Wedding Etiquette Forum

Having a friend become ordained online so they can marry us... is that a legitimate in all states???

To help save on wedding budget costs, we asked a friend if they would become ordained as a minister online (instead of hiring a non-denominational minister for about 10X the cost) to marry us at our wedding ceremony in WI.

Is this legitimate in all states, or only certain states? 

If anyone has any feedback, please let us know, as we'd hate to go through all of it just to find out that it not a legitimate marriage.


Thank you!!

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Re: Having a friend become ordained online so they can marry us... is that a legitimate in all states???

  • We are having my uncle do that too! He lives in NM, but the wedding will be in MA. He applied to be ordained through the state of MA and just received the letter for the governor of MA the he can perform our wedding on Sept 21. So yes we will be a legitimate marriage.

    Also, my best friend did it last year. Same thing. Also a legitimate marriage.
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  • I'd look up the laws of your state. Is the state your getting married in different from the one you are going to live in?
     Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • This is going to vary not only by state but also by county.

     

    You need to contact the clerk of court of the county in which your ceremony will take place.  Ask them what the requirements are for a valid marriage and if you can have a friend become ordained/registered to marry you.

    Once the valid marriage takes place in that county it should be recognized by the federal government and by other states.

    PrettyGirlLostSKPM
  • I'm ordained, through American Marriage Ministries :) 

    Just be sure your friend reads up on the laws of the state you will be married in and check with the county clerk's office in your county to see if he/she needs to register with the county before hand. Also make sure your friend reads up on the requirements for filling out and returning the marriage license, if not properly it could void your marriage.
    ~*~June 21, 2014~*~


  • It varies but COUNTY, not just state. Online ordinations are not recognized at ALL in PA, for example. But in other states, there are certain counties that don't recognize them, while others do.

    You need to call the county clerk for the county that you are getting married in (not where you will be living) and ask them. 
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    PrettyGirlLost
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
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    Ditto NOLA.  Some states do not recognize the online ordination process.  Some states/counties will allow your friend to obtain a one day license granting your friend the chance to marry on that one day.  So call your county clerk where you are marrying.
    SKPM
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
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    Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Ditto PPs that you need to check not only state, but county requirements.  My uncle got ordained online to marry us.  Since we got married in Wisconsin, but he lives in Illinois, he needed to take an additional step, which we wouldn't have known if we hadn't carefully checked our county's requirements.
  • misshart00misshart00 Oklahoma member
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    Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?

    I'm also curious about this. It could end up costing a lot to get the friend ordained.
  • CheleLynCheleLyn member
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    edited July 2013
    Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?
    It's not really a matter of cost for some. J and I are atheist so there was no way we would have had a minister from any denomination. At the same time, we don't want the mayor, judge, etc because we want someone who knows US and what we believe. During the planning for our wedding, I discovered there really isn't any other option for people who don't want a minister. Since I got ordained, I have spoken with several people who are glad to have this option available and I've got a couple weddings booked for this year and one for next year already.

    J's cousin will be marrying us...she's perfect for us, we know she'll bring her own personality to the ceremony, and we like having someone who means something to us being able to marry us.

    ETA: The going rate for an officiant in our area is $50 :) and there was no charge for getting ordained.
    ~*~June 21, 2014~*~


  • Do you live in or near the county that you will be married in? I'd be tempted to do a little research and if it isn't clear to go in and ask.  We live and gone married in Wayne County (Detroit Area) MI, and while the main office is downtown they have two "Satellite Offices" that they are at a couple of days a week, one of which is about a mile from my house.  They were not very busy when I went in and they were very helpful.  Specifically they told me that when you follow the normal process of the minister mailing in the lisance that it can take several weeks to process before a "certified copy" can be made and the name change process can start, while if someone hand delivers the paperwork back to them, they can process it right there and get a certified copy right then and there.  That was information that wasn't clear on the website and meant at lot to me.
  • edited July 2013
    Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?

    I'm also curious about this. It could end up costing a lot to get the friend ordained.

