Kentucky Wedding Laws

Kentucky Wedding Laws

Drafted and last reviewed for accuracy by the Kentucky marriage law team at the Universal Life Church Ministries on

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, some things are serious business. Bourbon, basketball, and horses probably come to mind first, but Kentucky also takes its weddings seriously. With a little research and planning, you can make sure your Kentucky wedding will be a fully-legal slam dunk.

Kentucky Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:

In most cases, Kentucky requires each party to a marriage to be at least 18 years old. Additionally, the prospective spouses must be legally divorced from any previous living spouses and be no more closely related than second cousins, whether by whole or half-blood. The law also insists on each party being of sound mind and prohibits marriage by any person who has been found mentally incompetent by a court of law.

Of all the legal requirements for marriage, state law only recognizes exceptions to the prohibitions on age. State law allows minors who are 16 or 17 years old to get married if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian, and those who are 15 or younger may request a judge's permission to marry if they are pregnant.

Kentucky still has laws on the books prohibiting same-sex marriage. However, since the passage of federal laws on marriage equality and corresponding Supreme Court rulings, those state laws have not been enforced.

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    §402.020 Other prohibited marriages.

    (1) Marriage is prohibited and void:

    (a) With a person who has been adjudged mentally disabled by a court of

    competent jurisdiction;

    (b) Where there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has

    not been divorced;

    (c) When not solemnized or contracted in the presence of an authorized person or


    (d) Between members of the same sex;

    (e) Between more than two (2) persons; and

    (f) Except as provided in KRS 402.210, with a person who at the time of

    marriage is under eighteen (18) years of age.

    § 402.010

    (1) No marriage shall be contracted between persons who are nearer of kin to each other by consanguinity, whether of the whole or half-blood, than second cousins. (2) Marriages prohibited by subsection (1) of this section are incestuous and void.

How to Get a Kentucky Marriage License

In order to obtain a marriage license in Kentucky, both parties must visit a county clerk's office and present appropriate documentation. Each county may have different document requirements, such as policies on whether passports are acceptable forms of ID or whether proof of a previous divorce is required, so check your county's requirements before visiting the clerk's office. Marriage license fees also vary and can cost as much as $50 depending on the county.

It's also important to note that if the marrying couple includes a female under age 18, the couple must visit the clerk's office in her county of residence in order to apply for a marriage license.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    § 402.080

    No marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the county in which the female resides at the time, unless the female is eighteen (18) years of age or over or a widow, and the license is issued on her application in person or by writing signed by her, in which case it may be issued by any county clerk.

Applying For a Marriage License in Kentucky

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
License Valid For:
30 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
By Expiration

Marriage licenses issued by a Kentucky county clerk are valid in any county across the state and expire 30 days after issuance. That means couples may apply for their marriage license in a county other than where they plan to hold the ceremony. However, following the wedding, the license must be returned to the county clerk's office where it was issued.Each marriage license must provide the same information, no matter where it was issued.

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    § 402.105 A marriage license shall be valid for thirty (30) days, including the date it is issued, and after that time it shall be invalid.

    § 402.110 The form of marriage license prescribed in KRS 402.100 shall be uniform throughout this state, and every license blank shall contain the identical words and figures provided in the form prescribed by that section. In issuing the license the clerk shall deliver it in its entirety to the licensee. The clerk shall see to it that every blank space required to be filled by the applicants is so filled before delivering it to the licensee.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Kentucky

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Varies by County
Minister I.D. # Issued:

In Kentucky, justices and judges who are either retired or still serving may officiate a wedding, as long as they haven't been removed or found guilty of a felony. Additionally, ministers and priests of any denomination may perform a religious wedding ceremony, as may religious societies without officiating ministers or priests, as long as they perform the ceremony before their congregations.

County clerks may require religious leaders to present credentials, such as a Letter of Good Standing, to demonstrate their status and affiliation with their religious organization. This requirement can be issued either before or after the ceremony, so officiants should be prepared to provide this documentation promptly in order to avoid delay.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    § 402.050

    (1) Marriage shall be solemnized only by: (a) Ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society; (b) Justices and judges of the Court of Justice, retired justices and judges of the Court of Justice except those removed for cause or convicted of a felony, county judges/executive, and such justices of the peace and fiscal court commissioners as the Governor or the county judge/executive authorizes; or (c) A religious society that has no officiating minister or priest and whose usage is to solemnize marriage at the usual place of worship and by consent given in the presence of the society, if either party belongs to the society. (2) At least two (2) persons, in addition to the parties and the person solemnizing the marriage, shall be present at every marriage.

Getting Married in Kentucky

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:

Kentucky law requires a marriage ceremony to be led by an authorized officiant in the physical presence of both parties and two additional adult witnesses. During the ceremony, each party is required to declare their intent to accept the other as a spouse. Following that declaration, the officiant must declare the couple officially married in order for the wedding to be legal.

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    § 402.220

    The person solemnizing the marriage or the clerk of the religious society before which it was solemnized shall within one (1) month return the license to the county clerk of the county in which it was issued, with a certificate of the marriage over his signature, giving the date and place of celebration and the names of at least two (2) of the persons present.

    § 402.050

    (2) At least two (2) persons, in addition to the parties and the person solemnizing the marriage, shall be present at every marriage.

Finalizing the Union

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

The minister is responsible for completing the marriage certificate and returning it in an expeditious manner to the clerk's office following the ceremony. Information required on the certificate generally includes the date of the ceremony, names of the couple and witnesses, and the minister's name, title, and religious affiliation, such as the Universal Life Church.

  • Show Legal Excerpt+

    § 402.230

    The certificate shall be filed in the county clerk's office. The county clerk shall keep in a record book a fair register of the parties' names, the person by whom, or the religious society by which, the marriage was solemnized, the date when the marriage was solemnized, and shall keep an index to the book in which the register is made.

Learn How to Perform a Kentucky Wedding

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