Published: Thursday, Mar. 18th, 2021
Updated September, 2021
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 one party in the ceremony resides in Utah (either the couple or the officiant) 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.
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... ”
It's important to note that in order to perform a remote ceremony in Utah, either the couple or the officiant must have a host location in Utah. Any marriage license “issued within this state by a county clerk may only be used within this state,” (Utah Code 30-1-7).
If you aren’t in Utah, you can still get ordained online with AMM and legally perform weddings in all 50 states, but you won’t be able to do a virtual wedding in Utah unless you or one of the partners being married is physically in Utah at the time of the wedding.
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.
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 the license electronically. The marriage license is only valid for 30 days so it's important to perform the ceremony within that time frame.
The license is issued electronically 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, who will use it 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.
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.
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 you have an officiant who resides in Utah, you can obtain your marriage license from anywhere in the world regardless of citizenship or nationality.
During the ceremony, at least one member of the couple, or the officiant, must be physically located within the state of Utah, and assigned as the designated host of the videoconference session, in order to use the Utah marriage license. That physical location will be needed to complete the 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."
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.
If you're unable to complete the online application process for any reason, you can still apply for your license remotely by scheduling a virtual office visit with a County Clerk over video conference (using an online platform similar to Zoom, Skype, or Google Meets). This can be scheduled via a portal on the Utah County website’s Marriage Licenses page.
During videoconference ceremonies, called ‘web-conference weddings’ by Utah County, 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, one of the locations is designated as the host location. 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.
There are no 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 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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