Can a Notary Marry Someone in NC? Understanding if a Notary Public can Legally Perform Your Wedding Ceremony in North Carolina
Getting married marks one of life's most meaningful milestones and the start of an incredible new chapter. As you plan your dream North Carolina wedding, you'll need to follow the state’s marriage laws and requirements to ensure your nuptials are legal and valid. One common question couples have is "Can a Notary Marry Someone in NC (North Carolina)?".
The answer is yes – North Carolina does authorize notaries public to perform marriages, provided they meet certain prerequisites and follow the proper steps to obtain celebrant status.
This comprehensive guide provides couples, notaries, and officiants an in-depth look at North Carolina’s marriage officiant laws pertaining to notaries. It covers the state’s baseline wedding requirements, how to apply for a marriage license, who can conduct ceremonies, the specific process for notaries to obtain officiant authority, how notary-led wedding ceremonies unfold, and the top benefits of choosing a notary to marry you in North Carolina.
Overview of North Carolina’s Marriage Laws and License Requirements
In line with North Carolina law, the state has established several baseline marriage requirements that all couples looking to wed must fulfill, regardless of who officiates the ceremony. These laws ensure that your marriage is not only a momentous personal event but also legally valid and recognized under the state's legal framework. Here’s what you need to know:
Minimum Age Requirements
- The minimum age to marry without parental consent is 18 years of age.
- 16- and 17-year-olds may marry with certified written consent from a parent or legal guardian, along with providing a certified copy of their birth certificate proving their age.
- Anyone under the age of 16 must obtain a court order from a North Carolina district court judge allowing them to marry. This requires clear and convincing evidence the underage party is capable of assuming the responsibilities of marriage and that the marriage will serve their best interest.
Prior Marriage Requirements
- If either the bride or groom has been previously married, they must provide certified copies of all divorce decrees and judgments directly from the clerk of the superior court's office in the county where the divorce was granted.
- They must also provide the year of their last divorce if within the last year.
- It's essential to ensure all documents, like the certified copy of the divorce decree, are in order to avoid any legal complications in the new marriage.
- Both partners must provide their Social Security Administration-issued social security number on the marriage license application.
- Applicants must also present current, valid government-issued photo identification such as a United States driver’s license, U.S. passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, military ID, or other valid picture ID.
- These documents are crucial in establishing identity and eligibility for marriage under state law.
Health Screening Requirements
- Males aged 18-26 and females aged 16-26 must take a premarital physical examination by a licensed physician. They must submit a certificate signed by the physician stating they are free from venereal disease as defined by North Carolina’s health laws.
Waiting Period Requirement
- There is a mandatory 72-hour waiting period from the time you apply for the marriage license until the time you can pick up the issued license. Use this time to finalize any last-minute details with your intended officiant.
Marriage License Filing Requirement
- You must properly complete the issued marriage license and certificate forms and file them after the ceremony per state law. The officiant usually files these on the couple’s behalf.
- Ensure to request copies of the marriage license post-ceremony for personal records and future administrative needs.
Meeting these requirements ensures your marriage will be legally valid and recognized in North Carolina. The Register of Deeds office in the county where you or your partner reside can provide all the specifics on properly applying for a license.
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a North Carolina Marriage License
Here are the steps couples need to follow to obtain a legally valid marriage license in North Carolina:
1. Complete the Marriage License Application
- You can fill out a paper application in person at the Register of Deeds office or complete the application online.
- The application will request personal information like your full legal name, residential address, date of birth, social security number, details about your parents, and information on any previous marriages or divorces.
2. Present Acceptable Identification
- When applying in person, bring a current, valid government-issued photo ID such as a United States driver’s license, U.S. passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, military ID, or other valid picture ID.
- This step is crucial to confirm your identity and eligibility for the marriage license.
3. Meet Any Additional Requirements
- If you are under 18, the consenting parent or legal guardian must be present or provide a certified consent form along with copies of valid ID.
