North Carolina Marriage Laws

Whether drawn by the sun, the saltwater breeze or the fresh mountain air, plenty of natives and non-residents alike will plan their dream wedding in the state of North Carolina. And sure enough, the Tar Heel State is relatviely easy-going when it comes to managing its marriage laws.

That being said, the Universal Life Church urges you to consult the following guide, compiled alongside the corresponding blocks of legal code, that will help ensure the process of securing a marriage license and planning the ceremony go off without a hitch, and that the union is legally recognized in North Carolina.

Requirements for the Minister

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

Every state in the US recognizes weddings solemnized in either civil or religious ceremonies. In North Carolina, any minister that is either an ordained member of a religious denomination or authorized by a magistrate, will be legally authorized to perform the ceremony, provided they are at least 18 years old.

This includes ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church, religious actors who are legally recognized nationally without prejudice to their residence, gender or personal religious beliefs. Just remember that ministers may be asked to provide relevant ordination credentials depending on the county issuing the license.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

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

North Carolina takes a very hands-off approach as far as dictating the precise manner in which wedding ceremonies must take place, leaving it to the couple and minister to do so according to their own customs, beliefs and desires.

In fact, the law clearly states that a marriage will be deemed sufficient and valid as long as it includes the consent of two individuals to take each other – “freely, seriously and plainly expressed” – in the presence of the other and two adult witnesses, followed by the minister or magistrate’s consequent declaration that the couple are now whatever combination of husband and wife had been previously agreed upon.

Marriage License Requirements

Couples set on obtaining a marriage license in the state of North Carolina must present themselves before a register of deeds, in person, where they will be asked to divulge their age, social security numbers, marital status and intention to marry. Birth certificates and divorce decrees may be demanded as proof, and an official can demand an oath be sworn in order to secure the veracity of the info provided. It costs $60 to apply.

Please note that North Carolina will allow applications to be submitted both over video conference and through the mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

A marriage license issued in North Carolina is valid in any county in the state for a period of 60 days. There is no mandated waiting period between issuance and solemnization, which means both can technically be completed on the same day.

The state will require that a completed marriage license include the full name, age, race and place of residence of both members of the couple, the names and addresses of their parents (if applicable), as well as those of the two adult witnesses present and the minister or officiant who solemnized the marriage.

Requirements for the Couple

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

You have to be at least 18 years old to marry in the state of North Carolina. Any couple with at least one party who is at least 16 years old will require the sworn consent of their parent or guardian, while those between 14 and 16 must obtain court approval. Same sex couples and non-residents are also welcome to wed in the state.

Except in the rare case of a marriage between double first cousins, any relationship that is closer in blood than second cousins will be deemed incestuous and void in the state.

Final Steps

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

To the joyful married couple goes the honeymoon; to the minister, the responsibility.

Apart from ensuring that the marriage license is completely filled out to include all pertinent information on the couple, their parents and the witnesses, the minister must also include their title, the name of the church or religious organization with which they are affiliated (the Universal Life Church) and their own home address, if asked to provide an address of ministry.

Failure to properly fill out, endorse and return said documents back to the registrar of deeds within 10 days of the ceremony, and before the 60-day window in which the marriage license was originally issued, may result in a $200 fine.