Universal Life Church

Georgia Wedding Laws

For a wedding in Georgia to be legally binding, the couple and officiant must be sure to comply with a slew of state-specific rules and requirements. Of course, planning a wedding is enough work already, so we’ve gathered all of the relevant legal requirements into one, easy-to-follow roadmap to a valid Georgia wedding. Our guide walks couples and officiants step-by-step through all the essential deadlines and necessary paperwork to ensure that the marriage is legitimate in accordance with Georgia law.

Getting Married in Georgia

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes

A wedding is a deeply personal ceremony joining the lives of two individuals. As such, the state of Georgia allows couples and officiants plenty of leeway to customize the contents of the wedding ceremony to fit their personal wishes and beliefs. To be legally valid, a Georgia wedding need only meet four basic requirements:

Each partner must proclaim his or her consent to be married, such as saying, “I do.”

The officiant must make some sort of declaration that the couple is legally wed, such as “I now pronounce you….”

Both partners and the minister must be physically present for the entire ceremony; Georgia law does not allow marriage by proxy.

At least two witnesses must be physically present for the entire ceremony and must be able to sign the marriage license after the ceremony.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-4. Nature of consent required

    To constitute an actual contract of marriage, the parties must consent thereto voluntarily without any fraud practiced upon either. Drunkenness at the time of marriage, brought about by art or contrivance to induce consent shall be held as fraud.

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-63. Construction of marriage contract; attestation

    Every marriage contract in writing, made in contemplation of marriage, shall be liberally construed to carry into effect the intention of the parties, and no want of form or technical expression shall invalidate the same. Such marriage contract shall be in writing, signed by both parties who agree to be bound, and attested by at least two witnesses, one of whom shall be a notary public.

Georgia Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 17 with Proof of Emancipation
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

Like all U.S. states, Georgia recognizes that same-sex couples have the same right to marry like all other couples. Georgia marriage laws do not discriminate based upon race, religion, gender, or orientation; the only requirement is that both partners be at least 18 years of age. Legally emancipated minors who are at least 17 years old may also get married in Georgia, though they must have proof of emancipation.

Georgia does not have a residency requirement, meaning that neither partner must live in Georgia or even in the United States. That said, some marriage requirements in Georgia are different depending on whether a person resides in Georgia or lives out of state. For example, Georgia residents may apply for a marriage license in their county of residence, or in any other Georgia county; out-of-state couples must apply in the county where the wedding ceremony will take place.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-2. Who may contract marriage; emancipation requirement; minimum age for marriage

    (a) To be able to contract marriage, a person must:

    (1) Be of sound mind;

    (2) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, be at least 18 years of age;

    (3) Have no living spouse of a previous undissolved marriage. The dissolution of a previous marriage in divorce proceedings must be affirmatively established and will not be presumed. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to affect the legitimacy of children; and

    (4) Not be related to the prospective spouse by blood or marriage within the prohibited degrees.

    (b) If either applicant for marriage is 17 years of age, documentary proof that such applicant was emancipated by operation of law or pursuant to a petition filed with the court as provided in Article 10 of Chapter 11 of Title 15 shall be required before a license may be issued pursuant to Article 2 of this chapter; provided, in addition, that:

    (1) If the emancipation was pursuant to a petition filed with the court, a certified copy of the order providing for the emancipation shall be provided as documentary proof;

    (2) At least 15 days shall have passed since such emancipation shall have occurred by operation of law or pursuant to a petition filed with the court;

    (3) The older party to the marriage contract shall not be more than four years older than the younger party to the marriage contract; and

    (4) Each party to the marriage contract who is 17 years of age shall present a certificate of completion of premarital education as provided under Code Section 19-3-30.1.

    (c) No license provided for under Article 2 of this chapter shall be issued for the marriage of any party who is under 17 years of age.

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-3. Degrees of relationship within which intermarriage prohibited; penalty; effect of prohibited marriage

    (a) Any person who marries a person to whom he knows he is related, either by blood or by marriage, as follows:

    (1) Father and daughter or stepdaughter;

    (2) Mother and son or stepson;

    (3) Brother and sister of the whole blood or the half blood;

    (4) Grandparent and grandchild;

    (5) Aunt and nephew; or

    (6) Uncle and niece

    shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years.

    (b) Marriages declared to be unlawful under subsection (a) of this Code section shall be void from their inception.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Georgia

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

Georgia law requires that a minister be at least 18 years old to officiate a wedding ceremony. There are no legal restrictions on beliefs, church membership, or gender, and the minister does not need to be a Georgia resident.

Because the marriage license requirements vary so much among Georgia counties, the minister should check with the county where the couple’s marriage license was issued to see if he or she will need to submit any documentation with the completed marriage license. As a general best practice, the minister should have a copy of his or her ordination credentials on hand during the ceremony, just in case.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-30. Issuance, return, and recording of license

    (c) The license shall be directed to the Governor or any former Governor of this state, any judge, including judges of state and federal courts of record in this state, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other person of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony; such license shall authorize the marriage of the persons therein named and require the Governor or any former Governor of this state, judge, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other authorized person to return the license to the judge of the probate court with the certificate thereon as to the fact and date of marriage within 30 days after the date of the marriage. The license with the return thereon shall be recorded by the judge in a book kept by such judge for that purpose.

