Michigan Marriage Laws

If the thought of tying the knot in Michigan thrills you to no end, it might also excite you to know the state offers very little in the way of curveballs as far as its marriage laws go. We here at the Universal Life Church should know, having already taken the time to scroll through its legal codes and compiled all relevant requirements and exceptions for both couples and ministers into a simple easy-to-follow guide. So read up and start daydreaming. That perfect ceremony by Niagara Falls will be both breathtaking and legally binding.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Ordination Credential and Letter of Good Standing
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Before the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

Most judges, magistrates, mayors, clerks, ministers of the gospel or religious practitioners authorized to solemnize marriages can officiate weddings in Michigan, provided they are 18 years old. Ministers must present their ordination credentials and a letter of good standing to the county clerk prior to the ceremony. This includes those ordained online by the Universal Life Church, who are sanctioned ‘religious actors’ authorized to perform weddings regardless of their residence, stated gender or personal beliefs.

ULC ministers in Michigan frequently choose to order the Classic Wedding Package, which includes all the necessary documentation to register, should they be asked to present it.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes

Michigan has little to no desire to interfere with the specific customs, rituals or flow of any formal ceremony, whether religious or civil, leaving it to couples and ministers to plan these according to their own needs. However, the state mandates that each person in the couple solemnly declare to take the other as their spouse, before both the presiding minister or magistrate and at least two attending witnesses aged 18 or older, and that the minister then pronounce the couple married.

Marriage License Requirements

All prospective couples looking to wed in the state of Michigan must obtain a marriage license, in person, from a clerk in the county in which either of the two reside. If both are non-residents of Michigan, they must visit the clerk in the county where the wedding will take place. Some virtual or mail services continue to be made available through the COVID-19 pandemic, although this will continue to vary by county.

Couples must present a written application and swear an oath on all the information provided therein, proving their age with either a driver’s license or another state-issued ID and birth certificate. Parental consent for minors will either have to be delivered by them in person or by way of a notarized affidavit. Some counties may also demand proof of prior divorce, although no state can ask for blood tests in order to disprove kinship. There will be a $20 fee for the license. Additional fees may vary by county.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
3 Days
License Valid For:
33 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

No marriage license shall be issued until three days after the application date. The county clerk reserves the right to ignore that waiting period for good and sufficient cause, in which case extra fees will be determined by the board of commissioners. Once issued, the marriage license will be valid for a period of 33 days in the county where it was issued. Michigan residents can use their licenses state-wide.

It’s the couple’s responsibility to deliver the license to the minister or magistrate tasked with solemnizing the wedding, and that person’s job to ensure the certificate is properly filled out and returned to the same county clerk within 10 days of the ceremony.

Requirements for the Couple

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

In line with most states, Michigan has set the age of consent to marry at 18 years old. No marriage shall be contracted to any minor under 16 year of age, while 16 and 17 year olds can only marry with the written consent of either one parent or legal guardian.

Women in the state are prohibited from marrying their fathers, brothers, sons, grandsons or stepfathers; either their grandmother's, daughter's or granddaughter's husband; their husband's father, grandfather, son or grandson; their brother's or sister's son, their father's or mother's brother, or any of their first cousins.

Although Michigan extends that forbidden list to include ‘any other woman’, changes in federal marriage equality laws means same sex couples can now legally wed.

Final Steps

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

Once the ceremony is complete, it’s the clergyman or magistrate’s duty to fill in the marriage certificate, marking the official time and place of the marriage, the names and residences of the two witnesses present, as well as their own name, title and signature, all either typewritten or legibly printed.

The duplicate license and certificate must then be separated and delivered to the newlyweds, the original returned to the issuing county clerk within 10 days. Michigan law also requires that the minister keep an accurate record of all the marriages they’ve solemnized in a book solely for that purpose.