How to Fill Out a Marriage License

When you are asked you to perform a wedding ceremony, you need to take the necessary steps to become an ordained minister. After that, once the service is planned, a location is chosen, and everything is set for the momentous occasion, your job is to perform the ceremony and complete the marriage license. As the officiant, you need to ensure that it is filled out accurately and turned in within the appropriate timeframe.

Marriage License versus Marriage Certificate

First off, it is important to understand the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate. A marriage license is a legal document recording the details of and verifying that a proper wedding ceremony took place. Marriage licenses are binding agreements that are archived by the issuing government office. On the other hand, marriage certificates commemorative/ceremonial documents designed to provide the couple with a stylish paper record of their nuptials. These certificates are a physical representation of spiritual bond and pledge that a couple makes to one another. Celebrating a wedding day with a personalized certificate is a wonderful way to relive that special moment.

The Universal Life Church offers marriage certificates in its online minister supply store. These certificates are relatively simple to complete. Marriage licenses, on the other hand, can often be somewhat complicated; this guide will specifically attempt to aid you in completing these marriage licenses accurately and legally.

General Requirements

Top of marriage license

The wedding day is likely to be filled with multiple distractions, so it is a smart idea to fill out the license as thoroughly as is reasonably possible well in advance of the ceremony. Completing the license in advance can eliminate errors or omissions that may be difficult to change later down the line. If the couple fills out the license ahead of time, only their signatures, and the signatures of the witnesses and the officiant need to be added, preferably immediately after the ceremony.

Additionally, do keep in mind that every county in the United States has different guidelines for the proper completion and filing of marriage licenses. Many areas have definite and narrow time windows in which these licenses may be acquired and returned. Well before the wedding ceremony, please carve out some time to discuss with the couple the legal requirements surrounding their marriage license to ensure that all of the procedures are followed correctly. You can get some idea of the regulations in place by visiting the appropriate page in the state marriage laws section of our website, but we would always advise that you reach out to the issuing office of the marriage license for clarification on any specific questions you might have.

Steps to Complete the Marriage License

Mmarriage license

As you are filling out the license, keep in mind that as an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church you're official, legal title is "Minister", and that any wedding you perform in that capacity is a religious wedding. Understanding how to fill out a marriage license properly is just one of your duties, but it is a significant one. The license is the statement that declares that the union is legally binding, and it can play a critical part in the lives of the couple. It is also part of the honor of helping the couple be recognized as married in the eyes of the world. Although the form varies by jurisdiction, there are common characteristics to most licenses. Here are a few general guidelines for filling out a marriage license.

  • Information about the groom. Complete the groom's first and last name on the license where indicated. Also add the city and state of his birth on the appropriate lines.
  • Contact details for the bride. Write the bride's first and last name, using her maiden name, on the license. It is important to also include her birth city and state.
  • Wedding event information. Next you will complete the wedding event information, which includes date, time and location. The location field should include the name of the church (or alternate venue where the wedding was held), as well as the city and state in which the church is located
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  • Officiant information. This is the field in which you will fill out your full, legal name.
  • Add your title. Once you have obtained your ULC ordination, you are officially deemed a legal minister of the Universal Life Church. Where the license asks for your title, record "Minister" in the appropriate box.
  • Define your church. Describe your church. When you perform a legal wedding ceremony, you are doing so as a Minister of the church or faith that granted your ordination. List the church or the religious affiliation in this section. Likely, if you are reading this guide, it is because you have receive an online ordination from the Universal Life Church
  • Claim your religious denomination. An ordination certifies you to marry couples from any religious background, so the most common response is non-denominational. If the wedding ceremony takes place under a particular denomination, be sure to note the couple's faith in the relevant box.
  • Include at least one witness. Most states require a minimum of one witness to also sign the marriage license. Often, the maid of honor and best man sign as witnesses that the ceremony actually took place. As the officiant, make sure that they fill out the correct fields after the ceremony is over. When the certificate has been completed, have everyone sign it.
  • Turn the license in on time. Every jurisdiction has its own stipulated deadlines for filing a marriage license once the ceremony has taken place. However, all states require that the license must be turned in to the office from which it was distributed either in person, by email or regular mail.
  • Meet all deadlines. There are two notable deadlines regarding the marriage certificate. The first is the period between the license application process and getting married. A typical time frame for this might be 60 days. The second critical deadline takes place after the ceremony. The certificate must be delivered to an official location, such as the county clerk or a state. This may be done by hand or through the mail, often within 10 days. Additionally, keep in mind that some areas have also instituted a waiting period between the reception of the license and when the ceremony may actually take place (frequently, this waiting period lasts for 24 hours).

Make sure to investigate how to complete the marriage license per your specific local guidelines. Once you present the completed document to the recording office, the clerk officially records it and the wedding is considered legally binding.

It's Official!

Signing a marriage certificate

It is your job as the wedding officiant to complete the couple's marriage license accurately. It may seem intimidating to record and file such important paperwork, but so long as you remain attentive to details the process is incredibly straightforward and simple to manage.

When you receive the copy of the marriage license, it will be stamped or otherwise marked to show that it was recorded. This makes the marriage official. Check it over carefully to make sure there are no mistakes that you did not notice before. The date of the wedding, the names of the bridge and groom, and all other personal information should all be correct. If there is a discrepancy, contact the courthouse right away to find out what you need to do to have things corrected. The sooner you tackle a serious problem like that, the better.