These states are where you can - and can't - get married online

Tags: regulations, marriage-law, technology, coronavirus, virtual-weddings

Published: Monday, May. 11th, 2020

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Zoomweddings

Headlines might have you thinking that Zoom weddings are legal across the country, but we're not quite there... yet.

It's true that a small handful of state officials have realized that desperate times call for drastic measures, and issued legal orders that give couples explicit permission to obtain their marriage license and/or have their marriage solemnized via video conferencing platforms.

But as it stands, most states have marriage laws that would prevent such ceremonies from being legally binding, and haven’t provided any official statements or clear guidance on having wedding ceremonies that are officiated remotely. 

Here's the latest rundown on where you can - and can't - get hitched or perform marriage online:

 

California

Couples can apply for marriage licenses via video conference ✓

Officiants can perform marriage via video conference ✓

On April 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order that will, through the month of June, allow couples to apply for their marriage license via video conference "at the discretion of county clerks."

Couples can also solemnize their marriage via video conference “as long as both parties are present, and have at least one witness who can join the live video conference.”

Again, this order is set to expire at the end of June 2020.

 

Illinois

Couples can apply for marriage licenses via video conference ✓

Officiants can perform marriage via video conference ✓

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued an order giving couples the right to apply for their marriage licenses and solemnize their marriages via video conference, starting May 1, 2020.

Couples can get married utilizing two-way audio-video communication technology (Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms), but couples must still interact with their officiant in real time during the ceremony, which means no pre-recorded “I do’s".  The couple must also show photo identification and attest to being physically present in the state. 

There is no specified expiration for this order.

 

New Jersey

Couples can apply for marriage licenses via video conference ✓

Officiants can perform marriage via video conference ✓

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 135, which, effective May 4, suspends in-person requirements for receipt of a marriage license and marriage ceremonies. It authorizes couples to obtain their marriage license and/or have their marriage solemnized via video conference. It also suspends the 72-hour waiting period between the license application and issuance, extends the period that a license is valid from 30 to 90 days, and waives fees imposed for the issuance of a second marriage or civil union license if the original has expired.

There is no specified expiration for this order.

 

New York

Couples can apply for marriage licenses via video conference ✓

Officiants can perform marriage via video conference ✓

Procedures for Virtual Marriage Ceremonies Conducted by Non-City Clerk’s Office Marriage Officiants

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely, and clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference.

“Video marriage ceremonies. There is now no excuse when the question comes up for marriage,” Cuomo said. “You can do it by Zoom. It’s ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

There is no specified expiration for this order.

 

Hawaii

Officiants CANNOT perform marriage via video conference ✗

In a letter sent to American Marriage Ministries and other wedding officiants, Alvin T. Onaka of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics wrote that in order “For a marriage to be valid, section 572-1(7), Hawaii Revised Statutes, requires that the marriage ceremony be performed in the State by a person or society with a valid license to solemnize marriages and the parties to be married and the person performing the marriage ceremony all be physically present at the same place and time for the marriage ceremony.”

There you have it, loud and clear: in Hawaii, the couple and their wedding officiant must be physically present.

 

Ohio*

Officiants CANNOT perform marriage via video conference ✗

Ever the diligent professional wedding officiant, AMM Minister Atonn Smeltzer of Weddings for the Ages did very thorough research, and consulted his local government. After speaking with several county clerks' offices, he reached out directly to the Ohio Attorney General.

Atonn relayed that “it is the opinion of the Ohio Attorney General that a legally binding marriage ceremony could not be performed via online meeting - for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the following: the county marriage license forms are all still paper, and can't be signed online; and an officiant probably can't properly verify the identities of the participants in that kind of setting."

*Cuyahoga County is currently allowing couples to obtain their marriage license via video conference, but they cannot have their marriage solemnized virtually.

 

Tennessee

Officiants CANNOT perform marriage via video conference ✗

AMM Minister Tim Hooker of Ocoee Ministries was told directly by Tennessee county clerks that officiants are physically “required to be in the presence” of the couple in order to legally perform marriage.

 

Other States

In states that have not officially authorized virtual weddings, nothing has changed, and we continue to urge couples to consult their local government officials or family law attorneys before proceeding with an online ceremony.

We're also doing our best to update our Weddings By State pages, where you can find out what's going on in your state.

 


 

If you've been in touch with your local clerks or other government officials, we'd love to hear from you: [email protected]

 

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