- If previously married, supply certified copies of all divorce decrees, judgments, or other paperwork proving all previous marriages have legally ended.
4. Pay the Marriage License Fee
- The marriage license fee in North Carolina typically ranges between $60-75, varying slightly by county. It's advisable to call the specific Register of Deeds office ahead of time to confirm the exact fee amount.
- Most Register of Deeds offices offer a variety of payment options for your convenience. Alongside cash, personal checks, and money orders, they widely accept major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. This flexibility, including the option to pay with a credit card, makes the application process more accessible and streamlined for couples.
5. Wait the Mandatory 72 Hours
- There is a 3-day waiting period from the date you apply until the date you can pick up the issued marriage license. Use this time to confirm details with your chosen officiant.
6. Obtain Certified Copies of the License
- Request at least 2-3 certified copies of the license when you pick it up.
- These copies are essential for various post-marriage procedures such as name changes, tax filings, insurance updates, and more
- You'll need these to easily complete post-marriage name changes, tax filings, insurance updates, and other paperwork.
7. Officially Solemnize Within 60 Days
- The marriage license is legally valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. You must have a duly authorized officiant perform the marriage ceremony within this time frame or else reapply for a new license.
Once issued, your authorized North Carolina marriage license enables you to legally marry within 60 days provided you have an authorized officiant conduct the ceremony.
Types of Officiants That Can Perform Weddings in North Carolina
North Carolina statutes authorize specific individuals to legally solemnize marriages within the state. Authorized officiants include:
- An ordained or licensed minister, rabbi, pastor, priest, or other authorized religious official associated with a recognized religious body, organization, or denomination.
Religious Quaker Ceremonies
- Traditional Quaker wedding ceremonies need no officiant and can be legally self-solemnized, provided they are carried out according to the procedures, customs, and regulations of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers.
- Any federal, state, county, or municipal judge, magistrate, or justice of the peace, provided they are currently serving in or retired from office in good standing.
- Legislated officers authorized by law to perform legally recognized American Indian Nation, Alaska Native, or other Indigenous tribal wedding ceremonies.
- If they meet the specific requirements and obtain celebrant authorization outlined below.
While most states do not grant notaries the authority to perform weddings, North Carolina uniquely empowers state-commissioned notaries public to officiate marriage ceremonies under certain prerequisites.
Requirements for North Carolina Notaries Public to Officiate Weddings
For a notary public to legally conduct weddings in North Carolina, they must fulfill the following requirements:
Hold an Active North Carolina Notary Commission
- You must be an actively commissioned notary public currently registered and in good standing with North Carolina’s Secretary of State.
Submit Notary Marriage Celebrant Application
- File an application for Registration of Notary Public to Solemnize Marriage Ceremony with the Secretary of State’s office.
- Include the non-refundable $50 fee along with the celebrant application form.
Obtain One-Time Legal Authority
- Upon approval, the Secretary of State will issue the notary applicant a one-time legal authority to solemnize the specific marriage ceremony of the couple named on the application.
- This temporary "Marriage Celebrant" authorization is valid for 45 days from issuance. The approved ceremony must take place within this 45-day timeframe.
Recite Required Legal Wording
- When officiating the authorized wedding ceremony, the notary must pronounce the couple legally married using the special phrase, "By virtue of the authority vested in me as a Notary Public by the State of North Carolina, I now pronounce you married.”
Maintain Records of Marriage Ceremonies
- It’s essential for notaries to maintain a certified copy of the marriage certificate for each wedding they officiate. This serves as a record of their role in the marriage and may be required for legal verification in the future.
Obtain Unlimited Authority Through Ordination
- In lieu of applying for individual one-time celebrant status for each wedding, notaries can pursue unlimited authority to perform weddings by becoming ordained ministers online through the Universal Life Church or other organizations.
- They must register their ordination and good standing paperwork with the Register of Deeds in each NC county where they'll officiate ceremonies.
Meeting these requirements allows NC notaries to legally officiate weddings in the state. It’s a unique opportunity not extended to notaries in most other states nationwide.
