American marriage laws are confusing; they vary greatly from state to state - and even from county to county in some states - and can be subject to spontaneous and arbitrary changes if a judge or attorney general decides to go against jurisprudence. In fact, the mosaic of American marriage laws - the pieces of legislation that determine the legality of online ordinations like ours - are so difficult to keep track of that even the Universal Life Church, an organization that specializes in helping men and women from around the world become legally-recognized wedding officiants, has a very hard time keeping up-to-date records on them.
All of the above being said, it is more than understandable that Universal Life Church ministers will occasionally run into difficulties when they try to acquire permission to perform a wedding from county clerks' offices. If people who become ministers online do not research whether or not their ordination is accepted in the county where the marriage licenses is to be filed, or what documentation they need in order to successfully acquire said marriage license, it is inevitable that problems will arise.
Whenever you - or someone you know - is planning on performing a wedding ceremony using a ULC ordination, make absolutely sure you/they complete the following steps:
FIRST: The wedding officiant should contact the county clerk of the county where the marriage license is to be filed (preferably doing so over the phone) to verify that the ULC ordination is in fact accepted in said county.
SECOND: As soon as the county clerk has confirmed that the ULC ordination is accepted in their office, the wedding officiant MUST then ask what documentation they will need in order to file for the marriage license. Fortunately, most states only require wedding officiants to present an ordination credential to demonstrate their ministerial status. There are a couple of states, like Ohio and Wisconsin, that have very stringent requirements and demand to see several discrete and highly-specific documents before a marriage license will be issued.
THIRD: The wedding officiant should visit our site, the homepage of the Universal Life Church, to order the documentation that the aforementioned county clerk will require of them. If a state or county requires a wedding officiant who became ordained online to present something - from credentials, to affidavits, to letters of good standing - in order to file for a marriage license, our "Minister Store" section will carry it. We even offer packages specifically tailored for places like Las Vegas and New York City that contain all of the documentation a ULC minister needs to perform wedding ceremonies there.
Failure to follow the above three steps could easily result in the marriage failing to receive official legal recognition; this will cause the wedding to be a waste of all parties' time, effort, and money, not to mention a massive headache for the wedding officiant and the couple.
PLEASE NOTE that the information we provide above could have changed by the time you read this. Do not take any of this information for granted, or it could end up coming back to bite you and the entire wedding party.
Visit our site for more information about the Universal Life Church, to become legally ordained online for free and for life, or to order ministerial products. Please contact us to inquire about any of the information contained in this article.