    Our officiant was $250.   In my county, you just pay whatever the website charges to ordain you (I think some are free?) and then the cost of a notary which is pretty cheap even if you don't have someone to notarize it for free.  It would have been a substantial enough savings that I would have considered it if I had a friend or relative who was willing to do it.
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
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    CheleLyn said:



    Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?

    It's not really a matter of cost for some. J and I are atheist so there was no way we would have had a minister from any denomination. At the same time, we don't want the mayor, judge, etc because we want someone who knows US and what we believe. During the planning for our wedding, I discovered there really isn't any other option for people who don't want a minister. Since I got ordained, I have spoken with several people who are glad to have this option available and I've got a couple weddings booked for this year and one for next year already.

    J's cousin will be marrying us...she's perfect for us, we know she'll bring her own personality to the ceremony, and we like having someone who means something to us being able to marry us.

    ETA: The going rate for an officiant in our area is $50 :) and there was no charge for getting ordained.


    The OP specifically metioned cost and saving money.


    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • edited July 2013
    daria24 said:
    It varies but COUNTY, not just state. Online ordinations are not recognized at ALL in PA, for example. But in other states, there are certain counties that don't recognize them, while others do.

    You need to call the county clerk for the county that you are getting married in (not where you will be living) and ask them.


    Actually- in PA they are  recognized (at this point). The only place i heard of it maybe being an issue was York county, in a 2007 case the judge ruled that a marriage was invalid due to the officiant having no church- but this was a divorce case, and a marriage license was already issued. Many people since then have used this option and were issues valid licenses
     We are self-uniting, its a  historically Quaker and is pretty specific to Pa, but I think I read that WI may have something close. Also in 2007 a judge ruled that the "Quaker" license had to be issued to anyone who requested it, as the state has no right to ask anyone's religion.

    As far as price, I think the going rate is $200-600 for a basic 20 min service. No thank you, I will write it myself have a friend do it for just the cost of a license.
  • Per Wiki- Wi does allow it, however the marriage may not be recognized??? not sure what this means http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-uniting_marriage
  • we were looking at just getting a minister/officiant to just do the ceremony, and it would still have been at least $400-$525 were the quotations we received.... we're getting married in the Botanical Gardens, and both have different religious backgrounds and just wanted to stick to something non-denominational to lessen the complications of going through classes or having to become a member of a church.
  • Thank you all for your input!  I greatly appreciate it!! :)

  • Actually- in PA they are  recognized (at this point). The only place i heard of it maybe being an issue was York county, in a 2007 case the judge ruled that a marriage was invalid due to the officiant having no church- but this was a divorce case, and a marriage license was already issued. Many people since then have used this option and were issues valid licenses
     We are self-uniting, its a  historically Quaker and is pretty specific to Pa, but I think I read that WI may have something close. Also in 2007 a judge ruled that the "Quaker" license had to be issued to anyone who requested it, as the state has no right to ask anyone's religion.

    As far as price, I think the going rate is $200-600 for a basic 20 min service. No thank you, I will write it myself have a friend do it for just the cost of a license.


    Actually the law states that any minister of an "established" Church in Pa may perform a marriage. While individual judges have ruled as to what "established" means, if you ask the actually county clerk in PA (and we asked at least 6 counties) they may tell you that they do not recognize online ordinations. Bucks County may recognize them, but they also refuse to issue self-uniting licenses, which are also the laws of the state. So it really is county by county. But the state's official policy is not to recognize any religious officials that don't have a physical location in PA.

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    PrettyGirlLost
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
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    daria24 said:
    It varies but COUNTY, not just state. Online ordinations are not recognized at ALL in PA, for example. But in other states, there are certain counties that don't recognize them, while others do.

    You need to call the county clerk for the county that you are getting married in (not where you will be living) and ask them.


    Actually- in PA they are  recognized (at this point). The only place i heard of it maybe being an issue was York county, in a 2007 case the judge ruled that a marriage was invalid due to the officiant having no church- but this was a divorce case, and a marriage license was already issued. Many people since then have used this option and were issues valid licenses
     We are self-uniting, its a  historically Quaker and is pretty specific to Pa, but I think I read that WI may have something close. Also in 2007 a judge ruled that the "Quaker" license had to be issued to anyone who requested it, as the state has no right to ask anyone's religion.

