Alabama Wedding Laws
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the Alabama marriage laws guide! Officiating a wedding is an incredible honor, but presiding also comes with plenty of responsibility - which is why we have prepared this comprehensive guide to help you along the way. We'll explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and give you all of the tools necessary to make the wedding ceremony legal in Alabama. Useful for both couples and ministers, following these step-by-step instructions will ensure everything goes according to plan on the big day.
Here are the steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Alabama
Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages in Alabama each year. If you haven't already done so, the first step is to become a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church. Unlike most religious organizations, our online ordination process is quick, easy, and completely free. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Click the ordination link below to begin.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Alabama
Next, you'll need to contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will take place. Identify yourself as a minister and inquire about what documents the officials will need to see from you. You may be asked to show 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 website.
Select a county to see contact information for each office:
What Do You Need to Officiate a Wedding in Alabama
Once you have taken the time to speak with a county marriage official, go back to our site, log in to your account, and obtain the required materials. In order to ensure compliance, most ULC ministers in Alabama choose to order a Classic Wedding Set and add an Official Letter of Good Standing.
In general, ministers are not required to register on a state level in Alabama. That being said, county marriage officials have been known to request proof of ordination before giving the "go-ahead" to perform marriage ceremonies. It also gives the couple peace of mind to know that their wedding minister has all the official documents, such as the ordination certificate, on hand. We recommend ordering your materials well in advance of the ceremony to avoid unexpected hiccups.
How to Get a Alabama Marriage License
In Alabama, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office. Although it will be the couple's job to get the license, it's the minister's responsibility to understand the rules governing marriage licenses in Alabama and its specific counties. Let's say, for example, that the couple is planning to get a Jefferson County marriage license. As the minister, you should check and see if there are any special regulations in Jefferson County that the couple may be unaware of.
In Alabama, marriage licenses are valid for 30 days. Note that there is no mandatory waiting period - meaning the ceremony can be legally performed as soon as the license is received. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned to this issuing office before expiration.
Alabama's Top Wedding Venue
How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
Once all the paperwork is in order, you're ready to perform the wedding! If you need any guidance in this area, don't hesitate to utilize the tools found below. These carefully-tailored resources provide helpful tips and information on all aspects of performing a wedding ceremony. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, they contain everything you'll need to plan the perfect ceremony.
Many ULC ministers have used these resources as guidance when becoming professional officiants!
Finalizing the Marriage
The last and final step - After you have performed the wedding, you will need to sign the marriage license along with the couple. Your official title is "Minister"; for the ceremony type, put "Religious"; for denomination you will write "Non-Denominational".
If the license prompts you to list an address of ministry, provide your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of the ULC headquarters. Lastly, make sure that the license is turned in to the county clerk's office before the deadline!
Alabama Marriage Laws
Alabama marriage laws are governed by Section 30-1 of the state code. This section shows which persons are legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Alabama. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
Alabama Code - Section 30-1-7: PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO SOLEMNIZE MARRIAGES
(a) Generally. Marriages may be solemnized by any licensed minister of the gospel in regular communion with the Christian church or society of which the minister is a member; by an active or retired judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, any circuit court, or any district court within this state; by a judge of any federal court; or by an active or retired judge of probate.
(b) Pastor of religious society; clerk of society to maintain register of marriages; register, etc., deemed presumptive evidence of fact. Marriage may also be solemnized by the pastor of any religious society according to the rules ordained or custom established by such society. The clerk or keeper of the minutes of each society shall keep a register and enter therein a particular account of all marriages solemnized by the society, which register, or a sworn copy thereof, is presumptive evidence of the fact.
(c) Quakers, Mennonites, or other religious societies. The people called Mennonites, Quakers, or any other Christian society having similar rules or regulations, may solemnize marriage according to their forms by consent of the parties, published and declared before the congregation assembled for public worship.
- See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/alcode/30/1/30-1-7#sthash.AFDc8iQ9.dpuf