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Arkansas Wedding Laws

As with most states, Arkansas takes marriage seriously and regulates the act with state-specific statutes. While it might feel overwhelming to consider the laws overseeing marriage licenses, marriage ceremonies, and officiation, we have put together a comprehensive guide to ensure you learn everything you need to perform or participate in a legal and recognized wedding. The following guide will inform and instruct you of the rules you must follow as ministers or couples.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Arkansas

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Credentials of Ministry
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Before Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
Yes

In Arkansas, all marriage officiants must be at a minimum of 18 years of age. The officiant is not required to live within the state, meaning a couple can request a minister from another state or country.

While the state is flexible on who can preside over a ceremony, it does require all ministers to show documentation to verify their status and standing within the ordaining body. Therefore, it is recommended that all ULC ministers, upon the completion of their online ordination, obtain an official credential of ministry from ULC. The county clerk will likely ask for this document before granting a license or registering it.

While an official ULC credential is often enough for verification purposes, it is always recommended to contact the clerk’s office and ask about the verification process and what documents are necessary. The county clerk is the individual with the most up-to-date information and can provide any pertinent details about the requirements of a minister. The documents the clerk provides will likely contain a ministerial registration number, which could be needed later when filling out paperwork, so keep it close.

The ULC recommends all newly ordained ministers obtain an official ordination credential at a minimum. However, Arkansas might require more from registering ministers, such as a letter of good standing. Because of the many requirements, it is also recommended that ministers get an early start in the registration and paperwork process, ensuring adequate time before the ceremony.

Getting Married in Arkansas

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
None
Min. Age of Witnesses:
Not Applicable
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

Arkansas does not allow proxy weddings, meaning that all parties must be physically present at the service. As a change from many other states, Arkansas does not require a witness to the ceremony, meaning the service can be legally binding with only three people: both members of the couple and the officiant.

While there is flexibility in the ceremony, allowing the couple to customize the service to suit their desires and personality, every wedding must contain two integral components to be legally binding: the proclamation and the pronouncement. The proclamation is the part of the service when both parties of the couple provide verbal consent to the union, typically known as the “I do” portion. The pronouncement is when the officiant announces the couple is married.

How to Get an Arkansas Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Arkansas
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
$60.00
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
No
Blood Test Required:
No

To obtain a marriage license in Arkansas, you will need to bring some form of identification, typically something with a photo, like a driver’s license. Additionally, there is currently a fee of $60 to receive the license.

A couple can go to any county clerk to pick up a marriage license, which allows them to marry anywhere in the state. However, the license must be returned to the same clerk’s office.

Blood tests were once a requirement in the state. Today, the state no longer requires such tests to receive a marriage license.

Applying For a Marriage License in Arkansas

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
By Expiration

When a couple applies for a marriage license, they will have the option for a civil or religious ceremony. Depending on religious affiliations, a couple might be tempted to select the civil option because they do not intend on having religious representation at the ceremony. While this is a fine selection if using a judge, justice of the peace, or someone of similar authority, it will not work for weddings overseen by a ULC minister. The couple will need to select the religious option, regardless of the presence of religious elements at the ceremony.

In most cases, there is no waiting period between the issuance of a marriage license and a wedding ceremony, meaning the couple could potentially wed on the same day. However, despite the incredible flexibility, if the couple is underage, the state does require a five-day waiting period before the license is issued.

The marriage license is valid for 60 days. Whether the license is used or not within that window, it must be returned to the county clerk of issuance.

Arkansas Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 17 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

As a couple looking to wed in Arkansas, there are a few things you should be aware of. The state requires each party be of legal age, 18 or older, to marry. However, exceptions can be made for 17-year-old minors with parental consent.

While some states might have residency requirements, Arkansas does not. Therefore, all are welcome to hold weddings in the state, even out-of-state or out-of-country residents. Also, as with all states in the US, Arkansas honors marriage equality, meaning same-sex couples can wed and be legally recognized as married.

Finalizing the Union

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

To complete the wedding ceremony, the officiant and couple will need to complete the form. There will be a blank space asking for the officiant’s name; provide a full legal name without titles. Sometimes there will be an additional space for the title, which is where the officiant places “minister.” If asked, the ordaining body is Universal Life Church Ministries. Where asked for the church address, place the personal address of the minister. Finally, there will be spaces for the couple to sign.

The license needs to be returned to the clerk’s office that issued it by the expiration date, 60 days from issuance. It is also crucial to ensure there are no errors in the document. Failure to return the document within 60 days or returning it with errors might result in fees or penalties.

All ULC ministers should keep a personal record of all ceremonies they perform in case questions arise later. This is especially important when a minister is paid for their service or under contract.