Officiate Weddings in Chicago, Illinois
What is there to read about Chicago that hasn’t already been written? We know! How about learning what you need to do to become a legal wedding officiant to perform marriage in the Windy City? Illinois is a state that does not require officiants to register with any government office. This means that all you need to do to acquire the the legal right to officiate weddings is to get ordained online.
The marriage law in Illinois that covers solemnization of marriage states that church officials and religious leaders who are in good standing with their denominations can preside over weddings in the state. That means that ministers ordained by American Marriage Ministries have the legal ability to officiate wedding ceremonies in Chicago.
This page covers the steps required to officiate weddings in Chicago. We also answer questions about how to prepare for the wedding as the officiant and what your responsibilities are regarding the marriage license. The first thing you need to do is get ordained. This is the fastest and easiest way to perform marriage in Chicago. As an “AMM Minister” you are not required to register with any government office. So once ordained, you do not need to take any further steps with the city or state government.
Illinois marriage law does not require minister registration. There are no offices dedicated to filing ministry credentials or handling officiant registration. They simply do not exist. Continue reading to learn more about getting ordained to officiate weddings in Chicago.
STEP 1: Get Ordained with American Marriage Ministries
The Illinois Compiled Statutes §750 5.209 allows for the following officials to officiate weddings:
(a) A marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court of record, by a retired judge of a court of record, unless the retired judge was removed from office by the Judicial Inquiry Board, except that a retired judge shall not receive any compensation from the State, a county or any unit of local government in return for the solemnization of a marriage and there shall be no effect upon any pension benefits conferred by the Judges Retirement System of Illinois, by a judge of the Court of Claims, by a county clerk in counties having 2,000,000 or more inhabitants, by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages, by a mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town who is in office on the date of the solemnization, or in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, provided that when such prescriptions require an officiant, the officiant be in good standing with his or her religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group. Either the person solemnizing the marriage, or, if no individual acting alone solemnized the marriage, both parties to the marriage, shall complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the county clerk within 10 days after such marriage is solemnized. A mayor or president of a city, village, or incorporated town shall not receive any compensation in return for the solemnization of a marriage.
(a-5) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, to solemnize any marriage. Instead, any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose which marriages it will solemnize. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a refusal by a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group to solemnize any marriage under this Act shall not create or be the basis for any civil, administrative, or criminal penalty, claim, or cause of action.
(a-10) No church, mosque, synagogue, temple, nondenominational ministry, interdenominational or ecumenical organization, mission organization, or other organization whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion is required to provide religious facilities for the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony of a marriage if the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony is in violation of its religious beliefs. An entity identified in this subsection (a-10) shall be immune from any civil, administrative, criminal penalty, claim, or cause of action based on its refusal to provide religious facilities for the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony of a marriage if the solemnization ceremony or celebration associated with the solemnization ceremony is in violation of its religious beliefs. As used in this subsection (a-10), “religious facilities” means sanctuaries, parish halls, fellowship halls, and similar facilities. “Religious facilities” does not include facilities such as businesses, health care facilities, educational facilities, or social service agencies. (b) The solemnization of the marriage is not invalidated:
(1) by the fact that the person solemnizing the marriage was not legally qualified to solemnize it, if a reasonable person would believe the person solemnizing the marriage to be so qualified; or
(2) by the fact that the marriage was inadvertently solemnized in a county in Illinois other than the county where the license was issued and filed.
(c) Any marriage that meets the requirements of this Section shall be presumed valid.
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.
Officiant Registration in Chicago
In order to officiate the wedding as a non-government employee (like a judge or member of the legislature) you must get ordained. You can get ordained right here on this website in less than a minute. It’s free, and empowers you to officiate weddings anywhere in the US.
If this is your first time officiating weddings we also have easy-to-use training guides, and a bookstore that has in-depth guidance. Our goal here is to give you the tools and training that you need to create a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony for the couple.
