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Wisconsin Wedding Laws

Wisconsin has something for everyone, including marrying couples and wedding coefficients. With hundreds of miles of shoreline, scenic hills and vast swaths of farmland, the Badger State is the perfect place for a gorgeous wedding in nature. If the couple has more cosmopolitan tastes, walking down the aisle in Madison or Milwaukee is an excellent option. While finding the right venue, selecting a menu and picking a band may be high on the priority list for any marrying couple, it is critical to comply with Wisconsin's unique marriage laws. After all, failing to do so may result in a marriage that is not legally binding. This guide explains the legal requirements for a valid marriage in the Badger State. Whether you intend to marry in dairy country or to officiate a wedding somewhere in Wisconsin, you can find important details about your legal responsibilities in the next sections.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Wisconsin

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:
Varies by County
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

Wisconsin only allows for those who are at least 18 to officiate weddings. The Universal Life Church only ordains ministers who are at least 18, so there should be no conflict with state law. Furthermore, the residence, gender, and belief systems of ministers do not matter.

Those who want to officiate a wedding in the Badger State should pursue online ordination. Then, it is important to visit the county clerk's office to see which documents are necessary. The clerk may want to see ordination credentials or ask for additional information.Because the practices of county clerks may differ, the minister must work with the same clerk's office that issues the marriage license. The Universal Life Church's Classic Wedding Package contains the ordination certificate and other documents ministers may need.

Getting Married in Wisconsin

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

Wisconsin does not allow proxy marriages. Consequently, all necessary parties must appear in person at the wedding ceremony. Under state law, necessary parties include the minister, the couple and two competent adult witnesses.

The only legal requirements for a solemnized wedding are the couple's expression of consent and the minister's pronouncement of the marriage. Other than these, marrying couples and officiants may create the ceremony they want with little interference from the state.

How to Get a Wisconsin Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Wisconsin
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
$49.50 + Fees
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID and Birth Certificate
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

Before marrying, couples in Wisconsin must apply for a marriage license. To do so, the couple must apply in person at a county clerk's office. Nevertheless, during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual applications are possible. The cost to apply for a marriage license in the Badger State is $45.50 plus fees.

Typically, the couple must pick up a marriage license in person after providing a birth certificate and government-issued photo identification. If either member of the couple has divorced, the couple must also furnish divorce decrees. Because of COVID-19, couples must also provide proof of residency to pick up a marriage license.

Couples do not have to submit to a blood test or provide test results to secure a marriage license. Nonetheless, if county clerks question the completeness or accuracy of any information in the marriage license application, they may ask a judge to weigh in on the matter.

Applying For a Marriage License in Wisconsin

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
5-7 Days
License Valid For:
30 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 3 Days of Ceremony

Even though Wisconsin law allows for both religious and civil ceremonies, Universal Life Church ministers are ordained religious actors. Consequently, couples who want a ULC minister to officiate at their weddings should indicate the religious nature of the ceremony.

To comply with state law, all issued marriage licenses have written warnings about both fetal alcohol syndrome and cocaine use during pregnancy. This language is standard, and couples should take no offense.

After obtaining a marriage license, couples must wait roughly five to seven days before holding their marriage ceremonies. If couples wish to marry sooner, they may pay a fee to expedite the marriage license application process. This fee is usually around $25.

Marriage licenses in Wisconsin are valid for a month. After completing the marriage ceremony, the completed marriage license must return to the county clerk who issued it within three days.

Wisconsin Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18, or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required (Required During COVID)
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
Second Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

Wisconsin law requires both members of the marrying couple to be at least 18. There is a provision in the law for 16- and 17-year-olds to marry with the express consent of a parent or legal guardian, however.

Wisconsin does not allow anyone who has divorced in the previous six months to marry. Consequently, if the date on either member of the couple's divorce decree falls within the six months before the wedding date, the ceremony may require postponement.

First cousins may not marry in the Badger State. There is an exception to this rule, however if a woman is over the age of 55 or either member of the couple is permanently sterile. State law requires proving permanent sterility with a medical affidavit.

Wisconsin does not have a residency requirement for marriage, so neither member of the couple must live in the state. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a temporary residency requirement for applying for marriage licenses in Wisconsin.

Finally, like with all other states in the U.S., Wisconsin law recognizes marriage equality. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike are welcome to marry in dairy country.

Finalizing the Union

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

Even though officiating at the ceremony is a large part of the minister's job description, the job does not end when the ceremony does. Instead, ministers must complete the relevant section of the marriage license using unfading black ink.

When completing the Wisconsin marriage license, ULC ministers should use "minister" when prompted for their title. They should also list the ordaining body as Universal Life Church Ministries and provide their home address for the address of the church.

Once the minister completes the marriage license and reviews it for accuracy, the license should go back to the register of deeds in the county where the license was issued. Couples and ministers only have 3 days after the ceremony to get this task done.