Universal Life Church

North Carolina Wedding Laws

With breathtaking mountain views, spectacular fall foliage, and sandy ocean beaches all within a few hours' drive of each other, it is no wonder that North Carolina is a popular wedding destination for residents and non-residents alike. Fortunately, marriage laws in the state are fairly uncomplicated. However, there are still rules and regulations to be aware of. This guide from the Universal Life Church will help you decipher the legal code and familiarize yourself with the process of obtaining a marriage license and conducting a marriage ceremony that meets all the requirements to be legally recognized in the State of North Carolina.

Getting Married in North Carolina

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

The only set-in-stone legal requirement for a North Carolina wedding ceremony is that both people must consent to take each other "freely and seriously," and this must be done in the presence of two adult witnesses. This declaration of consent must precede the minister or magistrate declaring that the couple is now some combination of husband and wife, as agreed upon by the couple. The rest of the ceremony is left to the discretion of the couple getting married and the minister. Couples are free to observe or not observe whichever religious and secular customs and rituals according to their own beliefs and personal preferences.

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    § 51-1. Requisites of marriage; solemnization.

    A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who

    may lawfully marry, presently to take each other as husband and wife, freely, seriously and

    plainly expressed by each in the presence of the other, either:

    (1) a. In the presence of an ordained minister of any religious

    denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate; and

    b. With the consequent declaration by the minister or magistrate that the

    persons are husband and wife; or

    (2) In accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious

    denomination, or federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.

North Carolina Marriage Requirements

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

There are only a few requirements for couples to be eligible to be wed in North Carolina. There are no restrictions on same-sex couples or non-residents, but both people need to be at least 18 years old or 16 years old with the sworn consent of a parent or guardian. Persons between the ages of 14 and 16 may be able to get married with approval from the court. Blood relatives who are closer than second cousins, with the exception of double first cousins, are prohibited from getting legally married due to restrictions on incestuous relationships in the state.

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    § 51-4. Prohibited degrees of kinship.

    When the degree of kinship is estimated with a view to ascertain the right of kinspeople to

    marry, the half-blood shall be counted as the whole-blood: Provided, that nothing herein

    contained shall be so construed as to invalidate any marriage heretofore contracted in case

    where by counting the half-blood as the whole-blood the persons contracting such marriage

    would be nearer of kin than first cousins; but in every such case the kinship shall be ascertained

    by counting relations of the half-blood as being only half so near kin as those of the same

    degree of the whole-blood

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in North Carolina

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

Any minister ordained by a religious denomination or authorized by a magistrate is legally eligible to conduct a wedding ceremony in North Carolina, as long as they are 18 years of age or older. All US states recognize weddings solemnized in either civil or religious ceremonies; keep in mind that all weddings performed by ULC ministers are considered religious in nature, regardless of the content of the service. Ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church enjoy national legal recognition as religious actors regardless of their gender, religious beliefs or residence. However, some counties may require ministers to present their ordination credentials.

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    Chapter 51.

    Marriage.

    Article 1.

    General Provisions.

    § 51-1. Requisites of marriage; solemnization.

    A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who

    may lawfully marry, presently to take each other as husband and wife, freely, seriously and

    plainly expressed by each in the presence of the other, either:

    (1) a. In the presence of an ordained minister of any religious

    denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate; and

    b. With the consequent declaration by the minister or magistrate that the

    persons are husband and wife; or

    (2) In accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious

    denomination, or federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.

    Marriages solemnized before March 9, 1909, by ministers of the gospel licensed, but not

    ordained, are validated from their consummation. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 3; Code, s. 1812; Rev., s.

    2081; 1908, c. 47; 1909, c. 704, s. 2; c. 897; C.S., s. 2493; 1945, c. 839; 1965, c. 152; 1971, c.

    1185, s. 26; 1977, c. 592, s. 1; 2000-58, ss. 1, 2; 2001-14, ss. 1, 2; 2001-62, ss. 1, 17; 2002-115,

    ss. 5, 6; 2002-159, s. 13(a); 2003-4, s. 1; 2005-56, s. 1; 2007-61, s. 1; 2009-13, s. 1; 2012-194,

    s. 65.4(a).)

Applying For a Marriage License in North Carolina

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

A completed marriage license must have the full name, race, age and address of both parties. It must also have the names and addresses of the parents, where applicable, the minister or officiant who conducted the marriage and two adult witnesses.

The marriage license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and may be used immediately after it is issued without the need for a waiting period. Unlike many states, it is legally permissible to obtain a marriage license and get married on the same day in North Carolina.

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    § 51-16. Form of license.

