Wisconsin Wedding Laws
Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.
Welcome to the Wisconsin marriage laws guide. Officiating a wedding can be an incredible honor, but it's also an awfully big job. This is why we've created this page - to provide guidance to both couples and ordained ministers alike. In order to ensure that everything goes smoothly on the big day, we encourage you to review the steps below. It will explain how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Wisconsin.
Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:
How Do I Become Ordained to Marry in Wisconsin
Becoming a marriage officiant with the Universal Life Church is a lot easier than you might think. Our online ordination process is straightforward, fast, and completely free. We don't believe in installing artificial barriers between you and your spiritual life. Legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform countless marriages and other ceremonies each year. Once you have your minister license in hand, officiating a wedding is right around the corner! Simply click on the button below to get started.
How Do You Perform a Wedding in Wisconsin
Before you begin, we advise that you contact the marriage licensing office in the county where the wedding will take place. Identify yourself as a minister and ask what documents you will need to provide to the officials. You may be asked to show numerous items to verify that your ordination status is valid. Please take note, however, that these requirements often vary from county to county (which is why we recommend contacting officials beforehand). Any documents or materials you might require can be found 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 Wisconsin
As soon as you've spoken with your county's 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 Wisconsin, we recommend picking up a Classic Wedding Set.
In general, ministers are not required to register in the state of Wisconsin. That being said, it's not entirely 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 couple peace of mind knowing that their wedding minister has all the proper official documents, like your embossed and signed ordination certificate, on hand. As requested by county officials, we recommend that you please order your materials well in advance of the ceremony.
How to Get a Wisconsin Marriage License
In Wisconsin, marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office. While it is the couple's responsibility to pick up the license, the minister should have a solid understanding of the rules governing marriage licenses in Wisconsin and its individual counties. Let's say the couple is planning to get a Milwaukee County marriage license, for example. As the minister, you ought to double-check if there are any specific rules for getting married in Milwaukee County that the couple might not be aware of.
In Wisconsin, marriage licenses are valid for 30 days. Note that there is a mandatory 6-day waiting period - this means that the couple must wait a minimum of 6 days after receiving their license before a ceremony can legally take place. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 3 days.
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How Do You Officiate a Wedding?
Once all the paperwork out of the way, you're finally ready to perform wedding ceremonies! If you need any guidance in this area, please don't hesitate to review the other guides linked below. These carefully-tailored resources provide helpful information and tips on all aspects of performing a successful wedding ceremony and can provide some advanced guidance where necessary. Constructed especially 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 too!
Finalizing the Marriage
Now there's just one last step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple and their witnesses). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational".
For the address of ministry, list your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC's main office. No license number is required. Finally, remember that the signed marriage license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!
Wisconsin Marriage Laws
Wisconsin marriage laws are governed by Chapter 765.16 of the Wisconsin state code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the state of Wisconsin. Among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:
765.16" Marriage contract, how made; officiating person.
(1m)",Marriage may be validly solemnized and contracted in this state only after a marriage license has been issued therefor, and only by the mutual declarations of the 2 parties to be joined in marriage that they take each other as husband and wife, made before an authorized officiating person and in the presence of at least 2 competent adult witnesses other than the officiating person. The following are authorized to be officiating persons:
(a) Any ordained member of the clergy of any religious denomination or society who continues to be an ordained member of the clergy.
(b) Any licentiate of a denominational body or an appointee of any bishop serving as the regular member of the clergy of any church of the denomination to which the member of the clergy belongs, if not restrained from so doing by the discipline of the church or denomination.
(c) The 2 parties themselves, by mutual declarations that they take each other as husband and wife, in accordance with the customs, rules and regulations of any religious society, denomination or sect to which either of the parties may belong.
(d) Any judge of a court of record or a reserve judge appointed under s. 753.075.
(e) Any circuit court commissioner appointed under SCR 75.02 (1) or supplemental court commissioner appointed under s. 757.675 (1).
(f) Any municipal judge.
(2m)",An officiating person under sub. (1m) (a), (b), (d), (e), or (f) must be at least 18 years old.
History: 1977 c. 323; 1979 c. 32 ss. 48, 92 (4); 1979 c. 176, 259; Stats. 1979 s. 765.16; 1981 c. 20 s. 2200; 1985 a. 29; 1991 a. 315; 1999 a. 85; 2001 a. 61; 2013 a. 372.