Texas Wedding Laws
Welcome to our guide on Texas marriage laws. Chances are that if you're here you are probably getting married or have been asked to perform a wedding - either way, congratulations! Being asked to officiate a wedding is truly an incredibly honor, but it's also a big job. We've put this page together to provide guidance to both couples and ministers of the Universal Life Church alike. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the special day, we encourage you to follow the helpful steps provided below. You will learn will how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Texas.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Texas
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is a lot easier than one might think. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and above all, entirely free. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages each year. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Click the button below to get started.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Texas
Your first step should be to contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will be taking place. Identify yourself as a minister and ask what documents that officials there will need to see from you. It is possible that you will be asked to show any number of items to verify your ordination status. Please be aware, however, that these requirements can and do vary from county to county, which is why we recommend contacting officials before proceeding. 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 Texas
Once you've spoken with your local county's marriage officials, simply visit our website, sign in to your account, and order whatever materials you need via our online catalog. One of our more popular items in Texas is the Classic Wedding Set.
Ministers, in general, are not required to register in Texas. However, with that being said, it isn't uncommon for the county clerk to ask for proof of your ordination before giving the "go-ahead" to perform marriage ceremonies. Plus, it gives the happy couple some peace of mind knowing that their wedding minister has all of his or her official documents (like their ordination certificate) on hand. We advise that you order your materials well in advance of the ceremony to avoid causing any undue stress for you or the couple at the last minute.
How to Get a Texas Marriage License
Marriage licenses in Texas are issued by the county clerk's office. While the minister should have a solid understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Texas and its individual counties, please note that it is the couple's responsibility to pick up the license itself. Let's say, for example the couple is planning to get a Harris County marriage license. As the minister, we recommend double-checking to be sure of any specific rules for getting married in Harris County that the couple might not be aware of.
In Texas, marriage licenses are valid for 90 days. Note that there is a mandatory 3-day waiting period; this means that after receiving the license, the couple must wait a minimum of 3 days before a ceremony can legally be performed. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 30 days.
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How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
Once all the paperwork is in order, you're ready to perform the wedding! If you need any guidance in this area, please don't hesitate to utilize the carefully-tailored resources found below. These helpful guides and tools provide accurate information and tips on all aspects of performing a wedding ceremony. Constructed especially with our Universal Life Church 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, yet important, step. After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license. Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".
For the address of ministry, put your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC's headquarters. No minister license number will be required.. Last, but certainly not least, please remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!
Texas Marriage Laws
Texas marriage laws are governed by Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the code of Texas. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Texas. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
Sec. 2.202. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY. (a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony:
(1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;
(2) a Jewish rabbi;
(3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony;
(4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, judge of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state; and
(5) a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.
(b) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(4), a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4).
(b-1) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(5), a retired judge or magistrate is a former judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state who is fully vested in the Federal Employees Retirement System under 28 U.S.C. Section 371 or 377.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony without authorization under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage is prohibited by law or of a person who by marrying commits an offense under Section 25.01, Penal Code. An offense under this subsection is a felony of the third degree.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997. Amended by: Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268 (S.B. 6), Sec. 4.10, eff. September 1, 2005. Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 134 (S.B. 935), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009. Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1350 (S.B. 1317), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.