No Wedding Officiants in Alabama? Understanding Alabama’s new marriage license requirements

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No Wedding Officiants in Alabama? Understanding Alabama’s new marriage license requirements

Our friends over at American Marriage Ministries have gotten a lot of questions from couples asking about Alabama’s new marriage license requirements. Specifically, folks are wondering about a new rule passed into law last year that seems to eliminate the role of the wedding officiant!?

The good news is that Alabama’s new marriage process is more of a bureaucratic measure, and that wedding officiants are still needed (but no longer required). That means that if you want a wedding ceremony, you still need an officiant. But if you want to just file the paperwork and become a married couple, then you don’t need one.

So, if you are planning a wedding ceremony, either as a couple, or you are a wedding officiant in Alabama getting ready to perform the ceremony, then keep reading!

In the interest of getting it right, let’s start by looking at how the Probate Court of Mobile County instructs couples:

 

Effective August 29, 2019, the process for entering into a legal marriage in Alabama changes, pursuant to Ala. Act 2019-340.  Under the new law, persons wishing to become married are no longer required to file an application for a marriage license with the county probate court, and the courts will no longer issue marriage licenses. Furthermore, all Alabama probate courts will now be required to record marriage certificates. The Alabama Marriage Certificate form represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage, completed by both parties and delivered to the probate court for recording. Once properly completed and recorded, the marriage is valid. A wedding ceremony may be performed for the parties, but solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama.

 

Here’s how AMM interprets the new rules. “Under the new law, persons wishing to become married are no longer required to file an application for a marriage license with the county probate court, and the courts will no longer issue marriage licenses.

Furthermore, all Alabama probate courts will now be required to record marriage certificates. The Alabama Marriage Certificate form represents a contractual agreement between the parties to the marriage, completed by both parties and delivered to the probate court for recording. Once properly completed and recorded, the marriage is valid. A wedding ceremony may be performed for the parties, but solemnization is no longer required for a recognized marriage in Alabama.

Therefore, while the officiant is still necessary in order to celebrate a ceremonial wedding ceremony, the legal marriage process is handled by the couple, who apply for fill out, and process the information.

Since Alabama’s marriage process is different than in most states, make sure that couples are aware of the process, and that they understand that there are legal steps that they must take in addition to the ceremonial ceremony officiated by the officiant.”


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