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A Guide to Virtual Wedding Ceremonies in Utah: For Officiants & Couples

Published Thursday, Mar. 18th, 2021

Has Covid-19 given your wedding plans the pandemic blues? If so, you're not alone.


Updated May, 2024: Special thanks to Russ J. Rampton, Digital Services Supervisor & Utah County Deputy Clerk for providing us with up-to-date information. Contact the Utah County Clerk's office with any additional questions on performing remote appearance ceremonies.



Thousands of couples and officiants have had to rapidly change their wedding plans or postpone. If you're lucky, you may have been able to host a small ceremony with friends and family with proper safety measures.


However, for those who are unsure of what to do in these crazy times, hope is on the horizon. With modern technology, many states and counties are introducing ways for the couple to obtain their marriage license and have the officiant perform the ceremony 100% online.


Utah County, in the state of Utah, is one of the first place to allow this practice in a fully online format. Couples are able to apply for their marriage license and fill out all the necessary documents over the web, and as long as the wedding officiant is physically located in Utah, then the ceremony will be legally binding - even for those living internationally.



It's important to note that Utah County is the only county in Utah that allows this.


Here, we'll cover the process for both the officiant and the couple.




How To Officiate a Remote Wedding Ceremony in Utah


Steps for the Wedding Officiant


STEP 1: Get ordained with American Marriage Ministries



Utah Law (30-1-6) states that: “(2) The following individuals may solemnize a marriage: (a) an individual 18 years old or older who is authorized by a religious denomination to solemnize a marriage... 


This is great news for you! You can become an ordained minister online with American Marriage Ministries. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.


In order to perform a remote ceremony in Utah, the officiant must be physically located in Utah at the time of the ceremony, and any marriage license “issued within this state by a county clerk may only be used within this state,” (Utah Code 30-1-7).




STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in Utah County



Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. 


Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but can feel like a lot of pressure. You'll appreciate our wedding officiant training pages, which are a comprehensive library of information and tips for first time officiants, to help you prepare and ensure that your first wedding ceremony goes smoothly. You'll find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts and templates, to brainstorming prompts, and more.


Even though the ceremony is remote, it's still just as special as an in-person wedding and carries with it the same weight. You'll want to make sure that you're prepared to give the couple a memory to last a lifetime.



STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License


It’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain the marriage license. They can do this completely online from anywhere in the world! There are no residency or citizenship requirements.


Your job will be to officiate the ceremony and then sign and file the marriage license electronically. The marriage license is only valid for 32 days so it's important to perform the ceremony within that time frame.


The license is issued electronically (as a digital marriage license) and takes the form of a unique URL for that couple. The URL is sent to the couple after they apply for the license, and they will then send it to you, the officiant.


As of May 1st, 2024, the wedding ceremony must include a verbal 'declaration of intent,' which means that both parties to the marriage must state their willingness to marry. There are no other specific requirements in Utah for wording, nature, tone, or other aspects of the ceremony. All other aspects of the ceremony are left up to you, the couple, and any cultural traditions or religious tenets you choose to include.  


After performing the ceremony, the officiant (that's you!) will use this URL to submit the information necessary to finalize and file the marriage certificate.

Once that's complete, you have successfully completed your job as the officinant.



Next up, let's look at the steps the couple needs to take! Read on... 




image of a marriage license

Utah County's online portal makes it possible for couples to get their

Utah marriage license online, from anywhere in the country... and anywhere in the world. 




How To Get Married in Utah Remotely

Resources for the Couple


The first step to being able to get married online is obtaining the marriage license. 

Traditionally, this is accomplished by both parties going in person to the county clerk’s office in the county where they'll physically hold the ceremony. 


However, as you can see, Utah County provides a unique exception to this requirement. If your officiant is physically located in Utah, you can obtain your marriage license from anywhere in the world regardless of citizenship or nationality.


During the ceremony, the officiant must be physically located within the state of Utah, and assigned as the designated host of the video-conference session (remote appearance ceremony), in order to use the Utah marriage license. That physical location will be needed to complete the license.