     I don't believe a self ordained minister can legally marry ppl in PA. From: http://www.themonastery.org/tools/wedding_laws/?wide=usa&narrow=pennsylvania

    "Pennsylvania is unfortunately one of three states in the United States which generally does not accept our ordination. This means that a person who becomes an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church in order to be a wedding officiant will have difficulties filing for a marriage license in most of Pennsylvania, even though they can officiate wedding ceremonies to their heart’s content in 47 other US states. The only county in Pennsylvania which generally DOES accept the ULC ordination is Bucks County in the southwestern corner of the state."

    And the state law:

    1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages. (a) General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part: 1. A justice, judge or district justice of this Commonwealth. 2. A former or retired justice, judge or district justice of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior district justice as provided or prescribed by law. 3. An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania. 4. An active or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth. 5. A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth. 6. A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation. (b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization. (c) Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Just curious, but how expensive can having an actual minister be?

    My friend was looking for a JOP in WI a couple years ago and it was anywhere from $100 to $500 plus travel, food and some required a hotel no matter where they drove from, even if they were in the same town as the wedding. I ended up finding a Wiccan Priestess that lived in the same town as the wedding and charged $50. My priest charges $350, normally but we haven't discussed prices or anything yet as we have over year still.

    You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. - Barbara DeAngelis


  • daria24 said:
    It varies but COUNTY, not just state. Online ordinations are not recognized at ALL in PA, for example. But in other states, there are certain counties that don't recognize them, while others do.

    You need to call the county clerk for the county that you are getting married in (not where you will be living) and ask them.


    Actually- in PA they are  recognized (at this point). The only place i heard of it maybe being an issue was York county, in a 2007 case the judge ruled that a marriage was invalid due to the officiant having no church- but this was a divorce case, and a marriage license was already issued. Many people since then have used this option and were issues valid licenses
     We are self-uniting, its a  historically Quaker and is pretty specific to Pa, but I think I read that WI may have something close. Also in 2007 a judge ruled that the "Quaker" license had to be issued to anyone who requested it, as the state has no right to ask anyone's religion.

     I don't believe a self ordained minister can legally marry ppl in PA. From: http://www.themonastery.org/tools/wedding_laws/?wide=usa&narrow=pennsylvania

    "Pennsylvania is unfortunately one of three states in the United States which generally does not accept our ordination. This means that a person who becomes an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church in order to be a wedding officiant will have difficulties filing for a marriage license in most of Pennsylvania, even though they can officiate wedding ceremonies to their heart’s content in 47 other US states. The only county in Pennsylvania which generally DOES accept the ULC ordination is Bucks County in the southwestern corner of the state."

    And the state law:

    1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages. (a) General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part: 1. A justice, judge or district justice of this Commonwealth. 2. A former or retired justice, judge or district justice of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior district justice as provided or prescribed by law. 3. An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania. 4. An active or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth. 5. A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth. 6. A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation. (b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization. (c) Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.
    So what about all the people who are doing it? Are they just not married? The majority of my friends have gone this route and they have all received valid licenses.
  • daria24daria24 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited July 2013
     I don't believe a self ordained minister can legally marry ppl in PA. From: http://www.themonastery.org/tools/wedding_laws/?wide=usa&narrow=pennsylvania

    "Pennsylvania is unfortunately one of three states in the United States
    which generally does not accept our ordination. This means that a person
    who becomes an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church in
    order to be a wedding officiant will have difficulties filing for a
    marriage license in most of Pennsylvania, even though they can officiate
    wedding ceremonies to their heart’s content in 47 other US states. The
    only county in Pennsylvania which generally DOES accept the ULC
    ordination is Bucks County in the southwestern corner of the state."

