L
Just Said Yes May 2012

PA Online Marriage Officiant

Lynanne, on October 5, 2011 at 2:46 PM Posted in Pennsylvania Planning 0 29
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We would like to have a friend officiate our wedding in PA. He'd need to be ordained online and I want to make sure the court will accept our marriage license application. We are getting married in Bucks County so we were planning on using that courthouse, but could easily go to a neighboring county. Has anyone gotten married by an online minister in PA? If so, what online organization did you use? What documentation did you or the officiant have to give to the courthouse so that your online minister could legally officiate your wedding?

29 Comments

Latest activity by Terri, on July 8, 2020 at 11:56 AM
  • Miss Tattoo
    VIP September 2012
    Miss Tattoo ·
    • Flag

    Doesn't work in PA. We tried. PA only will honor online officiants if the officiant has a following and they meet every week for some kind of study meeting or something.

    Are you religious? I'm Buddhist and FI is an evolutionist so we are applying for a self uniting marriage license.

    Officiants:

    Any ordained minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation, Judges, and Justices of Peace may perform wedding ceremonies. Mayors of cities and boroughs are also authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.

    See Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 23, Chapter 15 for more information.

    • Reply
  • Honey B.
    Master May 2012
    Honey B. ·
    • Flag

    Although I haven't gotten married by someone ordained online, I work in a law office in Lehigh County but we do a lot in surrounding counties.

    Your best bet would be to contact the Marriage License department directly.

    http://www.buckscounty.org/government/rowofficers/registerofwills/marriagelicenses.aspx

    That way you get the most correct information.

    P.S. its really neat to find someone on here from the same area && our wedding dates are a week from eachother Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Honey B.
    Master May 2012
    Honey B. ·
    • Flag

    More specific information on PA Marriage Licenses can be found here...

    http://www.buckscounty.org/government/rowofficers/registerofwills/PDF/PAMarriageLawsOfficiants.pdf

    • Reply
  • Honey B.
    Master May 2012
    Honey B. ·
    • Flag

    Miss Tattoo is right ... according to that law anyone ordained on the internet cannot preform a ceremony in PA.

    • Reply
  • Miss Tattoo
    VIP September 2012
    Miss Tattoo ·
    • Flag

    More update

    Note: A marriage performed by a minister ordained via the Internet was declared invalid because the minister did not have a congregation.

    Source: "Marriage Performed by Internet-Ordained “Minister” Declared Invalid" 9/07/2007.

    http://marriage.about.com/cs/marriagelicenses/p/pennsylvania.htm

    • Reply
  • L
    Just Said Yes May 2012
    Lynanne ·
    • Flag

    Thanks guys! I had contacted the Bucks county courthouse a while ago and they didn't really provide much help except to point me to the marriage law.

    I know that York County claimed declared a marriage invalid in 2007 because the minister was ordained online. However, Bucks County actually upheld a marriage by an online minister later in 2008 (Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr.).

    I emailed the courthouse as well to see if they would tell me what online organizations they would accept (the one upheld by Bucks was through Universal Life Church which I think is the biggest online "church") but they haven't emailed me back and I sort of doubt that they will.

    (Melissa - good luck!! I'm getting married at Fonthill in Doylestown...you?)

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  • Celia Milton
    Celia Milton ·
    • Flag

    The article that Miss Tattoo sites is four years old and things have changed. PA is a difficult state this way.

    Bucks county will include, with the license, a statement that your officiant has to sign. It would be well worth them calling the clerk ahead of time and requesting the paperwork so you know BEFORE HAND whether this person will be legal.

    Of course you could always do a courthouse or judge wedding and then have your friend do it just for show.

    (I LOVE Fonthill! I officiated there several years ago, and it's gorgeous; so is the Aldie Mansion; so many pretty places out there.)

    • Reply
  • 2d Bride
    Champion October 2009
    2d Bride ·
    • Flag

    Pennsylvania has an option for a self-uniting marriage--no officiant needed at all. If you followed that procedure, you could have anyone you wanted act as master of ceremonies at the ceremony, without worrying about ordination.

    • Reply
  • L
    Just Said Yes May 2012
    Lynanne ·
    • Flag

    Thanks for all the responses! I called the Philadelphia Marriage License Dept since I've heard they are a bit more liberal.

    I was going to ask about self-uniting marriages, but I started by saying we'd prefer a loved one marry us. However, with the controversy in PA surrounding online "ministers" we were concerned it wouldn't be valid.

    She said since they are getting so many calls they just recently have been allowed to tell people on the phone that an online ordained "minister" is now considered valid (they previously were not allow to tell people that).

    Not sure if every county would have the same response, but it looks like Philly is a go!

