Getting Married via Video Conferencing in Utah

The COVID-19 pandemic has required governments to get creative when it comes to providing vital services in this new era of social distancing, shutdowns, and quarantines. This information page gives couples interested in getting married remotely in Utah some answers about how Utah County has implemented processes to make this possible.

General Information and FAQ's

The information contained on this page is specific to the laws of the State of Utah and the processes followed the by the Marriage License Office of Utah County.

Where Did This Come From? Click to Expand
As part of a campaign promise to “bring the Clerk/Auditor’s office into the 21st century,” in 2019 the Utah County marriage license office and Utah County information technology departments began a year-long effort to create a completely digital end-to-end marriage license issuance and recording process. Beginning in January 2020 couples were given the ability to receive a marriage license, have the wedding ceremony, and have the officiant submit information for the marriage certificate completely over the web. This process removed the need for a couple to visit the office in-person to be issued and return their marriage license.

What began with a simple goal to streamline processes and create convenience for residents of Utah County became invaluable as government offices throughout the state and nation were forced to close in response to COVID-19. Since that time the Utah County marriage license office has been able to help thousands of couples obtain marriage licenses and be legally married despite challenges posed by distance, office closures, and travel restrictions.

In order to be legally married a couple goes through three distinct steps: obtaining a marriage license, participating in a wedding ceremony, and having the marriage recorded with the county.

About Marriage Licenses Click to Expand
All couples desiring to marry in the state of Utah must first procure a marriage license. There is no residency or citizenship requirement. Applicants for a marriage license provide the information required by Utah Code 30-1-8 (name, address, social security number, date and place of birth, names of parents and their places of birth) and identities are verified through presentation of a government issued ID document with name, picture, and date of birth (e.g. drivers license or passport). The applicants also make an affidavit as required in Utah Code 30-1-10 showing that there is no lawful reason in the way of the marriage. The couple also pays the appropriate license fees.

In Utah county, the license is issued through one of three processes. Couples may continue to apply for licenses in the office where their identification is established as they present ID documents to the office staff in person and they sign the affidavit with ink. Couples may also apply for the license completely online where their identification is verified through scanning ID documents and pictures by Acuant (third-party identification software), then they digitally sign the affidavit. If the online application doesn’t work, and the couple can’t reasonably come to the office, the license may be issued through a video-conference office visit. In this situation their identity is verified by the person hosting the conference comparing images of their ID documents and the people in the conference. Verbal agreement is given to the details of the affidavit as the deputy clerk digitally signs on their behalf. According to Utah Code 46-4-201 digital records and digital signatures are as legally binding as paper records and paper signatures.

No matter the application process, following submission of the application which includes the collection of required information, verification of identity, affirming the affidavit, and payment of fees the couple is issued a marriage license. Rather than printing a physical license, the license takes the form of a unique URL for that couple. The couple will provide that URL to their officiant who will use it to submit the information necessary to finalize the marriage certificate.

About Marriage Ceremonies Click to Expand
The marriage license allows a couple to legally participate in a wedding ceremony to solemnize the marriage. Utah law is noticeably silent on the details concerning marriage ceremonies, and the ceremonies themselves are as unique as the couples being married. At minimum, a marriage ceremony requires an authorized officiant (as listed in Utah Code 30-1-6), the presence of two witness over the age of 18 (according to Utah Code 30-1-11), and an opportunity for the participants to affirm their willingness to enter into a marriage commitment.

Other than providing simple wedding ceremonies for a nominal fee, the marriage license office stays out of the wedding ceremony business. The place, nature, wording, and other aspects of the ceremony is governed by the wishes of the participants, traditions of their culture, and/or tenets of their religion.

Among the formats of wedding ceremonies provided by the Utah County marriage license office and by at least one business with a physical presence in Utah county is a web-conference wedding. During such weddings the participants are connected through video-conferencing software allowing each participant to see and hear all other participants in real time. In this fashion the officiant and witnesses can clearly see and hear each party willingly enter the marriage commitment. During the web-conference, one of the locations is designated as the host location. In order for the marriage to be valid, the host location must be located within the boundaries of the State of Utah. This is listed on the marriage certificate as the location of the wedding and establishes the jurisdiction for the marriage.

About Recording a Marriage with Utah County Click to Expand
Regardless of the type of ceremony, it is the duty of the officiant to make sure the marriage is recorded. Traditionally this occurred when a completed and signed marriage license was returned to the marriage license office. In Utah county, this occurs when the officiant visits the URL specifically assigned to the couple whose wedding they officiated. At that point they enter information about themselves including contact information and their officiant title (i.e. minister, judge), and the date and place of the ceremony. Additionally, they include the names of the witness (per Utah Code 30-1-11) and digitally sign the certificate of completed marriage. According to Utah Code 46-4-201 digital records and digital signatures are as legally binding as paper records and paper signatures.

Once this information has been submitted, the system auto-generates a digital, certified copy of the Marriage License and Certificate of Completed Marriage. This information is stored in the county data base as proof that the wedding has taken place and the marriage is official. The next business day the marriage license office prints a certified copy and mails it to the address requested by the couple.

