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Iowa Wedding Laws

Iowa is representative of the heart of our nation with its vast fields of corn and plains as far as the eye can see. The Hawkeye State has its own set of requirements that both engaged couples and wedding officiants should be aware of before tying the knot. At the Universal Life Church, we can’t think of a better way to start off a life together than by making sure that it’s completely legal. We’ve put in the time and effort to parse through Iowa’s marriage laws and created this easy-to-read guide for the benefit of you and couples wanting to wed in Iowa.

Getting Married in Iowa

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
1
Min. Age of Witnesses:
18
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

In general, the state of Iowa is not concerned with the specific details related to wedding customs based on religion or culture. It is up to the celebrants and officiants to make decisions on the ceremony specifics. The only requirement from the state is that each partner formally consent to be wed to one another before a legally authorized officiant and at least one witness over the age of 18. The only exceptions involve partners who are members of certain faiths or religious sects with traditions that do not conform to this requirement.

Iowa 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

In Iowa, applicants should be at least 18 years old to marry legally. If any of the applicants falsely claims to be over 18, the state will not declare the marriage void unless someone comes forward to own up to the deception and pursue annulment. Applicants who are at least 16 can be married in the Hawkeye State as long as they provide written consent of at least one of their parents or legal guardians and submit approval from a district court judge who acknowledges that they are fit to marry. One shouldn’t assume that pregnancy alone is a sufficient reason to marry in the eyes of the court. It is up to a judge to make a ruling based on the information presented.

While Iowa law once mandated that marriage must be between one man and one woman, both state and federal law allow marriage between same-sex couples. The state prohibits unions of persons who are closer in relations than second cousins.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Iowa

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

Within the Hawkeye State, marriages can be officiated by judges and magistrates. Ordained ministers and other clergy affiliated with a particular religion or faith can also solemnize a marriage as long as they are aged 18 or older.

Ministers who have been ordained through the Universal Life Church’s online program are considered to be religious actors. As such, they are authorized to officiate weddings irrespective of location of residence, gender identity or religion or creed. To be on the safe side, ULC ministers should be ready to provide credentials or a letter of good standing to the applicable county officials upon request.

Applying For a Marriage License in Iowa

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
Varies by County
License Valid For:
Does Not Expire
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 15 Days of Ceremony

Once all information furnished has been confirmed, the county registrar issues a marriage license that becomes valid after three days have passed. Jasper County is the sole exception with a five-day waiting period. The new marriage license is only valid in the county of issuance. Although there is no expiration date for the license, it must be remitted to the applicable county clerk in a time period not to exceed 15 days after the marriage ceremony.

How to Get an Iowa 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:
$35.00
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
No
Blood Test Required:
No

To get started in obtaining a marriage license, the applicants must visit the county registrar where they will complete and file a verified application. This document must include the social security numbers of both applicants as well as a signed affidavit from at least one witness who is competent and able to attest to the age information provided.

For applicants who have been in prior marriages, a date of marriage dissolution should suffice, unless divorce proceedings took place in the previous 60 days. In this scenario, applicants must also furnish a copy of the decree when applying. The cost to apply is $35 in the state of Iowa.

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 authorized officiant must attest to the marriage as indicated on the certificate. You should add details concerning the date and location of the ceremony, as well as the names of the newlyweds and the adult witness. Be sure to add your own details, including your name, title, home address (if requested) and the name of the ordaining organization, which would be the Universal Life Church Ministries. Upon completion, return the marriage certificate to the county registrar who provided the original license no later than 15 days after the ceremony.