Marriage in NC

Getting married in North Carolina is relatively simple. All you have to do is agree to marry each other in front of an ordained minister and two witnesses, and have that minister pronounce you married. GS 51.1

The beautiful thing about that simplicity is it opens up a lot of room for creativity in your ceremony! But first things first, you do have to get a marriage license from the state. GS 51.8

You can obtain a marriage license from the register of deeds office in your county. This license is good immediately upon issuance and can be used to get married in ANY county in North Carolina within 60 days. To obtain the license you must:

  • Complete the application
  • Appear in person
  • Provide proof of Social Security number and identity
  • Pay the $60 fee (Cash only)
  • Meet the age requirements
  • Note: A medical examination is not required in the state of NC to obtain a marriage license

Another important note is that in North Carolina your minister must have been ordained in person for your marriage to be considered valid. (The exception to this is marriages performed prior to July 3, 1981. GS 51-1.1)

Unfortunately, there are a number of practicing ministers in NC with online or “mail order” ordinations. While the legal status of those marriages may never be questioned, there is the chance that they could be considered invalid in a court of law. This article explains a bit about the 1980 court case and addresses what may happen if your invalid marriage is challenged.

People who aren’t technically married could face all sorts of other problems. They might not be able to share in a deceased spouse’s pension or 401(k). They might not have the right to own real estate as “tenants by the entireties” and thus protect themselves from creditors. They might not be able to sue and recover damages if their spouse is injured or killed. And they could face dire problems with income, gift and estate taxes.

marriage-825171_960_720As of October 10th, 2014, same-sex marriages are recognized in NC!


Some helpful links:

Wake County Register of Deeds

Johnston County Register of Deeds

Durham County Register of Deeds

Franklin County Register of Deeds

Chatham County Register of Deeds

Orange County Register of Deeds

IMG_0924 Katherine Edwards is an ordained minister available for spiritual, Christian, non-denominational, interfaith, and civil or non-religious wedding ceremonies. Katherine is based in Garner, North Carolina and serves the surrounding area, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Lillington, Angier, Morrisville, Wendell, and Knightdale.


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