    License shall be in the following or some equivalent form:

    To any ordained minister of any religious denomination, minister authorized by a church,

    any magistrate, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this

    State: A.B. having applied to me for a license for the marriage of C.D. (the name of the man to

    be written in full) of (here state his residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may be), the

    son of (here state the father and mother, if known; state whether they are living or dead, and

    their residence, if known; if any of these facts are not known, so state), and E.F. (write the

    name of the woman in full) of (here state her residence), aged ____ years (race, as the case may

    be), the daughter of (here state names and residences of the parents, if known, as is required

    above with respect to the man). (If either of the parties is under 18 years of age, the license

    shall here contain the following:) And the written consent of G.H., father (or mother, etc., as

    the case may be) to the proposed marriage having been filed with me, and there being no legal

    impediment to such marriage known to me, you are hereby authorized, at any time within 60

    days from the date hereof, to celebrate the proposed marriage at any place within the State. You

    are required within 10 days after you shall have celebrated such marriage, to return this license

    to me at my office with your signature subscribed to the certificate under this license, and with

    the blanks therein filled according to the facts, under penalty of forfeiting two hundred dollars

    ($200.00) to the use of any person who shall sue for the same.

    Issued this ____ day of ____, ____

    ____________________ L.M.

    Register of Deeds of ____ County

    Every register of deeds shall, at the request of an applicant, designate in a marriage license

    issued the race of the persons proposing to marry by inserting in the blank after the word "race"

    the words "white," "black," "African-American," "American Indian," "Alaska Native," "Asian

    Indian," "Chinese," "Filipino," "Japanese," "Korean," "Vietnamese," "Other Asian," "Native

    Hawaiian," "Guamarian," "Chamorro," "Samoan," "Other Pacific Islander," "Mexican,"

    "Mexican-American," "Chicano," "Puerto Rican," "Cuban," "Other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino,"

    or "other," as the case may be. The certificate shall be filled out and signed by the minister,

    officer, or other authorized individual celebrating the marriage, and also be signed by two

    witnesses present at the marriage, who shall add to their names their place of residence, as

    follows:

    I, N.O., an ordained or authorized minister or other authorized individual of (here state to

    what religious denomination, or magistrate, as the case may be), united in matrimony (here

    name the parties), the parties licensed above, on the ___ day of ______, ___, at the house of

    P.R., in (here name the town, if any, the township and county), according to law.

    ________________ N.O.

    Witness present at the marriage:

    S.T., of (here give residence).

    (1871-2, c. 193, s. 6; Code, s. 1815; 1899, c. 541, ss. 1, 2; Rev., s. 2089; 1909, c. 704, s. 3;

    1917, c. 38; C.S., s. 2502; 1953, c. 638, s. 2; 1967, c. 957, s. 7; 1971, c. 1072; c. 1185, s. 27;

    1999-456, s. 59; 2001-62, s. 11.)

How to Get a North Carolina Marriage License

Under normal circumstances, the couple wishing to obtain a marriage license must appear in person before the register of deeds. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, couples are currently allowed to apply through the mail or by video conference.

The cost to apply for a marriage license in North Carolina is $60. As part of the application process, both parties must provide their age, marital status, social security number and intention to marry. They may be asked to provide birth certificates and divorce decrees as proof of legal age and marital status. The official may require a sworn oath that the information provided by the couple is true to the best of their knowledge.

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    § 51-8. License issued by register of deeds.

    Every register of deeds shall, upon proper application, issue a license for the marriage of

    any two persons who are able to answer the questions regarding age, marital status, and

    intention to marry, and, based on the answers, the register of deeds determines the persons are

    authorized to be married in accordance with the laws of this State. In making a determination as

    to whether or not the parties are authorized to be married under the laws of this State, the

    register of deeds may require the applicants for the license to marry to present certified copies

    of birth certificates or such other evidence as the register of deeds deems necessary to the

    determination. The register of deeds may administer an oath to any person presenting evidence

    relating to whether or not parties applying for a marriage license are eligible to be married

    pursuant to the laws of this State. Each applicant for a marriage license shall provide on the

    application the applicant's social security number. If an applicant does not have a social

    security number and is ineligible to obtain one, the applicant shall present a statement to that

    effect, sworn to or affirmed before an officer authorized to administer oaths. Upon presentation

    of a sworn or affirmed statement, the register of deeds shall issue the license, provided all other

    requirements are met, and retain the statement with the register's copy of the license. The

    register of deeds shall not issue a marriage license unless all of the requirements of this section

    have been met.

Finalizing the Union

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

Once the wedding ceremony is complete, the happy couple is free to move on to the fun part, but the minister has a few tasks left to complete. If the minister does not complete these tasks, the minister may face a $200 fine.

First, the minister must make sure the marriage license includes all of the required information concerning the couple, the couple's parents, and the witnesses. The minister also needs to provide the name of the church or religious organization they represent, such as the Universal Life Church, their title, home address, and in some cases, the address of their ministry. Finally, the minister must return the correctly completed and endorsed documents to the registrar of deeds within 10 days of the ceremony. Once all of the paperwork has been properly filed, the minister is off the hook and the marriage is official.

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    § 51-7. Penalty for solemnizing without license.

    Every minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the

    laws of this State, who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to that person,

    as required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to

    the register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage celebrated by virtue thereof, with the

    certificate appended thereto duly filled up and signed, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars

    ($200.00) to any person who sues therefore, and shall also be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    (R.C., c. 68, ss. 6, 13; 1871-2, c. 193, s. 8; Code, s. 1817; Rev., ss. 2087, 3372; C.S., s. 2499;

    1953, c. 638, s. 1; 1967, c. 957, s. 5; 1993, c. 539, s. 415; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c);

    2001-62, s. 7.)