How to Become an Ordained Minister in Pennsylvania

If you haven't yet become ordained with the Universal Life Church, that is the first step. Anyone willing can become a legal minister of the ULC, one of the world's largest religious organizations. Online ordination is fast, easy, and completely free. Once you have your minister license, you'll be eligible to officiate a wedding. To become a minister, start by clicking the button below!

Become Ordained!

How to Officiate a Wedding in Pennsylvania

Contact the local county clerk's office. Introduce yourself as a minister officiating a wedding, and ask them what documents they will need from you. They may ask to see a number of things, and be aware that these requirements vary from county to county. Rest assured that any materials or documents you might need are available in the Church Supplies section of our website.

Please note: although the ULC is officially recognized in the state of Pennsylvania, some county clerks personally refuse to process paperwork for weddings performed by ministers ordained online. If you encounter one such clerk, we recommend that the couple obtain its license from a different county clerk's office, if possible.

Regardless of which county office issues the marriage license, the couple will be able to use it to hold a wedding in any location within state borders. The clerks' offices in the counties of Philadelphia, Luzerne, and Bucks have traditionally accepted weddings performed by ULC ministers -- we encourage couples to obtain licenses from those counties in order to ensure a smooth process.

Select your county to view contact information for each office:

The Pennsylvania state flower, the Mountain Laurel

What Do You Need to Perform a Wedding in Pennsylvania

Once you've determined what you need, simply log in to your account and order the materials from our online catalog. We usually advise our ministers in Pennsylvania to get a Classic Wedding Kit. Although ministers are generally not required to register in the state of Pennsylvania, it's possible the county clerk will ask you to present proof of your ordination before they will accept the legality of the ceremonies you've performed. As requested by the county clerks, please try to place your order well in advance of the wedding to avoid complications.

How to Get a Pennsylvania Marriage License

As a minister, it's your responsibility to understand how marriage licenses work in Pennsylvania and its individual counties. For example, if the couple plans to get a Delaware County marriage license, you should double-check if there are any rules specific to Delaware County.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the license is valid for 60 days. There is a mandatory 3-day waiting period between the time it is picked up, and when the ceremony can be legally performed. Lastly, the signed marriage license must be returned to the issuing office within 10 days of the ceremony.

How to Perform a Wedding

Congratulations, you're ready to officiate the wedding! If you need any assistance in this important task, we encourage you to utilize the tools below. Together these exclusive resources include everything you'll need to craft the perfect wedding ceremony for any couple. Created with our ministers in mind, they offer tips and helpful information for all aspects of performing a ceremony. Fun fact: many ULC ministers have become professional officiants using these tools as a guide!

Finalizing the Marriage

After you perform the ceremony, you will sign the marriage license along with the couple. Your title is 'minister', the ceremony type is 'religious', and the denomination is 'non-denominational'. You will not be required to provide a license number, and witnesses are not required. You may also wish to give the couple a commemorative gift, like a marriage certificate to mark their special day. Last thing: make sure the signed license gets resubmitted to the marriage office before the deadline!

Pennsylvania Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in Pennsylvania are primarily directed by Chapter 15 of Title 23 of the code of Pennsylvania. This section defines persons authorized to perform a marriage in the State of Pennsylvania, which includes ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church, among other individuals. We've reproduced the relevant portion below:

§ 1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.

(a) General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:

(1) A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.

(2) A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:

(i) has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;

(ii) has not been defeated for reelection or retention;

(iii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iv) has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;

(v) has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and

(vi) is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(3) An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania.

(3.1) An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(4) An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(5) A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.

(5.1) A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:

(i) has not been defeated for reelection;

(ii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iii) has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies;

(iv) has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and

(v) is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(6) A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.

(b) Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

(c) Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.

(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)

2004 Amendment. See sections 28 and 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability and construction of law.