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Rhode Island Wedding Laws

Most people in the U.S. know Rhode Island as the smallest state in the country. Rhode Islanders themselves, however, know their home as the Ocean State and take pride in their mouthwatering seafood and spectacular coastlines. Learning about Rhode Island's particular wedding requirements ahead of time can help you ensure that your wedding is beautiful, legally binding, and free from any administrative fuss that may cast a shadow on your special day.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Rhode Island

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

Weddings in Rhode Island can be presided over by people 18 years or older who are state elected officials, administrators, clerks, justices, or magistrates, as well as ordained clergy in good standing. A minister ordained online by the Universal Life Church falls into the latter category and can prove his or her good standing by purchasing the Classic Wedding Package and a Letter of Good Standing, to get all the necessary documentation.

The personal beliefs or gender of the officiant has no bearing on his or her eligibility to perform the ceremony. Rhode Island does not require that the minister be a resident of the state.

Getting Married in Rhode Island

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
2
Min. Age of Witnesses:
None
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

During the wedding ceremony, both members of the couple must express explicit consent to the marriage, e.g., say "I do." The officiant must then make a pronouncement solemnizing the marriage. All this must take place in the presence of at least two witnesses, with all parties present at the same location.

How to Get a Rhode Island Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Rhode Island
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
$24.00
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID or Birth Certificate
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

You should decide who is going to perform the ceremony before you apply because the city clerk will issue the license directly to the officiant instead of to you. If either you or your spouse-to-be has been married before, you must produce proof of legal separation or a certificate of divorce to the clerk when you apply. Rhode Island requires that you pay a fee of $24 to get your marriage license.

If neither you nor your spouse is a resident of Rhode Island, you should apply for your license from the city clerk in the community where the wedding will take place. Otherwise, you should apply in the city where either you or your future spouse lives. In either case, you must apply by presenting to the city clerk in person.

Applying For a Marriage License in Rhode Island

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
3 Months
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 72 Hours of Ceremony

Once you have your Rhode Island marriage license, there is no waiting period before the wedding can take place. However, it is required that the minister officiating the ceremony return the completed license and certificate within 72 hours of the ceremony. The license is valid for three months after it is issued, and the law requires that it be returned at the end of that period to the city clerk who issued wether or not a wedding takes place.

Rhode Island 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

Same-sex couples are free to marry in Rhode Island, and most couples should be able to get a marriage license without too much trouble. There are some reasonable but very detailed restrictions when it comes to the ages and consanguinity of a couple who wishes to marry.

No one in Rhode Island can marry his or her own parent, grandparent, sibling, child, grandparent, stepparent, stepchild, parent's sibling (aunt or uncle), or sibling's child (niece or nephew). These restrictions also include some people to whom you are not related by blood, such as a former spouse's grandchild or a grandparent's former spouse.

Generally, people wishing to marry in Rhode Island must be at least 18 years of age. A parent or guardian may consent to the marriage of a minor at least 16 years old. While it is possible for a minor younger than 16 to get married, it requires authorization by a judge following a referral to family court and an investigation by the Department of Human Services.

Finalizing the Union

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

Because the combined marriage license and certificate is due back at the city clerk's office within 72 hours of the ceremony, the minister must act fast to fill out his or her portion and resubmit it by the deadline. The officiant should fill out "Universal Life Church" when asked for the name of the ordaining ministry and otherwise just fill out his or her name, home address, and title.