Illinois Wedding Laws
Drafted and last reviewed for accuracy by the Illinois marriage law team at the Universal Life Church Ministries on
Illinois is home to the shores of Lake Michigan, the rivers and forests of the Shawnee Hills, the fertile farmlands of the Plains region, and the cosmopolitan excitement of Chicago. If you want to get married in Illinois, this guide will thoroughly explain the rules and details you need to know in order to ensure that your wedding is legally binding. Whether you are a minister officiating a ceremony in Illinois or a couple planning your wedding there, you will find all the necessary information outlined below.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Illinois
In order to officiate a wedding in Illinois, the person must be at least 18 years old. If that requirement is met, there are a number of officials who qualify as legally acceptable, including an active judge, a retired judge (unless "removed" from office), a mayor or public official, a clerk from a county having a population of at least 2 million, the leader of a Native American nation or tribe, or the head of a religious organization. Universal Life Church ordained ministers are considered religious leaders and so are legally qualified to wed a couple in Illinois.The state does not discriminate with regard to the officiant's gender, residency, or personal beliefs. There is, however, a stipulation that retired judges and mayors are not allowed to charge a fee for conducting the ceremony.
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(a) A marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, by a retired judge of a court of record, unless the retired judge was removed from office by the Judicial Inquiry Board, except that a retired judge shall not receive any compensation from the State, a county or any unit of local government in return for the solemnization of a marriage and there shall be no effect upon any pension benefits conferred by the Judges Retirement System of Illinois, by a judge of the Court of Claims, by a county clerk in counties having 2,000,000 or more inhabitants, by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, by a mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town who is in office on the date of the solemnization, or in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, provided that when such prescriptions require an officiant, the officiant be in good standing with his or her religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group. Either the person solemnizing the marriage, or, if no individual acting alone solemnized the marriage, both parties to the marriage, shall complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the county clerk within 10 days after such marriage is solemnized. A mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town shall not receive any compensation in return for the solemnization of a marriage.
Getting Married in Illinois
The state of Illinois does not dictate the type of ceremony a couple should have, nor does it impose any particular customs or rituals; the law does not even require witnesses to be present. The only ceremonial requirement is that both parties must publicly consent to the marriage before the officiating minister can pronounce them legally wed. While Illinois law does not dictate the specifics of the wedding nuptials, it also does not force a religious organization to host the wedding. This law is meant to provide protection from liability in the event that the institution believes the ceremony violates any of its rules, beliefs, or traditions.
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(a-10) No church, mosque, synagogue, temple, nondenominational ministry, interdenominational or ecumenical organization, mission organization, or other organization whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion is required to provide religious facilities for the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony of a marriage if the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony is in violation of its religious beliefs. An entity identified in this subsection (a-10) shall be immune from any civil, administrative, criminal penalty, claim, or cause of action based on its refusal to provide religious facilities for the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony of a marriage if the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony is in violation of its religious beliefs. As used in this subsection (a-10), "religious facilities" means sanctuaries, parish halls, fellowship halls, and similar facilities. "Religious facilities" does not include facilities such as businesses, health care facilities, educational facilities, or social service agencies.
How to Get a Illinois Marriage License
In order to get a marriage license in Illinois, the couple must complete an application that includes the following information for each individual: name, Social Security number, home address, occupation, sex, date of birth, and place of birth. They are also required to pay a fee for the license; since the amount of the fee varies from county to county, an inquiry with the applicable clerk should be made.The couple should submit the application and pay the fee directly to the clerk of the county in which they plan to marry. They also need to disclose whether they are related or whether they have been previously married. If either party has been married within the past six months, a divorce decree must be produced.