    Now on to more fun stuff, like the playlist!!

    Thanks All!!

    • Reply
  • Jenny
    Devoted September 2013
    Jenny ·
    • Flag

    Bringing this old post up because we want to use a self-ordained minister for our marriage in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County), PA. I just called the marriage license office and the clerk told me that internet-ordained ministers are not "recognized" and our marriage could be challenged legally in the future. She said there was no information posted on their web site but they have signs up to the effect in the office (which I won't be able to visit any time soon since I live out of state). She strongly suggested I go to a magistrate instead. I got the impression that it isn't prohibited but it's not encouraged, either.

    Anyone have a marriage with a self-ordained minister, or a self-uniting ceremony in PA recently?

    • Reply
  • Private User
    Just Said Yes June 2014
    Private User ·
    • Flag

    @Jenny How did it work out for you? I want my uncle to marry me but it's so difficult to get a straight answer out of anyone. Did you have a friend get ordained online or go the self uniting path? oh BTW I'm getting married in York County.

    • Reply
  • L
    Just Said Yes May 2012
    Lynanne ·
    • Flag

    Hi! This is the original poster. I am officially married over a year now. Speaking from experience, many PA counties now accept a minister from Universal Life Church, which is the biggest online "church." If you want someone that's not from a traditional "church" to marry you, you can have them ordained there. If York county doesn't accept it, you can use a neighboring county. Bucks def accepts it, that's where we had it done. You don't have to file your marriage license in the same county as the actual ceremony. You can get married in one county and file the license in any other county in PA. Good luck!!

    • Reply
  • P
    Beginner August 2015
    Peony and mint ·
    • Flag

    Http://www.montcopa.org/FAQ.aspx?QID=80

    Hi, this is for Montgomery county, and they allow self uniting ceremonies with two witnesses.

    You just have to let them know when you are applying for the license. Smiley smile Yay!

    • Reply
  • Rev. Stephanie Anne Thompson
    Rev. Stephanie Anne Thompson ·
    • Flag

    Following up on this old post and just want to clarify one thing: the county where a couple applies for a license is the county where the license gets filed. The actual ceremony can be performed ANYWHERE in PENNSYVANIA and the actual marriage certificate will reflect the municipality where the ceremony was performed. It is possible to have a license from Bucks County but the ceremony be performed in Harrisburg, PA.

    • Reply
  • C
    Just Said Yes October 2015
    Christa ·
    • Flag

    Heart Ceremonies, thank you for the information! I was wondering how that would work. We live in York County but are planning a wedding in Dauphin County. We'd love for his cousin to marry us, she's been the closest relative he's had growing up and we'd just feel right having her do it. Guess I have some phone calls to make!

    • Reply
  • P
    Just Said Yes January 2016
    paula ·
    • Flag

    I was ordained through The Aam. And have officiated 3 weddings. In Westmoreland county. Took my credentials with me when filing. It's accepted as legal and binding. I also have a small congregation out of my home.

    • Reply
  • R
    Just Said Yes July 2008
    Richard ·
    • Flag

    I am ordained by The National Association of Christian Ministers and hold a Church charter through them. I have officiated 6 or 7 weddings over the past 3 years. I did serve with an established church until breaking off a year ago. To dare I have not had any problems. I have around 30 in my congregation both in person or online.

    Rev.Richard Collins

    • Reply
  • H
    Just Said Yes April 2017
    Hilary ·
    • Flag

    Our son and his fiancee plan to be married in spring of next year. They do not want a church wedding, but would really like his one brother to officiate. The online ordination sounds like a perfect solution, so I just want to ask here....they could get the license in Bucks, but get married anywhere correct? We live in Berks - no one has offered up any info on what happens in our county. My next step is to call them of course. But the license in Bucks would be valid with an online minister?

    • Reply
  • M
    Just Said Yes April 2017
    Michael ·
    • Flag

    Hi Hilary, have you heard any more news on Berks County? A friend of mine asked me to officiate their wedding next weekend, and I can't really find any solid information.

    • Reply
  • D
    Just Said Yes June 2014
    Danielle ·
    • Flag

    Michael C. - Pennsylvania recognizes self-uniting marriages, which do not require an ordained officiant or magistrate. Not all of the counties issue them, but Chester, Philadelphia, and Montgomery definitely do. Also, in PA, the license is filed in the county in which it's applied for, but the wedding can be in any county. The couple just needs to go and apply for a self-uniting marriage certificate, then they can get married with or without an "officiant", I.e. you... Then they just complete and file the certificate in the application county. If they want to get their license in a different county than the ones I listed, they should call first and confirm the county issues them (Delaware County is notoriously difficult)

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