South Carolina Marriage Laws

Couples looking to tie the knot in the state of South Carolina have no shortage of breathtaking coastline getaways and picturesque landmarks in historic Charleston from which to choose. And yet with those come a few unique marriage laws worth taking note of.

Having scoured the state’s legal code and compiled the most relevant excerpts, the Universal Life Church has published this step-by-step guide with the hopes of making life a little easier for starry-eyed lovers and ministers alike, and ensuring any marriage carried out is ultimately legally recognized by the state.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Ordination Credential
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
Probate Court
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

According to strict South Carolina law, only ministers of the Gospel, Jewish rabbis, officers of the state authorized to administer oaths and spiritual leaders of recognized Native American Indian tribes are allowed to solemnize weddings in the state. That being said, ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church are also recognized religious actors in any state, and fall within the minimum 18-year-old age requirement.

Generally, a minister’s primary residence, gender and belief system should not – on their own – be disqualifying factors in the eyes of any state. If you'd like to cover your bases (and we recommend you do), you can order the Classic Wedding Package, which has your legal proof of ministry.

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

While the state of South Carolina is not in the business of wedding planning, leaving it up to couples to plan their ceremonies according to their spiritual and aesthetic needs, it does require that both parties and the minister be physically present during the ceremony; that each party in the couple deliberately consent to marrying the other, and that the minister pronounce them married once they do. No witnesses are required.

Marriage License Requirements

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

Applicant couples between the ages of 18 and 25 will be required to present a valid photo ID or Social Security Card, in person, in order to prove their age to the probate judge or county clerk responsible for issuing marriage licenses. Proof of prior divorce is not required, and blood tests will never be mandated in South Carolina (or any state, for that matter) in order to prove a proposed union is incestuous.

The cost of a marriage license will vary by county, as well as for residents and outsiders.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
24 Hours
License Valid For:
6 Months
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 15 Days of Ceremony

Written application forms filled out by the couple, listing both their social security numbers, must be submitted to the probate judge at least 24 hours before any marriage license can be issued. That license will detail the exact date and time of issuance, and be valid for a period of 6 months from then. Probate judges or clerks convicted of breaking with this procedure can be fined up to $100 and even spend up to 30 days in jail.

Couples will receive three copies of the marriage license. All must then be delivered to the officiating minister charged with filling them out once the ceremony is over, returning one back to the couple and dropping the remaining two with the same officer who issued them within 15 days tops – or within 30 days in Lexington County.

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

Any person looking to marry in South Carolina, resident or not, must be at least 18 years old. Applicants between the ages of 16 and 18 and living with parents, relatives or legal guardians will need their sworn affidavits consenting to any marriage.

Although South Carolina law technically prohibits same-sex marriages in the same legal section it does unions between couples deemed mentally incompetent or those deemed incestuous (all blood relations closer than first cousins), recent changes in federal law means same-sex couples are now welcome to wed 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

Even as the couple prepares for their honeymoon, the minister’s job is not done.

South Carolina requires that ministers fill out and return two of the three copies of the marriage license to the same officer who issued them within 15 days of the completed ceremony, making sure to include their name, home address and the name of the religious organization they represent, in this case the Universal Life Church Ministries.