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South Carolina Wedding Laws

Full of old-world charm and gorgeous views, South Carolina makes for an idyllic place to hold a marriage ceremony. Whether the couple wants to marry on a beach, in a mansion, near a forest or in virtually any other setting, the Palmetto State has something for every couple. While planning the marriage ceremony may be the couple's top priority, it is critical for the officiant and both members of the couple to know how to solemnize a legally binding marriage in South Carolina. This guide discusses the state's specific and unique marriage requirements. Continue reading to learn about marriage laws, license requirements and the obligations of all parties.

South 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

To marry in South Carolina, both members of the couple must be at least 18. Those who are 16 and 17 and living with parents may marry in the Palmetto State with the consent of their parents or legal guardians. To prove consent, the couple must provide sworn affidavits from parents or legal guardians.

South Carolina law allows both residents and nonresidents to marry in the state. Pursuant to federal law, the state must also recognize same-sex unions. It does not, however, allow mentally incompetent individuals to marry. Furthermore, all blood relatives closer than first cousins may neither apply for a marriage license nor wed in South Carolina.

How to Get a South Carolina Marriage License

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

If members of the couple are between 18 and 25, both must present a valid photo ID or social security card to a probate judge or county clerk to obtain a marriage license. The couple must appear in person.

Each county in South Carolina has a different fee structure for marriage license applications, regardless of whether the couple resides in the state or somewhere else. Consequently, it is important to check with the probate judge or county clerk to determine the cost of the license application.

South Carolina law does not require the couple to provide previous divorce decrees. Likewise, the couple does not have to submit the results of a blood test.

Applying For a Marriage License in South Carolina

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
24 Hours
License Valid For:
6 Months
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 15 Days of Ceremony

Probate judges and county clerks require couples to submit completed marriage license applications at least 24 hours before they will issue marriage licenses. When submitting the forms, the couple must list their social security numbers.

After a probate judge or county clerk issues a marriage license, it is valid for six months. If a probate judge or county clerk does not follow procedure, a $100 fine and a 30-day jail sentence are possible.

Marrying couples receive three copies of the marriage license from the probate judge or county clerk. The couple must give all copies of the license to the officiating minister. The minister must then complete the licenses after the ceremony and return two licenses to the office that issued the license. The minister must typically return the completed licenses within 15 days. In Lexington County, though, ministers have 30 days to return the completed licenses.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in South Carolina

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

South Carolina law only allows certain individuals to perform marriage ceremonies. The group of approved officials includes ministers of the Gospel, Jewish rabbis, officers of the state who are legally entitled to administer oaths, and leaders of recognized Native American Indian tribes.

Ministers who receive their ordination from Universal Life Church are recognized as religious actors in the Palmetto State. Consequently, Universal Life Church ministers may officiate at wedding ceremonies, provided they are at least 18.

The place of residence, gender, and belief systems of ministers do not disqualify them from solemnizing marriages in South Carolina. The Universal Life Church's Classic Wedding Package includes ordination certificates and other documents to prove a ministry association.

Getting Married in South Carolina

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

In South Carolina, marrying couples and wedding officiants are generally free to craft the marriage ceremonies they want. Nevertheless, state law requires both members of the couple to consent to the marriage. The minister also must pronounce the couple legally married.

While South Carolina law requires no witnesses, it does require the officiant and both members of the couple to be physically present at the ceremony.

Finalizing the Marriage

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

While many ministers focus on the intricacies of marriage ceremonies, they have work to do after ceremonies end as well.

South Carolina law requires ministers to complete and sign all three copies of the marriage license. One copy stays with the married couple, while the other two must go back to the issuing office within 15 days. In Lexington County, the deadline to return the marriage licenses is 30 days from the date of the ceremony.

When completing marriage licenses, Universal Life Church ministers should include their minister titles, names and home addresses. Where the license asks for the name of the religious organization, ministers should list Universal Life Church Ministries.