Kentucky Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in Kentucky can be as unique as its world-famous bourbon or moonshine. Would-be couples and wedding officiants will want to pay attention to avoid any legal hangovers. After combing through the Bluegrass State’s legal codes, we here at the Universal Life Church have distilled the process down to the following step-by-step guide. Taking special care to read through the specific requirements for both the marriage license and ceremony will help ensure whatever marriage you plan is both valid and binding in any county in Kentucky.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

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

In order for a marriage to be legally binding in the state of Kentucky, the ceremony must be performed by an authorized minister in the physical presence of both the couple and two adult witnesses. It’s also crucial that each member of the couple declare their formal intent to take each other as spouses, and that the minister then pronounce the couple married, for the marriage to be officially solemnized.

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

The legal age to marry in Kentucky stands at 18. Persons aged 16 and 17 require the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Any minor 15 or younger can only request a judge’s permission to be granted a marriage license if they are pregnant.

Kentucky also prohibits the marriage of any person deemed mentally disabled by a court, that still has a living husband or wife they didn’t officially divorce, or who is nearer to kin to the person they’re looking to marry than second cousins, whether by the whole or half blood. Although state laws technically bar members of the same sex from getting married in the same section, this is in contravention to recent federal laws on marriage equality reinforced by the US Supreme Court and are therefore irrelevant.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Varies by County
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

Among the list of officials authorized to solemnize weddings in the state of Kentucky are justices and judges (either serving or retired who haven’t been removed or convicted of a felony), ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with their religious societies, or those religious societies without an officiating minister or priest who perform marriages in the presence of their members.

As religious actors, ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church may need to present their credentials and a letter of good standing to the clerk, either before or after the ceremony, depending on the county where the ceremony will take place.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
30 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
By Expiration

A Kentucky marriage license is valid in any county in the state for a period of 30 days. Regardless of where it is issued, that license must be uniform in the information it provides, and must be returned to the same clerk who issued it before it expires.

Marriage License Requirements

No one can legally marry in the state of Kentucky without a marriage license. Both parties of the couple must present themselves before a county clerk, and specifically in the county in which the female resides in the event she is less than 18 years old. Please note that certain counties will not accept a passport as valid ID, while others may require divorce documents to verify any person is free to remarry.

The fee for a marriage license can run as high as $50 in Jefferson County.

Final Steps

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

It is the minister’s job to fill in the marriage certificate: to record the date when the ceremony took place, the name of the couple and the witnesses, as well as to ensure their own name, title and religious society (the Universal Life Church, in this case) are included before it is returned to the county clerk before its 30-day expiration.