Who Can Legally Perform Marriages in Illinois?

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Couples can get married by having either a religious or civil ceremony in Illinois. The marriage license needs to be signed by the person conducting the ceremony, otherwise known as the officiant. Your marriage license is valid for 60 days and must be returned to the county clerk’s office after your ceremony.

Religious Leaders

A church official or religious leader who is in good standing with his denomination can preside over your wedding. This type of officiant is commonly used for religious ceremonies. Depending upon the religious beliefs of the bride and groom, two different religious leaders can officiate the wedding.

Indian Nation Leaders

Couples who are part of the Indian Nation can have their religious leader perform the ceremony in Illinois. Religious leaders of other Native American tribes or native group may also act as an officiant at a wedding. The tribal chief may be the religious leader of the tribe, however, if he is not, he is also able to conduct marriage ceremony.

County Clerk

Couples can get married in a private ceremony at an Illinois county clerk’s office. However, only those county clerks in a county with more than two million or more residents, such as Cook County, can perform marriages. Some offices offer a separate room with limited seating for your witnesses and guests.


An Illinois judge of a court of record or one that has retired from a court of record can perform a marriage. A judge from the court of claims may also legally marry a couple. Weddings with judges as officiants can occur just about anywhere in Illinois, such as in a garden, at a park or at someone’s home.