STEP 2: Prepare For Officiating the Wedding
Getting AMM ordained is the easy part. Your next step as the wedding officiant is to prepare for officiating the wedding ceremony. As the wedding officiant, there are two main things you need to prepare for:
- Non-Legal Duty – Officiating the Wedding Ceremony
- Legal Duty – Signing the Marriage License
Non-Legal Duties – You non-legal duties encompass all of the performative aspects of the wedding ceremony. How do I write a wedding ceremony? How do I get ready to perform marriage? What do I say at a wedding?
To learn the answers to all these questions and more, we recommend that you read through the officiant training pages on the American Marriage Ministries website. These resources cover all important aspects of performing marriage and is geared towards first-time officiants. You can also check out these pages for more ceremony prep info:
- Officiant Preparation for a Wedding Ceremony
- Writing a Wedding Ceremony
- How To Perform a Wedding Ceremony
Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. The sooner you get started and the more time you allocate to practice, the better prepared you will be when it comes time to officiate the wedding.
Legal Duties – Your legal duties have everything to do with the marriage license. Your one legal job as the wedding officiant is to sign the marriage license for the couple. This is as simple as it sounds, kust complete and sign a piece of paper. That’s it!
We understand how important it is to make sure the marriage license is properly completed. If you do find yourself confused by some of the fields on the marriage license, check out our page on How to Fill Out a Marriage License.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding
Regarding your performative duties, this is where you shine. If you have done your due diligence in preparing for the wedding ceremony, you will do an amazing job. In fact, you may have a lot more fun officiating a wedding than you might think. Many officiants that are AMM ordained to officiate one wedding eventually go on to officiating several. It’s really a lot of fun!
Regarding the marriage license – The couple is responsible for applying for the marriage license. Make sure to double check with the couple before performing the ceremony. At some point on the wedding day, the couple must present to you their marriage license. Your job is to complete and sign it in their presence and any required witnesses. The marriage license can be completed before or after the ceremony, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that all the fields are completed properly and that it bears your signature.
Once the marriage license is properly signed, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. Afterwards we recommend that you follow-up with the couple to make sure the marriage license has been returned to its issuance office.
Chicago Wedding Planning Logistics
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.
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.
Chicago Officiant FAQ
Who can perform a wedding in Chicago Illinois?
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 Illinois, 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.
How soon can the marriage be performed after the license is issued?
The marriage license issued by the Cook County Clerk’s office is effective the following calendar day after it is issued.
How long is the license valid for after it is issued by the Cook County Clerk?
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.
What are the minister’s duties after the ceremony is over?
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.
Can the couple apply for their marriage license online?
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.
Where can the couple get an official copy of their marriage certificate?
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.
Chicago Marriage License Info
It is the couple’s responsibility to file for the Illinois Marriage License. That being said, below is important information regarding applying for a marriage license in Cook County. If you need more clarification on what is meant by “Waiting Period”, “Expiration”, and “Return”, check out the Marriage License Definitions page on the American Marriage Ministries website.
Where do I file for the marriage license?
Couples can file for a marriage license in Chicago at any of the following locations. Please be aware that due to possible COVID restrictions, in-person applications may not be available. Please contact the Clerk’s office prior to applying for your marriage license to find out exactly what you need to do to file for the marriage license.
Northwest Suburbs – Rolling Meadows
2121 Euclid Avenue, Room 238
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
North Suburbs – Skokie
5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Room 149
Skokie, IL 60077
West Suburbs – Maywood
1311 Maybrook Square, Room 104
Maywood, IL 60153
Southwest Suburbs – Bridgeview
10220 S. 76th Ave., Room 238
Bridgeview, IL 60455
South Suburbs – Markham
16501 S. Kedzie, Room 238
Markham, IL 60426
Downtown Chicago – Vital Records
118 N. Clark St., Room 120
Chicago, IL 60602
How much does the marriage license cost?
How long must I wait before completing my marriage license?
24 Hours before completing.
When does the marriage license expire?
Who returns the marriage license?
When must the marriage license be returned after the wedding?
Within 10 Days