Applying For a Marriage License in Georgia

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
Varies by County
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 30 Days of Ceremony

Georgia does not have a waiting period, and a couple can get married on the same day they apply for the marriage license. The time period in which the wedding ceremony must take place after the marriage license is issued is not uniform across Georgia and varies depending on the issuing county. Couples should be sure to check with the issuing office to make sure the ceremony will be considered timely, according to that office. In all Georgia counties, the completed marriage license must be returned to the county where it was issued within 30 days after the wedding ceremony to be valid.

Couples should be sure that their marriage license is the type that may be solemnized by a “religious ceremony,” as opposed to a civil ceremony conducted by a justice of the peace. ULC ministers are authorized to conduct legally binding wedding ceremonies in Georgia based on their ordination by the Universal Life Church, which is classified as a religious organization under the law. There is no requirement that the couple or minister ascribe to any particular religious beliefs, and neither the couple nor the minister is required to include any religious elements or references to religion in the wedding ceremony.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-30. Issuance, return, and recording of license

    (c) The license shall be directed to the Governor or any former Governor of this state, any judge, including judges of state and federal courts of record in this state, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other person of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony; such license shall authorize the marriage of the persons therein named and require the Governor or any former Governor of this state, judge, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other authorized person to return the license to the judge of the probate court with the certificate thereon as to the fact and date of marriage within 30 days after the date of the marriage. The license with the return thereon shall be recorded by the judge in a book kept by such judge for that purpose.

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-35. Issuance of license to applicants otherwise eligible

    When both applicants for a marriage license are eligible to receive that license pursuant to the other provisions of this chapter and that license is otherwise authorized to be issued pursuant to the other provisions of this chapter, that license may be issued immediately and without any waiting period.

How to Get a Georgia Marriage License

Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

For purposes of Georgia’s marriage laws, if either member of the betrothed couple is a Georgia resident, the couple is considered to be “in-state” under Georgia law. A couple is classified as “out-of-state” only if neither partner is a Georgia resident.

All couples are required to appear in person in the office of a Georgia County Clerk to apply for a marriage license. In-state couples may apply in any Georgia county; their wedding ceremony may take place in any Georgia county and is not restricted to the county that issued the marriage license. Out-of-state couples must apply in the county where the wedding ceremony will be held; their wedding must take place within the issuing county for the marriage to be valid.

When a couple appears to apply for a marriage license, both people must present valid proof of age. A photo identification is not required, but each person must present one of the following forms of identification:

armed forces identification card (or discharge papers)

baptismal certificate

birth certificate (or certificate of birth registration)

certified court record

driver’s license

hospital admission card with full name and date of birth

immigration, alien or citizenship papers

passport

selective service card

If either partner has been married previously, the clerk may request proof that any previous marriage was properly terminated. This can be either a certified copy of the divorce decree or a certified copy of the prior spouse’s death certificate. This requirement varies from county to county, so the couple should check with the clerk’s office in the county where they will apply, or plan to bring this paperwork just in case.

Blood testing is not required for either partner. The couple will need to pay an application fee, which varies from county to county. Some counties also charge a small filing fee.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-2. Who may contract marriage; emancipation requirement; minimum age for marriage

    (3) Have no living spouse of a previous undissolved marriage. The dissolution of a previous marriage in divorce proceedings must be affirmatively established and will not be presumed. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to affect the legitimacy of children; and

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-30. Issuance, return, and recording of license

    (b) (2) If one of the persons to be married is a resident of this state, the license may be issued in any county of this state. If neither the male nor the female to be married is a resident of this state, the license shall be issued in the county in which the ceremony is to be performed.

    Ga. Code Ann. § 19-3-36. Proof of age of applicants

    The judge of the probate court to whom the application for a marriage license is made shall satisfy himself or herself that the provisions set forth in Code Section 19-3-2 regarding age limitations are met. The judge shall require all applicants to furnish the court with documentary evidence of proof of age in the form of a birth certificate, driver's license, baptismal certificate, certificate of birth registration, selective service card, court record, passport, immigration papers, alien papers, citizenship papers, armed forces discharge papers, armed forces identification card, or hospital admission card containing the full name and date of birth. Applicants who have satisfactorily proved that they have reached the age of majority may be issued a marriage license immediately.

Finalizing the Union

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

A minister must be at least 18 years old to conduct a legally valid wedding ceremony in the state of Utah. The state does not place any restrictions on a minister’s beliefs, gender, or residence.

The minister should check with the clerk’s office in the county which issued the couple’s marriage license to find out whether he or she should submit additional documents with the completed marriage license. Some counties require ministers to provide copies of ordination documents included with ULC’s Classic Wedding Package. We recommend that ministers have these documents on hand when officiating any wedding or other ceremony.