Information relating to Marriage and Civil Union Officiants

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/Pt.II (Marriage), requires that, for a marriage to be legal, it must be 1) licensed, 2) solemnized, and 3) registered. That means the couple must obtain a marriage license from the Clerk of the County where the marriage ceremony will take place. The marriage must then be solemnized by a judge, a retired judge or by an ordained person “in good standing with his or her religious denomination….” There are no requirements for an ordained person to register in the County or the State of Illinois in order to marry people, nor does the County or State keep track of officiants’ credentials. However, the couple getting married needs to have confidence in the qualifications of their officiant. (See Section 209 of the Marriage statute for specifics.) After the ceremony, return the marriage license to the County Clerk for registration. The County Clerk keeps the original marriage license on file permanently.

The same is true for a Civil Union (see the 750 ILCS 75/ Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act). Section 40 “Certification” reads much the same as Section 209 of the Marriage statute, and relates to officiants of civil union ceremonies.  

Please note that notaries public are not authorized to officiate at marriages and civil unions in Illinois.  Therefore, do not indicate a title of "Notary Public" on the marriage/civil union certificate portion of the license.

Important Instructions for the Officiant

You must fill out the bottom front of the license (the certificate portion).

Write legibly. We must transcribe what you put down.

Take care to spell the couple’s names as they appear printed at the top of the license.

Use at least first and last names of the couple; do not use nicknames (i.e. “Joseph Jones” and “Susan Smith,” not “Joe” and “Susie”).

Do not abbreviate (i.e. “Wesley Chapel,” not “WC”).

On the certificate, after the phrase “…were united in Marriage (or “Civil Union”) by me at” enter a LOCATION (i.e. “Castle Theater,” address of private residence, etc.).

On the back, we encourage the couple to enter their own genealogical information. If you are filling it out with the permission of the couple, make sure this is the couple’s information, not your own. The couple may sign on the back of the license. They do not sign in the blanks for their names on the certificate portion of the front.

You, the couple or another responsible person must return the original marriage/civil union license to the McLean County Clerk’s office at the Government Center, 115 E Washington St, Room 102, Bloomington, IL 61701. When the license is filed with the County Clerk, the couple can purchase certified copies they need for official purposes. Return the original license to our office within 10 days of the ceremony. Call us at (309) 888-5190, if you have any questions.