    And the state law:

    1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages. (a) General rule.--The
    following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that
    produce a marriage license issued under this part: 1. A justice, judge
    or district justice of this Commonwealth. 2. A former or retired
    justice, judge or district justice of this Commonwealth who is serving
    as a senior judge or senior district justice as provided or prescribed
    by law. 3. An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the
    District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western
    District of Pennsylvania. 4. An active or senior judge of the United
    States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this
    Commonwealth. 5. A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth. 6.
    A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or
    congregation. (b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society,
    religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may
    join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a
    member of the society, institution or organization, according to the
    rules and customs of the society, institution or organization. (c)
    Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious
    organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a
    marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license
    issued under this part.




    So what about all the people who are doing it? Are they just not married? The majority of my friends have gone this route and they have all received valid licenses.


    When you apply for your marriage license, it's not like they ask you for the qualifications of the person performing the ceremony. As long as you meet the requirements (ie minimum age, Present ID, etc) you will be issued a license.

    The risk you take with an online ordination in PA is that if you divorce, one party can claim you were never married because an online minister performed the ceremony, and the individual judge can interpret the PA law as he/she sees fit. Or say your spouse passes away or falls ill, your ILs can sue to have your rights as a spouse revoked because you were not married, etc. The validity of your marriage does not come into question until another legal matter arises. It's not like one day someone knocks on your door to say you aren't married anymore.
    image
    [Deleted User]NOLAbridealmostPrettyGirlLostKeptInStitches
  • We live in PA and were initially going to ask a friend to get ordained online, but after doing a little research, I was concerned about how that would affect the validity of our marriage. So we went with the self-uniting license (available only in PA and CO, I believe). My fiancé is Quaker and we're having a Quaker ceremony, so it's a nice nod to his heritage.

    When I first researched the Universal Life Church, their website had information about where their ordination is legal, so I'd start there. But also call the county where you'll be getting your license to check with them!
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
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    So what about all the people who are doing it? Are they just not married? The majority of my friends have gone this route and they have all received valid licenses.
    Nope, probably not legally valid.

    If the Universal Life Church states on it's own website that PA doesn't accept their ordinations, then I personally wouldn't risk it.

    Don't go by what your friends did.  Call your county office in PA since you have to get a marriage license anyways and ask them if these self ordinations are legally valid in your county.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Here's some info from American Marriage Ministries regarding PA. 


    Marriage laws in PA

    ~*~June 21, 2014~*~


  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
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    CheleLyn said:
    Here's some info from American Marriage Ministries regarding PA. 


    Marriage laws in PA

    I already posted the PA marriage law above.

    Again, I would not risk the validity of my marriage solely on information on websites that provide ordination services.  Call the county office for the county you are getting married in and ask them directly.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Yes, but wasn't there also a 2009 suit in Bucks which the judge ruled it was a valid case.. perhaps its only in bucks county, where they are recognized.  http://www.ulccaselaw.com/legalPDF/Bucks-county-valid-ulc-marriage.pdf


  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Yes, but wasn't there also a 2009 suit in Bucks which the judge ruled it was a valid case.. perhaps its only in bucks county, where they are recognized.  http://www.ulccaselaw.com/legalPDF/Bucks-county-valid-ulc-marriage.pdf


    Cheapbride, I just wouldn't risk it.  That Bucks county ruling and another in York PA are not finalized.

    Again, call your county office and confirm.  But chances are the answer is that no, you can't use ppl randomly ordained online and have a legally valid marriage in PA, sorry :/

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Dear lord, do not leave the legitimacy of your wedding up to a google search!  CALL the county clerk and ask them directly.

    For the record, it's not just in cases of divorce that you can have a problem if you aren't legally married.  In case of death, you can be charged an inheritance tax, in case of hospitalization, you can be stripped of visitation and decision-making rights, etc.  You can also be convicted of tax fraud and employer fraud if you pay taxes jointly or have your spouse on your company benefits.  It's just not worth it to dick around with something like that.
    Exactly :-)

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • @Bubblegum---can I ask you WHICH online service you used?? Universal LIfe Church?  American Marriage Ministries??
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