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Sec. 203. License to Marry. When a marriage application has been completed and signed by both parties to a prospective marriage and both parties have appeared before the county clerk and the marriage license fee has been paid, the county clerk shall issue a license to marry and a marriage certificate form upon being furnished:
(1) satisfactory proof that each party to the marriage will have attained the age of 18 years at the time the marriage license is effective or will have attained the age of 16 years and has either the consent to the marriage of both parents or his guardian or judicial approval; provided, if one parent cannot be located in order to obtain such consent and diligent efforts have been made to locate that parent by the consenting parent, then the consent of one parent plus a signed affidavit by the consenting parent which (i) names the absent parent and states that he or she cannot be located, and (ii) states what diligent efforts have been made to locate the absent parent, shall have the effect of both parents' consent for purposes of this Section;
(2) satisfactory proof that the marriage is not prohibited; and
(3) an affidavit or record as prescribed in subparagraph (1) of Section 205 or a court order as prescribed in subparagraph (2) of Section 205, if applicable.
Applying For a Marriage License in Illinois
Once the license is issued, it becomes effective the following day and remains valid for a period of 60 days. If the wedding must take place on the day of issuance, the couple needs a court-ordered exception.Once the ceremony takes place, the married couple has 10 days to return the signed license to the issuing clerk. If the wedding does not take place within 60 days, the license should still be submitted to the clerk before the date of expiration.
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(750 ILCS 5/207) (from Ch. 40, par. 207)
Sec. 207. Effective Date of License.) A license to marry becomes effective in the county where it was issued one day after the date of issuance, unless the court orders that the license is effective when issued, and expires 60 days after it becomes effective, provided that the marriage is not invalidated by the fact that the marriage was inadvertently solemnized in a county in Illinois other than the county where the license was issued.
(Source: P.A. 95-775, eff. 1-1-09.)
Illinois Marriage Requirements
In the state of Illinois, marriage equality is recognized. Same-sex marriages are therefore legally allowed. Additionally, Illinois residency is not required.Both parties, however, must be at least 18 years old. The only exception is for someone 16 or 17 years old who can provide the written consent of both parents. If one of the two parents is unavailable, the other parent must sign the consent form and file an affidavit stating that the second parent cannot be reached.
Illinois forbids the marriage of relatives closer in blood than second cousins. The only exception is for first cousins, and then only if at least one of the two is infertile or if both are over the age of 50.
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(750 ILCS 5/202) (from Ch. 40, par. 202)
Sec. 202. Marriage License and Marriage Certificate.)
(a) The Director of Public Health shall prescribe the form for an application for a marriage license, which shall include the following information:
(1) name, sex, occupation, address, social security number, date and place of birth of each party to the proposed marriage;
(2) if either party was previously married, his name, and the date, place and court in which the marriage was dissolved or declared invalid or the date and place of death of the former spouse;
(3) name and address of the parents or guardian of each party; and
(4) whether the parties are related to each other and, if so, their relationship.
(b) The Director of Public Health shall prescribe the forms for the marriage license, the marriage certificate and, when necessary, the consent to marriage.
(Source: P.A. 80-923.)
Finalizing the Union
The wedding day is meant to be a special and memorable event, and while the focus should be on the celebration, it is important to remember that a couple of final steps are needed to ensure the legality of the marriage. The officiating minister must ensure that the marriage certificate is properly completed following the ceremony. The officiant will need to fill out the requested information, including name, title and ordaining organization (minister of Universal Life Church), home address, and date and place of the wedding.
The completed certificate should then be filed with the issuing clerk within 10 days. At that point the responsibility shifts to the clerk who must forward the information to the Illinois Department of Public Health in order to enter the marriage into the public record.
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(750 ILCS 5/210) (from Ch. 40, par. 210)
Sec. 210. Registration of Marriage Certificate.) Upon receipt of the marriage certificate, the county clerk shall register the marriage. Within 45 days after the close of the month in which a marriage is registered, the county clerk shall make to the Department of Public Health a return of such marriage. Such return shall be made on a form furnished by the Department of Public Health and shall substantially consist of the following items:
(1) A copy of the marriage license application signed and attested to by the applicants, except that in any county in which the information provided in a marriage license application is entered into a computer, the county clerk may submit a computer copy of such information without the signatures and attestations of the applicants.
(2) The date and place of marriage.
(3) The marriage license number.
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