Can We Have A Marriage Ceremony in Pennsylvania and Not be Legally Married?
A marriage license is required to be legally married in Pennsylvania. It is possible to have a commitment cermenoy without being legally married if the formalities, such as a marriage license and marriage certificate are not obtained. Neither PA or NJ would recognize such a marriage as a common law marriage.
Please see the following PA statutes:
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 1301. Marriage license required
(a) General rule. — No person shall be joined in marriage in this
Commonwealth until a marriage license has been obtained.
(b) Place of marriage ceremony. — A license issued under this
part shall authorize a marriage ceremony to be performed in any county of this
(c) Identity of applicants. — Prior to issuance of the license, the
person issuing the license must be satisfied as to the identity of both of
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 1501. Form of marriage certificates
The marriage license shall have appended to it two certificates,
numbered to correspond with the license (one marked original and one
marked duplicate), which shall be in substantially the following form:
I hereby certify that on (date), at (city, borough or town),
Pennsylvania, (name) and (name) were by me united in marriage, in
accordance with license issued by the Court of Common Pleas of (name)
(Title of person solemnizing marriage)
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 1502. Forms where parties perform ceremony
(a) Declaration of authorization. — In all cases in which the parties
intend to solemnize their marriage by religious ceremony without
officiating clergy, the marriage shall not take place until their right
so to do is certified in a declaration in substantially the following
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
ss: No. _____
County of (name)
To (name) and (name)
Legal evidence having been furnished to me, in accordance with law,
this certifies that I am satisfied that there is no legal impediment to
you joining yourselves together in marriage.
(b) Marriage certificates. — In lieu of the certificate set forth in
section 1501 (relating to form of marriage certificates), there shall be
appended to the declaration two certificates, numbered to correspond to
the declaration, in the following form:
We hereby certify that on (date), we united
ourselves in marriage, at (city, borough or town),
County of (name), Pennsylvania, having first obtained
from the Court of Common Pleas of (name) a declaration
numbered _________ that the court was satisfied that
there was no existing legal impediment to our so
We, the undersigned, were present at the
solemnization of the marriage of (name) and (name), as
set forth in the foregoing certificate.
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages
(a) General rule. — The following are authorized to solemnize marriages
between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:
(1) A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this
(2) A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of
this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial
district judge as provided or prescribed by law.
(3) An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District
Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District
(3.1) An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United
States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of
Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(4) An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(5) A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.
(6) A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or
(b) Religious organizations. — Every religious society, religious
institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join
persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member
of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and
customs of the society, institution or organization.
(c) Marriage license needed to officiate. — No person or religious
organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage
ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued
under this part.