How to get Ordained in Iowa to Officiate

Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.

Welcome to the ULC marriage laws guide for the state of Iowa. Officiating a wedding is a great honor, but overseeing such an important ceremony also comes with great responsibility. That's why we've created this page - to provide instruction to couples and ministers alike. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the big day, we encourage you to follow the guide below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Iowa.

Here are the basic steps for officiating a wedding:

  1. Getting Ordained in Iowa

    Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is the first step (if you've not yet done so). Our online ordination process is simple, fast, and entirely free. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages in Iowa each year. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Click the button below to get started.

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in Iowa

    Next, you'll need to contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will be held. Identify yourself as a minister and ask what documents officials will need to see from you. You may be asked to provide a number of items to verify your ordination status. Be aware, however, that these requirements often vary from county to county (which is why it's best to contact officials beforehand). Any documents or materials you might require are available in the Minister Store here on our site.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. Iowa Wedding Officiant Requirements

    Once you've spoken with county marriage officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. Most ministers in Iowa choose to order the Classic Wedding Set. Although minister registration is generally not required in Iowa, it's not uncommon for county officials to ask for proof of your ordination before giving the "green light" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, the couple will be more comfortable knowing that their wedding minister has all the official documents, like an ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by Iowa officials, please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.

  4. How to Get a Iowa Marriage License

    In Iowa, marriage licenses are issued by the County Registrar or Recorder's office. It is required that the couple pick up the license. However, ministers should also have a solid understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Iowa and its individual counties. Let's say the couple is planning to get a Polk County marriage license, for example. As the minister, you ought to double-check if there are any specific rules for getting married in Polk County that the couple might not know about.

    In Iowa, marriage licenses never expire, but they must be picked up from the county marriage office within six months from the date of application. Note that there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period, not including the date of application - this means that the couple must wait a minimum of 4 days after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 15 days.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    Once all the paperwork is in order, it's time to perform the wedding! If you need any guidance in this area, don't hesitate to check out the tools linked below. These carefully-tailored resources provide insight and advice on all aspects of officiating a wedding ceremony. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, they'll help you to plan the perfect ceremony. Many ULC ministers have used these same resources for guidance when becoming professional officiants!

  6. Signing the Marriage License in Iowa

    Now there's just one final step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple and one witness). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational". If prompted for an address of ministry, put your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC. Lastly, remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!

Iowa Marriage Laws

State Flag Of Iowa

Iowa marriage laws are governed by Chapter 595 of Title 15 of the state code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Iowa. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:

Universal Citation: IA Code § 595.3 (2019) 595.3 License.

Previous to the solemnization of any marriage, a license for that purpose must be obtained from the county registrar. The license must not be granted in any case:

  1. Where either party is under the age necessary to render the marriage valid.

  2. Where either party is under eighteen years of age, unless the marriage is approved by a judge of the district court as provided by section 595.2.

  3. Where either party is disqualified from making any civil contract.

  4. Where the parties are within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity in which marriages are prohibited by law.

  5. Where either party is a ward under a guardianship and the court has made a finding that the ward lacks the capacity to contract a valid marriage.

View the Iowa Statutes on the official government state website.

Is it Legal For You to Perform a Iowa Wedding?

Review the Marriage Law

Want to Learn More about Ministry in Iowa?

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