Pennsylvania-Central

Self Uniting Marriage License

Hello brides,

My fiance and I are getting married in July and do not want a religious ceremony. My original plan was to have my friend ordained online and perform the ceremony, but I recently heard that Pennsylvania does not recognize officiants who have been ordained online. I've heard that Pennsylvania has a self-uniting marriage license where no officiant is required. Does anyone have this type of marriage license? How easy was it to get and is it just as legal as a regular marriage license? I am from Berks County and would love to have a marriage license from there, but I would be open to having a marriage license from another county. Thanks!

Re: Self Uniting Marriage License

  • Yes, PA does not recognize online ordination.

    I had a self-uniting ceremony. We got our license in Chester County (wedding was in Lancaster, but we knew we wouldn't have an issue in Chester County). I did a lot of research, it seems like people don't have trouble in Philadelphia, Chester County, and Dauphin. Bucks County and Delaware Counties both are hopeless. 

    I would call the Berks clerk and ask about the process for getting a self-uniting license. Depending on how they answer, you will get an indication of whether it will be hard to get the license there (ie if they ask you if you are Quaker-which is illegal-I wouldn't go there). You can always try going to Berks at least a week ahead of time, and if you get denied, go to another county. If you have any other questions feel free to PM me! It was truly the best part of our wedding day, I can't recommend doing it enough!
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  • Thanks so much for your help! I lived in Chester County for a few years so I wouldn't be opposed to getting my license there if I had to. Good to know I won't have to go through the fiasco of finding and paying an officiant!
  • kimberlyr22kimberlyr22
    100 Comments
    member
    edited January 2013
    The price of officiants in this area is really making couples who don't have a relationship with a minister/pastor/rabbi, etc., or who aren't religious, look long and hard at the self-uniting option. 

    I balked at the $400-$700 price for a 20 minute ceremony.  We were originally going to go the self-uniting route, but got looks of horror from our parents and grandparents (which we couldn't overlook), so we ended up using a former mayor who didn't charge a set price. Robb Green was great and I don't think I could have found a better officiant in the area, but we have the perfect friend who would have been awesome leading the ceremony and sometimes I regret not going with my original instinct.  It would have been nice to have someone who knows us lead the ceremony.

    Good luck!
    photo KimberlyWedding_zps9ece9155.jpg
  • I am doing a self uniting wedding in July also!!! I am getting married in York county( I still have to call them to see how easy it will be to get) I have a friend who got a self uniting marriage license in York. My parents got their self uniting license in Lancaster.

    What day are you getting married btw?!?

    Good luck!
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  • In Response to Re: Self Uniting Marriage License:
    I am doing a self uniting wedding in July also!!! I am getting married in York county( I still have to call them to see how easy it will be to get) I have a friend who got a self uniting marriage license in York. My parents got their self uniting license in Lancaster. What day are you getting married btw?!? Good luck!
    Posted by NateandJustine
    July 6th in Reading. Sooner than I am prepared for!
  • That's exciting!! Good Luck!
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  • In Response to Self Uniting Marriage License:
    Posted by cojodo83[/QUOTE]


    t is actually not true that PA does not recognize people who have been ordained online.  Like the "self uniting" marriage license, it varies from county to county.  PA State Law says that "any ordained minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation, Judges, and Justices of Peace may perform wedding ceremonies.  Mayors of the cities and boroughs are also authorized to perform marriage ceremonies."  However, if you go to each individual county they each have their own requirements and beliefs about it.  (Makes it kind of tricky.)  In Chester County, which is where I'm from, it says "Pennsylvania has no provision for the registration of officiants to perform marriages. Selections of and arrangements for an Officiant to perform the marriage ceremony are the responsibility of the applicants."  Apparently places like York county have found marriages to be invalid if officated by someone ordained online, but other places likes Chester County don't really seem to care.  My friend was married last year and had a friend of her and her husbands officiate for them.  It has only been about a year and a half but they have had no issues so far.  I've also read online that Chester County has never had an issue with this is the past either.  I am getting married in York, PA, but getting out license in Chester County so we will hopefully not run into any issues.  We are having my brother marry us.  Also, I have heard that the self uniting marriage licenses are just as iffy as having someone else ordained.  A lot of people have run into issues with them, but im sure in Chester County you would be fine.  They seem more laid back.  Good luck!
  • Codojo83-

    I am curious if you ever got your self-uniting license from Berks County and how it went? I live in Philadelphia county but getting married in Berks county. From what I've read, I will have no problem getting a self-uniting license in Philadelphia, but then I believe I have to file it with Berks County, and Im nervous that wont be sufficient. When I called the clerks office last week, I didnt specifically ask about self-uniting, but she did ask me who was marrying us and emailed me a disclaimer about internet ordained-ministers. Im getting married in under a month and paying an officient now will be costly at the last minute!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 
    Thanks!!
    Rachel 
    Christy0710
  • I'm getting married in Berks County and I am looking into a self-uniting ceremony. My sister in law did it in Philadelphia and it was awesome and they had no problems. When I called the clerks office in Berks County they just said when we go to get our marriage license that we need to specify it's for a quaker self uniting marriage. I would love to hear your outcome :) Happy Wedding Planning!!!
  • rnewman13 said:
    Codojo83-

    I am curious if you ever got your self-uniting license from Berks County and how it went? I live in Philadelphia county but getting married in Berks county. From what I've read, I will have no problem getting a self-uniting license in Philadelphia, but then I believe I have to file it with Berks County, and Im nervous that wont be sufficient. When I called the clerks office last week, I didnt specifically ask about self-uniting, but she did ask me who was marrying us and emailed me a disclaimer about internet ordained-ministers. Im getting married in under a month and paying an officient now will be costly at the last minute!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 
    Thanks!!
    Rachel 

    You file your marriage license with the same county that you applied for it in. And you can just mail it in. So that isn't an issue. You can apply for a marriage license in any county in PA, it doesn't matter which county your ceremony is taking place. So if you are really that concerned about it, just get your license in Philadelphia. I think Berks is cheaper though! 
    image
  • I'm been married for a couple of years now and we did a self-uniting ceremony too. We had our friend "marry" us at the ceremony. We got our license in Philadelphia (SUPER easy, just costs $10 more), but we got married in Lancaster. Good luck ladies! 
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