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Knowledgebase
Marriage Question California
Posted by Brother Kevin on 30 September 2008 03:51 AM

As a Universal Life Church minister, if you are at least 18 years old, you may officiate marriage in California. The state does not require you to provide proof of your ordination nor to register your status as a minister. However, if you officiate a marriage in another state, you may be required to do so. After submitting your ordination application through the ULC.NET website, your ordination will be reviewed by a human, as is required by the laws of some states (it is NOT a "computer" or "online" ordination, just because the application is submitted over the Internet). If you have provided all the required information, your application will be approved, and we will send you a confirmation message by email, showing your name, address, and date of ordination, along with other information. Your record will be kept on file permanently in the official church records in Modesto, California, and may be verified if needed.

You do not need to obtain a credential certificate or any other items in order to officiate marriage in California, although many ministers like to have one anyway, to show to the bride and groom (or their parents!) to reassure them if needed. In California, you are not required to provide the couple with a marriage certificate, but it is a nice, professional touch. You can find official ULC marriage certificates on the web site.

In addition to credential certificates, we offer a nice wallet credential, printed on high quality polyester/PVC blend cardstock, and overlaid with a holographic security protective layer. They are very professional and long-lasting. We also offer marriage certificates (optional, but a nice touch to provide one to the couples you marry), ceremony guide books (to make your job easier), and even clergy shirts for a traditional look.

You must obtain the marriage license from the couple in advance of the ceremony, in order to make sure that there is one, that it is valid for the date you officiate the marriage, and so that this is not forgotten in the excitement after the ceremony. In California, it is a crime to solemnize a marriage without having first reviewed the marriage license for validity! After the ceremony, you will fill out the blanks on the form. Print, except for your signature, and use black ink. You and the witnesses will sign the form. If it asks for your denomination, put "Universal Life." It is YOUR job to make sure that the completed license is returned to the county clerk for recording within 10 days of the ceremony (very important). It is a good idea to make a photocopy of the completed license before returning it and for you to keep this copy in your permanent records.

If you return the license by mail, use certified mail and hold onto a copy of the receipt (staple it to the photocopy of the marriage license you made). You don't need to get a return receipt. You can use the number on the receipt to establish that it was delivered.

The state will not automatically send an official copy of the recorded license to the couple, which they will need for their records and to conduct various business transactions in the future. A nice, professional touch is for you to order a copy of the license for them at the time you return the license for recording. Be sure to let them know that you have done this, or they will think the state was their benefactor instead of you! If you return the license by mail, you can print out the order form online.

The State of California maintains a useful FAQ on its web site, which you will want to review as well.

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