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Virginia

What must happen at a wedding for it to be legally binding in Virginia?

Virginia has some strict laws about who can officiate a wedding ceremony. I did find out that in Fairfax County there is a way for an individual to get a “One Time Civil Marriage” authorization, but they have to be a Fairfax County resident. (it’s much more difficult to get Religious Official authorization, even with an on-line minister license, which seems to be allowed in most other states, because you have to show that you are in ’good standing’ with a religious sect—ie have an actual congregation)

What I need to know is exactly what does a person have to do to make the marriage legal? I have a friend, non-resident, that I want to do the ceremony, but another friend that is a resident and can make the marriage ‘official’. But is there anything in particular that the official friend has to do or say to make it legal? Meaning can the non-official friend do the public ceremony and the official friend sign the paperwork or even have us do some vows privately just to make it legal?
www.fairfaxcounty.gov/courts/circuit/marriage_info.htm" target="_blank" title="Fairfax County Virginia Marriage Information">http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/courts/circuit/marriage_info.htm

Re: What must happen at a wedding for it to be legally binding in Virginia?

  • lizstill13lizstill13 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I would call the clerk of your local court and ask.

    My officiant is from out of state, but she is a reverend where she lives. She has to get special persmission from the court to perform the ceremony, and that's it. But it was complicated to get to that point and her and I had to call the court and ask. They will be best able to tell you what you should do.
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  • edited December 2011
    I have a feeling that they are going to tell me to fill out the proper paperwork, but won't know what exaclty needs to be done durning the ceremony to make it legal. Do you have to say the traditional vows infront of everyone? Can you say, "we are hitched' in front of two witnesses and have it be legal?
  • lizstill13lizstill13 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Technically, I think you just need someone who is authorized by the state to make you swear yourselves to each (in whatever wording you want) and then pronouce you man and wife.

    I guess in your case if you wanted to use one friend not authorized, but another friend that is, you would either need to use the other friend or use both and have one say all the filler, but the authorized one would need to make you swear and pronouce you. Does that make sense?
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  • SSM&JLMSSM&JLM member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Check with the court, but I'm pretty sure the person signing the marriage license must be an approved marriage commissioner for Virginia and/or possibly the particular county.

    For our wedding, the whole license was filled out and given to us before the ceremony began.  Virginia doesn't require witnesses, so it was just the marriage commissioner signing the document.

    So in theory, as long as the person who is an approved marriage commissioner signs the paper and has no problem with someone else doing the ceremony, then I guess it's ok in theory.

    Although it's not that expensive to get approved as a marriage commissioner in virginia, I had a friend do it for another friend's wedding.
  • edited December 2011
    I actually got ordained on-line in order to perform my brother's wedding. I got it from universal church in California. You just buy the package with the ordination certificate and the "letter of good standing" and bring it to the clerk's office. The only thing that it takes is that you guys have a valid marriage license obtained sixty days or less before your wedding. You don't need any witnesses and you have to agree that you want to marry each other in the words that you choose to do so with. Good luck
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