A Quaker wedding usually occurs during a regular meeting for worship. Those that are attending the meeting, including children, serve as witnesses and sign the wedding certificate. This process is called a self-uniting marriage where an officiant is not present to marry the bride and groom. The bride and groom actually marry themselves.
Self-uniting marriages require a self-uniting marriage license. This license is considered a special license. Self-uniting marriage licenses are required for the marriage to be considered legally binding for those ceremonies without an official performing the ceremony. The below steps will help you obtain a Quaker marriage license.
Telephone the state or county office where marriage licenses in your area are issued. You will want to make sure a Quaker marriage license is authorized in that state and county, and how much it costs. Not all states and counties issue these special licenses.
Go to the office where marriage licenses are issued and complete an application, clearly letting the office personnel know the license application is for a self-uniting marriage. You will want to indicate this on the actual application as well. You will need to have a photo identification, Social Security card and cash for the license. The Social Security card may or may not be requested.
Obtain a self-uniting marriage license to be signed right after the marriage by the bride, groom and witnesses. Two witness are required, but in traditional Quaker weddings, all persons attending sign the wedding certificate.
Some locations do not allow checks to be used. Usually a credit card can be used, but frequently an additional charge is added for use of the credit card.
There is some controversy in Pennsylvania related to self-uniting marriage licenses. The controversy is that some counties in Pennsylvania require proof that the prospective bride and groom are Quakers. This is a misconception that has caused many problems and issues including court action. These issues are directly related to the lack of information and direction given to the clerks in the marriage license offices. In actuality, anyone in Pennsylvania can get a self-uniting marriage recognized legally as long as they obtain and qualify for a self-united marriage license. This process is not exclusive for Quakers. However, for those that are not verifiable Quakers, a quick call for clarification to the marriage license office will clear up any questions and avoid any potential unpleasantness.