How to Officiate Weddings in Chicago
American Marriage Ministries Guide to Performing Marriage in the Windy City
Illinois marriage law states that church officials and religious leaders who are in good standing with their denominations can preside over weddings in the state of Illinois. That means that ministers ordained by American Marriage Ministries are legally allowed to perform wedding ceremonies and sign marriage licenses in Chicago, Illinois.
This legal right is available by getting ordained online, after which you can officiate weddings. This page covers the steps required to perform weddings in Chicago. We also answer questions about how to perform weddings and handle the marriage license.
The first order of business is to get ordained, since that’s the fastest and easiest way to perform weddings in Chicago. As an AMM Minister, you are not required to register with any government office. Illinois marriage law does not require minister registration, and no office dedicated to filing ministry credentials. However, private institutions and couples often ask to see proof of ordination. We recommend ordering our Illinois Minister Ordination Package to keep personal records of your ministry credentials.
You Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
Marriage licenses issued by the Cook County Clerk’s office are valid only in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The marriage license is valid the following calendar day after they are issued, and valid for 60 days. After the wedding ceremony, you as the officiant must complete and sign your portion of the marriage license. If you have questions about this process, check out our page on Wedding Officiant Guidelines for Completing Marriage Licenses.
You Must Return the Completed Marriage License to the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
As the wedding officiant, you are responsible for completing the bottom portion of the marriage license and returning it to the clerk's office. You can return the marriage license in person or mail it back to the Clerk.
If this is your first time officiating a wedding, you probably still have questions. Our mission here at American Marriage Ministries is to make this process as simple and enjoyable as possible. Below are common questions that we hear from our Chicago, Ill ministers. If you still have questions, or just want to learn more about officiating a wedding ceremony, please check out our wedding training section for instruction and inspiration.▲ TOP
The Couple Applies for a Marriage License from the Cook County Clerk’s Office
The couple must appear together at one of the Cook County Clerk's six office locations for their marriage license. The couple can begin the marriage license application process online an finish it by applying in person at the Clerk’s office. At the clerk’s office, both partners will be required to show valid identification with proof of age. The Marriage License Fee is $60.
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Chicago. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
The Basics -- Chicago is served by two airports: O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport. Once you’re on the ground, it’s pretty simple getting to the city center. Chicago has a great subway/elevated rapid transit rail service connecting the city with its airports. From Downtown, the Blue Line runs to O'Hare in about 45 minutes and the Orange Line runs to Midway in about 30 minutes. Taxis can be expensive. Expect upwards of $40 for O'Hare and $30 for Midway. There are also rideshare options.
Walking & Driving -- Once you’re downtown, your mobility options are even more extensive since the downtown core is quite walkable. When visiting, take advantage of the wide sidewalks, beautiful architecture and cultural attractions on offer. Worried about the weather? There’s something for that too. The Chicago Pedway System is a series of underground, ground-level, and above-ground passages that connect downtown buildings for pedestrians looking to avoid cold or snow.▲ TOP
Illinois marriage law states that marriage can be solemnized “in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group.” That means that they must be in good standing with the denomination, tribe, or group that has conferred their status.
In addition, weddings can be performed by “a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages.” In Indiana, mayors and city clerks can marry couples. If you are in doubt, don’t hesitate to check with your local county clerk to get confirmation.
The marriage license issued by the Cook County Clerk’s office is effective the following calendar day after it is issued.
Marriage licenses are valid for 60 days starting from the date they are issued to the couple. This means that you should not apply for the license more than two months before the ceremony, and ideally leave yourself enough time to complete the license and return it to the clerk’s office.
After performing the wedding, the officiant must complete the bottom portion of the marriage license and return it to the Clerk's office in person or by mail.
The couple can fill out the Clerk’s Online Marriage Application. After the application has been submitted, the couple must still appear together at one of the Clerk’s six locations. Once there, the couple should inform the clerk that they filled out their application online. They will be asked to present valid identification with proof of age.
The couple can order an official copy of their marriage certificate from the Cook County Clerk’s office. The marriage certificate is a legal document proving they are married. Cook County does not automatically issue a copy of the official marriage certificate to the couple. The couple does not need one to be legally married, but many couples want a copy to keep for their own records. The couple can order their official marriage license copies from the Cook County Clerk.