How to file for your marriage license:


Even though applying for your marriage license is a big step, the process itself is very easy. You'll begin by using the Utah County Online Application.


To begin with, both applicants will need a valid email address. Utah County will send you an automated email with an application link to the first email and both parties will use that same link.


As noted on the Utah County website, this process has recently been updated to make things easier for international applicants. The website states: "It is no longer necessary to use a US based address when completing an application. ALL APPLICANTS should provide their current mailing address and provide their correct State/Province and Country of birth."


Both parties to the marriage must also provide documentation to verify their age, legal name, and identity. They will also need to sign an affadavit stating they agree to personal jurisdiction in Utah if they divorce or annul their marriage. This means that if the couple chooses to end their marriage, they must follow Utah's divorce laws.


Note that as of May 1st, 2024, Power of Attorney cannot be used to apply for a remote marriage license. 



Items You Will Need to Complete Your Application:


  • A valid credit or debit card to pay the license fee


  • An unexpired, government issued ID card, Driver's License, Passport, or Military ID for each applicant (IDs from a country outside the U.S. can be validated by their system)


  • If a divorce has been granted within the last 60 days, a certified copy of the divorce decree


  • Access to a printer (to print the officiant worksheet and instructions, you will receive the license through a unique URL)


  • You’ll need the following information to complete the form, so make sure you have these details ahead of time: name, address, social security number (if applicable), date and place of birth, names of the applicants’ respective parents and their places of birth



Tips for completing the online application:


  • If possible, use Google Chrome when filling out your application. And, try to avoid using a Mac or an iphone if you can. PCs are known to work best on their system.


  • You don’t have to complete the application in one sitting. The system will save your progress between devices and between sessions.


  • Both applicants do not have to be in the same physical location to complete the online application, but you will have to complete it in sequence as if you were in the same spot. This means that the second person can’t begin to fill out their portion of the application until the first person has finished the section. If you aren’t filling out the application in the same physical place, applicant 1 should register their email and complete their portion before sending their fiance the application link.


  • You'll need to send a clear, non-blurry picture of the front and back of your ID and it will have to be free of glare. To do this, turn off the flash on your camera and or any other special features like motion or 3D.


  • You'll need to take a selfie that matches the picture on your ID. Your face should fill the entire photo just like a passport photo and make sure not to wear any article of clothing that obstructs your face unless it is something you wore in your ID photo as well. 


image of a young couple sitting with a laptop, working together to complete their online application for the marriage license

A destination wedding in Utah without leaving home! 

There are no residency or citizenship requirements to obtain a marriage license in Utah, 

so you can apply from anywhere in the world. Just make sure that your wedding officiant is physically located in Utah during the ceremony. 


During the ceremony


During remote appearance ceremonies, all participants are connected through video conferencing software that allows everyone involved to see and hear all other participants in real time. It’s essential that the officiant and witnesses are able to clearly see and hear each party willingly enter the marriage commitment. 


During the ceremony, your officiant will act as host. In order for the marriage to be valid, the host location must be physically located within the boundaries of the State of Utah. This host location will be listed on the marriage certificate and establishes the jurisdiction for the marriage.


Utah also requires that wedding ceremonies include two witnesses over the age of 18. These witnesses can join the celebration remotely, but they must be able to see and hear all activity in real time. 


As of May 1st, 2024, your ceremony must include a verbal 'declaration of intent,' which means that you must state your willingness to marry. There are no other specific requirements in Utah for wording, nature, tone, or other aspects of the ceremony. All other aspects of the ceremony are left up to you, the couple, and any cultural traditions or religious tenets you choose to include.  


After the Ceremony


After your officiant has digitally signed and submitted the marriage license, the Utah County system will auto-generate a digital, certified copy of the Marriage License and Certificate of Completed Marriage. 


This information is stored in the county’s database, making the marriage official. The next business day, the County marriage license office will print a certified copy of your license and mail it to the address you’ve requested. 



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