Pennsylvania Marriage Laws

As the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, the state of Pennsylvania owes much of its historical identity to the forging of laws. Any couple looking to get hitched in the Keystone State will tell you that at least some of that tradition lives on to this very day. In an effort to ensure no union of star-crossed lovers gets bogged down in unnecessary red tape, we’ve compiled this detailed guide to Pennsylvania marriage law designed to show couples how to plan a legally binding marriage.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
None
Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

Couples are free to plan their wedding in the county of their choosing, and fashion the ceremony according to their specific needs and desires.

The state of Pennsylvania requires only that both the couple and minister be physically present for the ceremony, that the couple each consent to taking the other as husband or wife, and that the minister finally pronounce the two married once this has been done. All of this can be done without a single other witness present, perfect for those looking for a particularly intimate 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

Pennsylvania mandates that only persons at least 18 years of age are allowed to legally marry on its soil. Exceptions will be made, and a marriage license granted, only in those cases where minors who are at least 16 years of age receive the written consent of a parent or guardian, followed by judicial approval.

Marriages between any two persons closer in blood than second cousins will not be tolerated, nor any union in which one member of the couple admits to having a transmissible disease. Recent changes in federal laws means same sex marriages are now recognized in Pennsylvania, for both residents and non-residents alike.

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:
Office of the Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Varies by County
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

Like most states, Pennsylvania recognizes both civil and religious marriages, and thus allows both active and retired state and federal judges, justices and mayors, as well as ministers, priests, rabbis or any other authorized religious leader representing the beliefs of at least one member of the couple, to solemnize a marriage. That includes any minister ordained online, such as those belonging to the Universal Life Church, who are considered legal “religious actors” regardless of their state or country of origin, gender, or individual belief systems.

Ministers must be at least 18 years old and register with the Office of the Clerk. The documents required to do so will inevitably vary from county to county, which is why the ULC suggests its ministers carry relevant ordination certificates at all times. Those documents can be found in the Classic Wedding Package, which we recommend all our Pennsylvania ministers order.

Marriage License Facts

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

The state of Pennsylvania requires that couples wait three days between receiving their marriage license and carrying out the wedding ceremony. Once issued, the license will be valid in any county in the state, for no longer than 60 days.

It must be eventually filled out by the officiating minister and returned to the same county clerk from where it was obtained no later than 10 days after the ceremony.

Marriage License Requirements

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Pennsylvania
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID and Proof of Social Security Number
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

Couples looking to wed in Pennsylvania must present themselves, in person, before a county clerk with a signed application that includes the full name, occupation, birthplace, residence and age of both applicants and their parents, verifiable by both valid photo ID and proof of social security number.

Applicants must also indicate whether the marriage being contemplated is their first, second or even third, and will be asked to submit relevant divorce documents if applicable. The county clerk cannot demand blood tests to disprove blood relations.

The cost of a marriage license will vary by county, ranging between $40 and $85.

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 sign the original marriage license and return it to the couple, and also to fill out and sign the duplicate (including their title, relevant religious society and home address, if required) and return that to the same county clerk where it was issued. This must be done within ten days of the completed ceremony.