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North Carolina Wedding Laws

The Tar Heel State is home to several great attractions and scenic views. North Carolina's marriage laws and its minimal restrictions also make it a great spot for wedding venues. We at the Universal Life Church want to make sure that you know all the boxes to check off your list to get a marriage license and plan the perfect ceremony. There are few spots more idyllic than the beach for a beautiful outdoor wedding, and North Carolina has some of the prettiest shorelines in the country. The following guide helps ensure that the union itself is legally binding.

North Carolina Marriage Requirements

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

North Carolina welcomes all couples who want to get married in the state. There is no gender restriction for either party, and you don't have to live in the state to tie the knot there.

There are, however, a few restrictions. Any marriage between people more closely related than second cousins is not considered valid. The exception to this rule is if the parties are double first cousins. Anyone who is at least 18 years of age can get married, but minors who are 16 and older must have parental consent. Additionally, those who are 14-16 need approval by the court to get married.

How to Get a North Carolina Marriage License

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

Generally, obtaining a marriage license in North Carolina requires appearing in person before a register of deeds. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, applicants are allowed to answer questions via video conference and to send written applications and documentation through the mail.

To prepare for the visit to the register of deeds, both parties should have their birth certificates and any divorce decrees that have been issued ending prior marriages. In the interview, license applicants will be asked their names, ages, marital statuses and social security numbers. They must clearly state their intent to marry and may be asked to swear an oath as to the validity of all paperwork submitted. Once all requirements are met and the $60 application fee is paid, the marriage license can be processed.

Applying For a Marriage License in North Carolina

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 10 Days of Ceremony

North Carolina requirements for the marriage license dictate that it must include the names and addresses of the couple's parents, officiant and two adults who witnessed the ceremony. It must also include the couple's full legal names, race, ages and place of residence. The marriage license is not considered complete if it lacks any of this information.

No matter which county issues the marriage license, the couple can get married anywhere in North Carolina as long as the ceremony occurs within 60 days of the date of issue. There is no waiting period, so a couple can obtain a marriage license and get married on the same day.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in North Carolina

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

Ordination through the Universal Life Church qualifies ministers to conduct wedding ceremonies in North Carolina. The ULC ordains religious actors regardless of their gender, residence or individual religious beliefs. Once ordained, they have the credentials that North Carolina requires to recognize them as a valid minister.

North Carolina, like every other state, allows solemnization by both civil and religious officiants. Any ordained minister who is at least 18 years of age can perform legally binding wedding ceremonies.

Getting Married in North Carolina

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
2
Min. Age of Witnesses:
18
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

There are two main declarations that must happen in a wedding ceremony in North Carolina to provide sufficient validation. First, the consent to the marriage must be “freely, seriously and plainly expressed” by each person in the couple in front of the officiant and the two adult witnesses. Second, the officiant must officially declare the couple married.

Otherwise, North Carolina adopts a fairly hands-off approach regarding the content of the ceremony. The couple can decide most of the details of the ceremony, including the specific verbiage used in the magistrate or minister's final declaration. This is great news for couples who don't want to use the traditional "husband and wife" statement to punctuate their special day.

Finalizing the Marriage

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

Time is of the essence when it comes to certifying the marriage license with the proper endorsement. The officiant has 10 days from the date the ceremony takes place to ensure all information on the license is accurate and complete, endorse it and then return it to the register of deeds. Officiants must provide their titles ("minister" works best) and the ordaining body (i.e., the Universal Life Church). They may also be asked to include the address of the ministry on the document, in which case they should provide their own.

Failure to meet both the 10-day deadline for filing after the ceremony and the 60-day window requirement that starts on the day the license is obtained can result in a $200 fine. Therefore, strict adherence to the schedule is advised.