Universal Life Church

New Jersey Wedding Laws

Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.

Performing a wedding for a friend or family member is an incredible experience. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about officiating weddings in the state of New Jersey. It's a great honor, but also a great responsibility - so be sure you read through the guide below to make sure you are prepared. Among other things, we'll cover how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make the ceremony legally binding in New Jersey.

Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:

  1. How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in New Jersey

    If you've never performed a wedding before, the task can seem daunting. That's why we're here to help! Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is quick, easy, and totally free. As soon as you complete and submit the online ordination application, you'll be a legally licensed minister! Members of the Universal Life Church perform weddings in New Jersey on a regular basis with the help of a minister license.

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in New Jersey

    Most counties in New Jersey will require you to submit your ordination certificate, or minister license. The first step will be to contact the office issuing the marriage license (typically the County Registrar). Introduce yourself as a minister and ask what documentation you'll need to submit to perform a wedding. Requirements can vary from county to county, so we recommend doing your due diligence and double checking what you'll need. If you do require something, you can pick it up from the ULC online store here: Minister Store.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. What Do You Need to Officiate a Wedding in New Jersey

    Now that you've contacted county marriage officials, you can sign in to your account and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. For officiants in New Jersey, we generally recommend the Ordination Set and an Official Letter of Good Standing. As requested by marriage officials, be sure to order your documents well in advance of the wedding to ensure everything has time to get processed.

  4. How to Get a New Jersey Marriage License

    While the couple is responsible for picking up their marriage license, you should take a look into any local laws that might affect the ceremony. If the wedding is in Bergen County, for example, check ordinances for Bergen County regarding permit requirements for events.

    Please note that there is a 3 day waiting period between when the couple obtains the marriage license and when the ceremony can be held. The license is valid for 30 days so the wedding and submission of the completed document need to happen within that timeframe.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    Now you're finally ready to perform the wedding! Please feel free to utilize the resources linked below. They contain helpful tips and information on every aspect of performing a wedding. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, they'll show you everything you'll need to plan the perfect ceremony.

    Many professional ULC ministers use these resources on a regular basis!

  6. Finalizing the Marriage

    With the ceremony completed, you need to ensure it will be legally binding by submitting the completed marriage license back to the office that issued it. While filling the license out, list your official title as "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational". No license number will be required of you.

    Under address of ministry, provide either your personal ministry or home address in this field. Do not provide the address of the ULC headquarters as the church address. Finally, make sure the paperwork gets submitted before the deadline. That's it, your job is done!

New Jersey Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in New Jersey are primarily directed by Title 37 of the state code, which defines the persons authorized to perform a marriage in the State of New Jersey. This includes ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church, among other individuals. We've reproduced a portion of this code below:

State Flag Of New Jersey

37:1-13 Authorization to solemnize marriages 37:1-13. Each judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, each judge of a federal district court, United States magistrate, judge of a municipal court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of a tax court, retired judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, or judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, the former County Court, the former County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, or the former County District Court who has resigned in good standing, surrogate of any county, county clerk and any mayor or the deputy mayor when authorized by the mayor, or chairman of any township committee or village president of this State, and every minister of every religion, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriage between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

New Jersey marriage laws are governed by New Jersey Permanent Statute 31. Many of the requirements of New Jersey's wedding laws are similar to other states. In order to obtain a marriage license, you must have appropriate identification such as certified copies of birth certificates, passports or drivers' licenses. United States citizens will also need to furnish their Social Security numbers. If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parent's consent to the marriage in front of two witnesses. If you are under the age of sixteen, judicial consent is necessary. The fee for a marriage license is $28.

If you have been previously married, you must supply the county clerk with a copy of your divorce decree if it has been finalized in the last thirty days, or a copy of the death certificate of your former spouse if your spouse passed away in the last thirty days. The wedding officiant will be required to furnish his or her ordination papers to the county clerk as well as his or her current contact information. Covenant marriages and proxy marriages are not permitted according to New Jersey wedding laws though marriages between first cousins are permitted. The ULC Monastery strongly advises that its ministers check with the local county clerk where you intend to perform a marriage ceremony for any county-specific requirements.

There is no residency requirement to marry in New Jersey for the bride, groom or an online ordained minister; ULC Monastery ministers from outside New Jersey are thus free to perform ceremonies there. However, if either the bride or groom is a resident of New Jersey, the couple should obtain a marriage license in the county where the bride lives. If the bride is not a resident, according to New Jersey wedding laws the couple must apply for a marriage license in the county where the groom lives. If neither are residents of the state, obtaining a marriage license from the county clerk where the ceremony will be held is acceptable. Military personnel are considered to be residents in the county where they are posted. After the wedding license is issued, there is a three day waiting period. Re-marriages or renewal of vows are exempt from the three day waiting period.