How to get Ordained in Wisconsin to Officiate
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the Wisconsin marriage laws guide. Officiating a wedding can be an incredible honor, but it's also an awfully big job. This is why we've created this page - to provide guidance to both couples and ordained ministers alike. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the big day, we encourage you to review the steps below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Wisconsin.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
Getting Ordained in Wisconsin
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is a lot easier than you might think. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and completely free. We don't believe in installing artificial barriers between you and your spiritual life. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages and other ceremonies each year. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Simply click on the button below to get started.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Wisconsin
Before you begin, we advise that you contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will take place. Identify yourself as a minister and ask what documents you will need to provide to the officials. You may be asked to show numerous items to verify that your ordination status is valid. Please take note, however, that these requirements often vary from county to county (which is why we recommend contacting officials beforehand). Any documents or materials you might require can be found in the Minister Store here on our site.
Select a county to see contact information for each office:
Wisconsin Wedding Officiant Requirements
As soon as you've spoken with your county's marriage officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. Based on feedback from our ministers in Wisconsin, we recommend picking up a Classic Wedding Set.
In general, ministers are not required to register in the state of Wisconsin. That being said, it's not entirely uncommon for the county clerk to ask for proof of your ordination before giving the "go-ahead" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, it gives the couple peace of mind knowing that their wedding minister has all the proper official documents, like your embossed and signed ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by county officials, we recommend that you please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.
How to Get a Wisconsin Marriage License
In Wisconsin, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office. While it is the couple's responsibility to pick up the license, the minister should have a solid understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Wisconsin and its individual counties. Let's say the couple is planning to get a Milwaukee County marriage license, for example. As the minister, you ought to double-check if there are any specific rules for getting married in Milwaukee County that the couple might not be aware of.
In Wisconsin, marriage licenses are valid for 30 days. Note that there is a mandatory 6-day waiting period - this means that the couple must wait a minimum of 6 days after receiving their license before a ceremony can legally take place. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 3 days.
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How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
Once all the paperwork out of the way, you're finally ready to perform wedding ceremonies! If you need any guidance in this area, please don't hesitate to review the other guides linked below. These carefully-tailored resources provide helpful information and tips on all aspects of performing a successful wedding ceremony and can provide some advanced guidance where necessary. Constructed especially with our wedding officiants in mind, they contain everything you'll need to plan the perfect ceremony.
Many ULC ministers have used these same resources for guidance when becoming professional officiants too!
Signing the Marriage License in Wisconsin
Now there's just one last step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple and their witnesses). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".
For the address of ministry, list your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC's main office. No license number is required. Finally, remember that the signed marriage license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!
Wisconsin Marriage Laws
Wisconsin marriage laws are governed by Chapter 765.16 of the Wisconsin state code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the state of Wisconsin. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
2010 Wisconsin Code Chapter 765. Marriage. 765.05 Marriage license; by whom issued. 765.05
765.05 Marriage license; by whom issued. No person may be joined in marriage within this state until a marriage license has been obtained for that purpose from the county clerk of the county in which one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days immediately prior to making application therefor. If both parties are nonresidents of the state, the marriage license may be obtained from the county clerk of the county where the marriage ceremony is to be performed. If one of the persons is a nonresident of the county where the marriage license is to issue, the nonresident's part of the application may be completed and sworn to or affirmed before the person authorized to accept marriage license applications in the county and state in which the nonresident resides. 765.05 - ANNOT.
History: 1979 c. 32 ss. 48, 92 (2); 1979 c. 89, 176, 177, 355; Stats. 1979 s. 765.05; 1981 c. 20, 142, 314; 1999 a. 85. 765.05 - ANNOT.
Residency requirements are discussed. 80 Atty. Gen. 236. 765.05 - ANNOT.
View the Wisconsin Statutes on the official government state website.