How Notary Public-Officiated Wedding Ceremonies Work in North Carolina
If you decide to have a notary public perform your North Carolina wedding ceremony, here is an overview of how the special day would unfold:
Pre-Ceremony Consultation and Planning
- Set up an initial consultation with the notary to share your love story and learn more about their ceremony offerings.
- Work together to craft a meaningful, personalized ceremony suited to your relationship and style as a couple. Notaries can create customized non-religious or semi-religious ceremonies.
- Confirm the notary has valid celebrant status with the NC Secretary of State and county Register of Deeds.
Obtain the Marriage License
- Apply for and receive your authorized North Carolina marriage license from the Register of Deeds in your county of residence prior to the ceremony.
- Ensure you and your partner bring necessary documents like a certified birth certificate or valid picture ID to the ceremony.
Prepare for Your Ceremony
- Select your ideal North Carolina ceremony location and wedding date. Notary weddings can take place anywhere statewide - indoors or outdoors.
- Finalize other ceremony details like music, readings, vows, symbolic rituals, attire, and more with your notary officiant.
Exchange Vows and Rings
- On your wedding day, stand before your officiant and exchange vows, rings, or other symbolic rituals as discussed and outlined during your consultation.
- Allow creativity and personalization in your ritual exchange. The notary will guide you through properly expressing your promises and commitment.
Pronouncement and Signatures
- At the close of the ceremony, the notary will officially pronounce you married using their authorized legal phrase.
- You, your new spouse, the notary officiant, and two adult witnesses must sign the marriage license documents.
- The notary then completes their sections and handles filing the finished license to make the marriage official and legal.
Receive Certified Copies
- You'll receive two certified copies of your recorded license from the Register of Deeds for your permanent records.
- Use them to easily change your name, access benefits, update accounts and IDs, travel, and handle other post-marriage paperwork.
That's it – you are now officially married in the state of North Carolina with a customized notary public wedding ceremony!
5 Major Perks of Choosing a Notary Wedding Officiant in North Carolina
There are many excellent reasons couples may want to consider having a North Carolina notary public officiate their ceremony:
Convenience and Availability
- Notaries are often readily available to perform wedding ceremonies even on short notice or on weekends.
- They are typically willing and authorized to travel to your preferred ceremony location anywhere in the state.
Ceremony Flexibility and Customization
- Notary-officiated ceremonies allow couples to create unique, customized vows and rituals reflecting their spiritual beliefs and relationship style.
- Secular or semi-religious options make notaries a good fit for interfaith and non-religious couples.
- Notaries in North Carolina are authorized to perform ceremonies that are legally recognized to the same extent as those conducted by clergy or judges. This inclusivity extends to all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Specifically, this means that same-sex marriage, fully legal and recognized in North Carolina, can be joyfully and respectfully officiated by notaries. Notaries public in North Carolina embrace the opportunity to officiate same-sex weddings, celebrating the love and legal union of all couples with the same reverence and legality.
- Additionally, notaries are well-versed in the legalities surrounding certified copies of divorce decrees and marriage certificates, ensuring all legal aspects, including those unique to same-sex marriages, are correctly handled.
- No need to go through lengthy premarital classes, counseling, or religious red tape. Notaries focus on what matters most – your relationship.
- Their expertise extends to guiding couples through the necessary documentation, such as understanding the importance of a certified copy of the marriage certificate for post-ceremony procedures.
- Professional notaries tend to charge $75-$125 to officiate a wedding, making their services very affordable compared to clergy or municipal judges.
- Their ability to manage legal documentation can also save couples time and potential additional expenses.
In summary, engaged couples can confidently choose an authorized North Carolina notary public to perform a customized, convenient, meaningful, and 100% legal wedding ceremony. Just double-check their active celebrant credentials before booking.
Ready to learn more? Reach out to Go-To Mobile Notary now to discuss having a professional notary public make your dream North Carolina wedding legal and unforgettable!