Illinois Wedding Laws
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the guide to marriage laws in the state of Illinois. Officiating a wedding ceremony is a tremendous honor, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility - which is why we've created this page. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the big day, we encourage ministers (and couples, too!) to read through the guide below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Illinois.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Illinois
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is easier than most people think. The process of online ordination only takes a few minutes. Even better, it's completely free! Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages in Illinois every year. Follow the link below to get started!
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Illinois
Prior to the ceremony, you'll need to contact the county clerk's office in the county where the wedding will occur. Introduce yourself as a minister and inquire about what documents you'll need to submit to verify your ordination. You may be asked to provide a number of things, but such requirements often vary from county to county. Any documents or materials you might require are available in the Minister Store here on our site.
Select a county to see contact information for each office:
What Do You Need to Officiate a Wedding in Illinois
Once you've checked in with the county clerk's office, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need for the wedding. Based on feedback from our ministers in Illinois, we recommend picking up the Classic Wedding Set.
In general, ministers are not required to register in Illinois. That being said, some county clerks prefer to see proof of your ordination before giving the "go-ahead" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, most couples like to know that their wedding minister has official documentation (such as an ordination certificate) on hand. As requested by county officials, please order your materials at least several weeks ahead of the wedding.
How to Get a Illinois Marriage License
In Illinois, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office. Although the couple will pick up the license itself, ministers ought to have an understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Illinois and its individual counties. Let's say the couple is planning to get a Cook County marriage license, for example. As the minister, you should see if there are any specific rules for Cook County that the couple might not know about.
In Illinois, marriage licenses are valid for 60 days. Note that there is a mandatory 1-day waiting period - this means that the couple must wait at least 24 hours after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony is over, the signed marriage license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days.
Illinois's Top Wedding Venue
The Pavilion At Orchard Ridge Farms
How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
With all the paperwork in order, all that's left is performing the wedding! If you want any guidance in this area, we encourage our ministers to utilize the tools below. These helpful resources provide tips and advice for all aspects of a marriage ceremony. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, these pages can be instrumental in helping you plan for the big day!
Finalizing the Marriage
There's just one last step - but it can't be overlooked! After performing the wedding, you'll need to fill out the remainder of the marriage license. The couple will sign it, as will you. If asked to provide the following, your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious"; for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".
Under the address of ministry, put your address. Do not put the address of ULC's headquarters. No license number or witnesses are required. Finally, remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!
Illinois Marriage Laws
Illinois marriage laws are governed by Chapter 750 of the state's Compiled Statutes. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Illinois. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
Sec. 209. Solemnization and Registration.
(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, 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-5) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, to solemnize any marriage. Instead, any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose which marriages it will solemnize. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a refusal by a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group to solemnize any marriage under this Act shall not create or be the basis for any civil, administrative, or criminal penalty, claim, or cause of action.
(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.
(b) The solemnization of the marriage is not invalidated by the fact that the person solemnizing the marriage was not legally qualified to solemnize it, if either party to the marriage believed him or her to be so qualified or 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. 98-597, eff. 6-1-14.)