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Illinois Wedding Laws

Home to both the tallest building in the country and the flattest wetlands and farmlands, Illinois is a study in contrast. While the prospect of obtaining a marriage license and holding a wedding here can be intimidating at first, taking the process step by step makes it more manageable. The following guide can help you make sure that you have met all the applicable requirements so that your Illinois wedding will be legally binding.

Getting Married in Illinois

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
None
Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

For a marriage to be legally binding, Illinois law requires you and your intended spouse to make a solemn declaration of your consent to marry one another during the ceremony in the presence of the officiant. The officiant must then make a pronouncement officially solemnizing your union. There is no requirement for witnesses to be present, nor does state law mandate that the ceremony follow any other specific format or structure. This allows you to honor your own traditions or customs when planning and carrying out the ceremony.

To protect nondenominational ministries, churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples from criminal or civil liability, Illinois law relieves them of the obligation to host a marriage ceremony deemed in violation of their religious practices or beliefs.

Illinois Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

Illinois welcomes both nonresidents and same-sex couples to get married within its boundaries. However, it does require that both you and your prospective spouse be at least 18 years old. If both parents or legal guardians give consent to the marriage, a minor at least 16 years old can be allowed to marry. There is even an exception that if every effort has been made to reach one of the parents or guardians yet he or she remains unavailable, the county clerk can issue the marriage license anyway with a court order.

Relatives closer than second cousins generally cannot marry one another in Illinois. However, the state may make an exception for first cousins if one is infertile or both are older than 50.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Illinois

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

A wide range of officials, both civil and religious, are authorized to solemnize marriages under Illinois law. The baseline requirement is that they all must be at least 18 years of age. Civil officials include mayors, county clerks if they serve over two million inhabitants, and judges if they have not been removed from office. Retired mayors and judges are still allowed to perform marriages but cannot receive compensation for it. Recognized heads of an Indigenous tribe can also officiate at a wedding.

Authorized officials of any religious denomination are also allowed to perform wedding ceremonies. Although an individual's personal beliefs, residence, or gender has no bearing on his or her ability to be ordained online by the Universal Life Church or perform a wedding in Illinois, state law nevertheless regards such an individual as a "religious actor."

Applying For a Marriage License in Illinois

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
1 Day
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

The clerk will review the information on your application and issue your license if everything checks out. Unless special circumstances warrant a court order to make it immediately valid, it takes effect the day after it is issued. It then remains in effect for 60 days and is only valid in the county where you applied initially. If no wedding takes place by the 60-day mark, you must return the incomplete marriage license to the county clerk's office. Otherwise, it must be returned within 10 days following the ceremony.

How to Get an Illinois Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
County of Issuance
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Standard Government Issued ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

The fee that you must pay to obtain your Illinois marriage license depends on the county where you apply. You should apply in the county where the ceremony will take place by presenting yourself in person to the clerk of that county and completing a written application. If applicable, you must provide names and addresses of any guardians consenting to the marriage of a minor and divulge if you are related in any way. You do not have to provide certified copies of divorce decrees unless either you or your prospective spouse have been divorced within the last six months. However, you do have to reveal any previous marriages.

Otherwise, the information you and your future spouse must provide on your application is fairly straightforward and includes your names, dates and places of birth, addresses, sexes, occupations, and Social Security numbers.

Finalizing the Union

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

The responsibility for completing the marriage certificate and returning it to the county clerk who issued it belongs to the officiant who solemnized the ceremony. He or she has 10 days in which to comply. The information will become part of the state record permanently after the county clerk returns it to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The officiant must include his or her own name, title, and home address on the certificate according to the requirements outlined on the form itself. A ULC minister can enter Universal Life Church Ministries if asked to identify the ordaining body. Otherwise, the certificate should include the location and date that the wedding took place.