About the Legality of Marriages Click to Expand
All certificates of completed marriages issued and certified by Utah county have gone through all three of these steps. The couple has legally applied for and been issued a marriage license, a valid wedding ceremony within the state has taken place, and the marriage has been registered with the county. Any couple with certified copy of their marriage certificate has been legally married according to Utah law and the laws of the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions Click to Expand
  • Who can use a marriage license issued by Utah County?
    The state of Utah has no citizenship or residency requirements to obtain a marriage license. Any couple whose marriage is not forbidden by Utah law may apply for and be issued a valid marriage license.

  • Does a couple have to appear in person to get their marriage license?
    No. Couples may apply for a marriage license completely online. As part of the process applicants are required to upload images of their government issued IDs and pictures of themselves. These are verified through identification software. They digitally sign the affidavit stating there is no lawful reason in the way of their marriage.

  • What are the limitations of a Utah marriage license?
    Utah marriage licenses have no waiting period, so they may be used immediately, but they expire after 30 days. Marriage licenses must be used in the state of Utah, which includes web-conference weddings that have a host location in the state of Utah.

  • Who can officiate at a marriage ceremony?
    Utah Code 30-1-6 names individuals who are authorized to solemnize marriages. They usually fall into one of three categories: individuals authorized by a religious denomination, individuals with certain political offices (e.g. mayors, judges, etc.), and individuals designated by a county clerk.

  • What is required for a legal marriage ceremony?
    Utah law only requires an authorized officiant and two witnesses.

  • Where does a web-conference wedding ceremony take place?
    Every web-conference wedding ceremony establishes a host location within the boundaries of the State of Utah. Whatever the geographic location of the various parties, they have all chosen to visit that location. The host location establishes jurisdiction for the marriage ceremony. This is either the location of the officiant or of one the parties being married. Though the witnesses are required for the marriage to be valid, their physical location cannot serve as the host location.

  • Can a couple be in separate physical locations still be married?
    Yes. A video-conference wedding ceremony must allow the officiant, participants, and witnesses to all see and hear each other in real time to be a valid ceremony. Regardless of their individual geographic location, if the host location is in the State of Utah, they can legally use a marriage license issued by Utah County.

  • How is the marriage certificate signed?
    All the signatures on marriage licenses and marriage certificates issued by Utah County are digital. The couple digitally signs their affidavit/application that there is no lawful reason why they cannot be married. The officiant digitally signs the marriage certificate that he/she is authorized to perform marriages, that there were two witnesses to the marriage who were at least 18 years of age, and that both parties (officiant and witnesses) can attest the the couple got married of their own free will and choice. This complies with Utah Code 46-4-201.

  • Do web-conference weddings say “online” on the marriage certificate?
    No. It is the exact same certificate for all couples who get their license through Utah county. Since January of 2020 all licenses issued by Utah County have been all digital. All licenses are issued digitally and signatures are captured digitally. Utah County no longer issues paper licenses to couples seeking to get married.

  • How is a web-conference wedding different from a proxy wedding?
    In a proxy marriage, another person represents an absent participant. In a web-conference wedding the participants represent themselves. They visually appear before an officiant and witnesses; their personal verbal agreement to enter the marriage is heard by the officiant and witnesses. The State of Utah does not recognize a proxy marriage. Each participant must appear before the officiant personally. They cannot be represented by a third party.

  • How is a web-conference wedding different from a virtual wedding?
    Web-conference wedding ceremonies do not take place with avatars in a virtual space. In a web-conference the participants present themselves. The marriage takes place in a physical location – the host location of the ceremony. This type of appearance is becoming common place in legal proceedings, even in the criminal justice system.

  • How is a web-conference wedding different from a destination wedding?
    It isn’t. Because of its scenic beauty, national parks, and historic Mormon Temples, Utah has long been a wedding destination for couples from across the United States and throughout the world. Utah marriage laws have always been accommodating of those traveling to the state to be married. As Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” continues to evolve as a technology innovation center, visiting Utah through web-conference software may become the next wedding destination.

  • Is a web-conference wedding recognized by other U.S. States?
    Regardless of their own marriage laws, a marriage legally solemnized in one state should be recognized in all other states.

  • Is a web-conference wedding recognized by other countries?
    Most countries recognize marriages solemnized in other countries, but that is a question for the individual country. However, when recognizing a certified legal document from another country additional authentication may be required. One form of additional certification is called an apostille. The government agency that provides apostilles for Utah marriage licenses is the Utah Lt. Governor’s office. Additional information at: Authentications.Utah.gov.

  • If a couple is married in a web-conference ceremony how does that affect immigration or travel, especially during COVID-19 restrictions?
    This is a question for the countries involved, but a certified and apostilled marriage certificate may facilitate travel in spite of general travel bans. However, in terms of immigration, additional proof of a marriage relationship may be required by the immigration officials of the country in which a visa is being applied for. A Certificate of Marriage may not always be enough documentation.