Church ministers have the authority to perform marriages because of their ordination, which makes the ceremony a “religious” one.
Arkansas does not require a waiting period between when they issue the license to the couple and when the wedding can take place. This means it can take place the very same day, giving the couple a great amount of flexibility. The only exception is for underage couples who will have a 5 day waiting period before the license is issued.
Once the license is issued, it will be valid for 60 days at which point it needs to be returned. In Arkansas they require the license to be returned whether the wedding has taken place or not.
A.C.A. § 9-11-218. Return of executed license to clerk — Effect on bond.
(a) Any person obtaining a license under the provisions of this act shall be required to return the license to the office of the clerk of the county court within sixty (60) days from the date of the license.
(1) If the license is duly executed and officially signed by some person authorized by law to solemnize marriage in this state, the bond required by § 9-11-210 shall be deemed null and void.
(2) Otherwise, it shall remain in full force and effect.
There is a waiting period of five business days for all underage (under 18 years of age) applications for marriage licenses.
Marriage License Requirements
- Who Picks Up License:
- The Couple
- Where License is Valid:
- Any County in Arkansas
- Marriage License Pick-Up:
- In Person Only
- Cost of License:
- Accepted I.D. Types:
- Photo ID
- Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
- Blood Test Required:
The couple may go to any county in Arkansas to pick up the marriage license, and the marriage can take place anywhere within the state. The license must be returned to the office from which it was issued.
The couple will need to bring with them a form of photo identification and the $60 fee that a marriage license currently costs in Arkansas.
Arkansas will not require either member of the couple to get a blood test before obtaining a marriage license.
A.C.A. § 9-11-203. Issuance by clerks.
(a) The clerks of the county courts of the several counties in this state are required to furnish the license upon:
(1) Application's being made;
(2) Being fully assured that applicants are lawfully entitled to the license; and
(3) Receipt of his or her fee.
(b) It shall be lawful for clerks of the circuit courts to issue marriage licenses in counties having two (2) judicial districts.
A.C.A. § 9-11-206. Clerk's fees.
The fee prescribed by law for the issuance of the marriage license shall be paid to the clerk at the time the applicants apply for the marriage license and sign the notice of intention to wed.
- Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
- Church/Ordaining Body:
- Universal Life Church Ministries
- Address of Church:
- Minister's Home Address
After the completion of the wedding ceremony there are only a couple of additional steps that need to take place to make sure the wedding is recognized as legally binding.
The marriage license must be filled out by the minister. In the blank space that asks for the officiant name, please give the full name without any titles. If it has an additional space asking for a title, there you will put “minister”. If they ask for the name ordaining body, put “Universal Life Church Ministries.” A blank on the license for “church address” should be filled in with your personal address in the case that they need to contact you.
Take care to be sure all blanks are correctly filled out before returning the license to the county office that issued it for recording. Errors can result in the need to have a license reissued at an additional cost to the couple.
It is very important to note that in Arkansas it is essential that the license is returned to the county office that issued it, whether or not the wedding takes place, by the expiration date. Failure to do so may result in penalties.
ULC ministers should keep a personal record of any and all ceremonies that they perform, especially if they are paid or under contract for services.
Most importantly, have a wonderful time during this special occasion sharing a beautiful and love filled moment with the couple!