Chicago, Illinois Wedding Guide
Become a Wedding Officiant in Chicago as an AMM Ordained Minister. Learn more about getting ordained in Illinois, officiant training, wedding ceremony planning, and more.
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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.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to Illinois state law, an officiant of any religious denomination may perform a marriage ceremony, provided that he or she is in good standing with his or her religious denomination.
If you’re not already qualified, you can get ordained with AMM to become licensed to perform marriage ceremonies in Illinois. The process is free and takes just a few minutes!
The Illinois government does not license, register, or certify ministers or wedding officiants, so once you’re signed up with us, you’re ready to start performing wedding ceremonies!
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 will appreciate our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
When it comes to the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain it from the county clerk’s office, but just be sure to double check that they have it with them before you perform the ceremony.
After the “I do’s,” you, the officiant, must complete the bottom portion of the marriage license and mail or deliver it to the 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.
Before getting married in Chicago or suburban Cook County, couples must obtain a marriage license from the Cook County Clerk's office. You can start the process online and finish it at the Clerk’s office.
When you go, just remember to bring:
That’s it! If you bring the required documentation and payment for the marriage license fee, you will be issued your marriage license and will be able to use it on the same day!
Issuance Office: Cook County Clerk's Office
Waiting Period: 1 Day Before Completing
Expiration: 60 Days
Return: Within 10 Days from the Wedding
For The Couple
While most American couples prefer outdoor weddings, couples tying the knot in Illinois prefer to say their vows indoors, regardless of the season, according to The Knot. During your search for the perfect venue, you may find that many are indoors -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t find spots that offer outdoor accommodations if you want to take advantage of a beautiful summer evening in Chicago.
For instance, Galleria Marchetti offers two spaces for your wedding day: The Pavilion and La Pergola. Both are great options if you want to feel like you’re out in nature, but don’t want the liability of planning a reception in the elements. Its main space features a tented atmosphere along with their outdoor garden for the ceremony and cocktails, while the pergola offers an indoor space with floor to ceiling windows that let the surrounding gardens envelop you.
Another unmissable venue for the nature lover is The Crystal Gardens on Chicago’s Navy Pier, home to a one-acre botanical garden encapsulated in a six-story glass atrium. Inside, you’ll find 80 live palm trees, lush foliage, fountains and hanging twinkle lights. You can’t go wrong with this venue!
Or, if you like to think outside the box, you may want to check out Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. Just imagine your outdoor wedding taking place beneath the magical views of Chicago’s skyline with 200 of your closest friends aboard as the city lights twinkle by.
While there are many other stunning options in Chicago, these are our top favorites. As you continue your search, keep in mind that your Cook County-issued marriage license is only valid within the county limits. So, if you’d like to take advantage of one of the many lovely venues elsewhere in Illinois, you should apply for a marriage license in that particular county.
Chicago’s streets are organized by a grid system. State Street divides it east and west, while Madison Street divides the city north and south. The intersection of State and Madison marks the starting point of Chicago’s grid system. Addresses are relative to the distance from this point, with eight blocks to every mile. So, an address of 3600 N. Clark St. means that it is 36 blocks north of Madison Street.
If you’re looking to get around town on the cheap, Chicago’s got you covered. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the nation’s second-largest public transportation system. You can easily navigate its above-ground, street-level and subway system by using CTA’s website. However, if you don’t have the time to spend figuring out how to use the public transit system, Lyft and Uber are also available in town.
The weather in Chicago is fairly typical Midwestern weather: cool and windy in the fall, cold and snowy in the winter, cool and wet in the spring, and hot in the summer. If you want to host an outdoor wedding, the best months are May, June and September, when the weather has reached a blissful, happy medium between extreme hot and cold temps. But don’t be afraid to choose an off-season month and opt for an indoor venue; you’ll be guaranteed to get a better rate on a venue.
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.
Are AMM ministers legal in Illinois?
Yes, Internet ministers, including those from AMM, are allowed to officiate weddings in the state of Illinois.
Do ministers need to register their credentials with the state?
No, Illinois does not license or register ministers, so once you’re ordained with us, you are free to start performing marriages in the state of Illinois.
Where can we get married with our Cook County-issued marriage license?
Your marriage license is valid only in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
How long is our marriage license valid?
Cook County used to maintain a 60 days expiration for marriage licenses, but now, there is no time frame after you obtain your marriage license in which you must hold your ceremony.
When is our marriage license due back to the county clerk’s office?
Cook County used to maintain a 10 day expiration period after the ceremony had taken place, but now, the license may be returned any time after the ceremony has taken place.
Who should return the marriage license to the county clerk’s office?
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