How to Officiate a Marriage in a Few Easy Steps - The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

How to Officiate a Marriage in a Few Easy Steps

Your two best friends need someone to officiate their wedding. Priests are too religious for them. The groom's had a fear of judges ever since that incident we're no longer allowed to talk about. As for the county clerk, marking a lifetime commitment in the same way they'd apply for a driver's license lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, right?

So your friends need an alternative. How about you? By becoming an "ordained minister" via the Internet, or in real life, and filling out some paperwork, they can have someone they truly care about asking, "Are you sure you really want to marry him?" in front of the entire family.

Step One: Get Ordained

Let’s say you’re not already a man or woman of the cloth. What do you have to do? Well, in the old days, you’d check the newspaper for an ad from a mail-order church and send them three dollars and a self-addressed stamp envelope. Today, it’s almost as easy. Google “Universal Life Church.” You’ll notice that the old ULC has since divided into many off-shoots. appears to be the original church, but we can’t vouch for any of them. Pick one and go with it.

Fill out the application (it takes about three seconds) and voila! You are now an ordained minister with one of the ULC branches.

Though the statute requires that you be “in good standing,” it also says that if either the bride or groom thought your ordainment was legitimate, the marriage is valid. That means even if you were ordained by the wrong ULC, it’s still all good. You could even order one of the ID cards from the ULC store for a couple of dollars, but that’s probably not necessary.

The other alternative is to study theology at a seminary or rabbinical school. Those options take a little bit longer. The choice is yours.

Step Two: Let The Happy Couple Do the Work

This is the easy part. The happy couple will have to go to the county clerk’s office, pay the fee ($60 in Cook County, $35 in most others), and obtain a marriage license. There is a mandatory one day waiting period between when the license is issued and when the wedding can legally be performed. They also can’t get cold feet, as the wedding must be done within sixty days.

As the couple’s newest spiritual advisor, you’ll probably want to make sure they have all of that in hand ahead of time. After all, the bride will have her hands full.



Step Three: Perform the Ceremony

Now comes the fun part. Do the ceremony however the bride wishes. Then drink some champagne and hit on the bridesmaids or groomsmen. After the ceremony is complete, fill out the bottom portion of the marriage license and either mail it in or drop it off in person at the County Clerk’s Office.


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