Rhode Island Wedding Laws
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the Rhode Island marriage laws guide. Performing a wedding ceremony can be a great honor, but being an officiant also comes with important duties. For this reason we've created this guide for both the minister and the couple. So that you are sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, we recommend following this guide. You will read about how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and what needs to be done to ensure that the ceremony is legal in Rhode Island.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Rhode Island
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is a simpler process than you might expect. Our online ordination process is easy, fast, and totally free. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform thousands of marriages each year. Once you've received your minister license, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Click the button below to get started.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Rhode Island
To begin, you will have to contact the marriage licensing office in the region where the wedding ceremony will be performed. Let the city/town clerk know that you are a minister and inquire about what documents you might be required to show them. There are a number of items you could be asked to display in order to verify your ordination status. Always remember that what is required of the minister can and does vary from county to county (which is why it's best to contact officials beforehand). Any credentials or paperwork you might be asked to present are available for purchase 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 Rhode Island
Once you've spoken with local marriage officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. Based on feedback from our ministers in Rhode Island, we recommend picking up the Classic Wedding Set.
In general, ministers are not required to register in Rhode Island. That being said, it's not uncommon for the city or town clerk to ask for proof of your ordination before giving the "green light" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, it gives the couple peace of mind to know that their wedding minister has all the official documents, like your ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by county officials, please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.
How to Get a Rhode Island Marriage License
Marriage licenses are issued by the city or town clerk's office in Rhode Island. It will be the couple that picks up the license, but the minister should still research and understand the rules for marriage licenses in Rhode Island. For example, if the couple is getting a license from Providence county then you ought to fully familiarize yourself with the rules of Providence county to help make sure the couple is doing everything correctly according to the law.
In Rhode Island, marriage licenses are valid for 90 days. Note that unlike in many other states there is not a mandatory waiting period - this means that the couple can immediately get married after receiving the license. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned by the expiration date.
Rhode Island's Top Wedding Venue
How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
After you've ordered your documents and presented them to the clerk (if necessary) then you are ready to perform the wedding! We have several online tools available for any guidance you might need to prepare for the ceremony. These carefully-tailored resources provide helpful pointers and info on all sides of performing a wedding ceremony. Constructed with our wedding officiants in mind, they contain everything you'll need to plan the perfect ceremony.
Many ULC ministers have used these same resources for guidance when becoming professional officiants!
Finalizing the Marriage
Now there's just one final step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational". No minister license number will be required of you. The name of the church is "Universal Life Church", and if the document asks for the church's address then you should list your home or personal ministry address. Lastly, remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!
Rhode Island Marriage Laws
Rhode Island marriage laws are governed by Chapter 15-3 of Title 15 of the code of Rhode Island. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Rhode Island. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
§ 15-3-5 Officials empowered to join persons in marriage. " Every ordained clergy or elder in good standing; every justice of the supreme court, superior court, family court, workers' compensation court, district court or traffic tribunal; the clerk of the supreme court; every clerk, administrative clerk, or general chief clerk of a superior court, family court, district court, or traffic tribunal; magistrates, special or general magistrates of the superior court, family court, traffic tribunal or district court; administrative clerks of the district court; administrators of the workers' compensation court; every former justice or judge and former administrator of these courts; every former chief clerk of the district court; every former clerk, administrative clerk, or general chief clerk of a superior court; the secretary of the senate; elected clerks of the general assembly;, any former secretary of the senate; any former elected clerk of the general assembly who retires after July 1, 2007; judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution; bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution; and United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law, may join persons in marriage in any city or town in this state; and every justice and every former justice of the municipal courts of the cities and towns in this state and of the police court of the town of Johnston and the administrator of the Johnston municipal court, while he or she is serving as an administrator, and every probate judge and every former probate judge may join persons in marriage in any city or town in this state, and wardens of the town of New Shoreham may join persons in marriage in New Shoreham.