Not goin' to the chapel, but we're gonna get married
September 5, 2006 10:44 AM   Subscribe

How do we get married in Multnomah County, OR?

The Future Mrs. pdb and I are planning to be married in May of next year. Being not-at-all religious, we want a friend of ours to do the ceremony after being ordained by the Universal Life Church.

Once said friend becomes ordained, though, what has to happen to make a ceremony performed by a ULC-ordained person a "legal" marriage in Portland, OR? I understand about the marriage license process, that's the easy part - I'm concerned with making sure our officiant is recognized by the county/state/whatever.

The Multnomah County website is almost spectacularly unhelpful in this regard, and the Multnomah County Clerk either doesn't exist or has an unlisted phone number, as the number I was given for the clerk's office has been disconnected.

Any MultCo Mefites out there have any ideas how we go about legitimizing our wedding in the eyes of the county?
posted by pdb to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
According to this:
Ministers of any church organized, carrying on its work, and having congregations in this state may perform marriages in this state if authorized by their church to do so. --- Ministers must give the bride and groom a marriage certificate upon request. Also, the minister must send a marriage certificate to the county clerk who issued the marriage license within one month after the marriage. --- For questions see the county clerk.

Now there's the rub - "having a congregation in this state". I would be curious if that means the ULC has a congregation (which Im sure there are enough ULC minister's in the state to make a case) or if you as an individual needs to have a congregation.

Of course, I was married by a friend with ULC credentials (NY) and have married friends of mine using my ULC credentials (PA). In PA there is a nifty loophole that states as long as one county recognises you, then you can marry in any county. When the couty clerk gave me a hard time in Pittsburgh about my credentials, I went to Bucks County and they had no problem whatsoever with letting me go marrying people (Bucks County is just a tad more liberal).

You might be able to do the same thing. But in the end, they probably only care that you sign the certificate and get it to the county clerk's office.
posted by niteHawk at 10:55 AM on September 5, 2006

It appears that the Marriage License Division is housed in the Mulnomah county Department of Assessment and Taxation. Here is the number I have for the Marriage License Division (503) 988-3027 and if that does not work, try (503)988-3326 which is the number for the Dept. of Assessment and Taxation.
posted by miss meg at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2006

As a ULC Reverend in Clackamas County, I've found it is much too difficult to marry people (in Oregon) unless you're a conventional minister.

I would suggest doing the paperwork at the courthouse, then having your friend perform the formal ceremony as a more convenient method.

The religious ceremony really has very little to do with the recognition of the marriage by the state, which is a small part of why I believe gay marriage absolutely should be legalized.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2006


I am a ULC minister, and I have married something on the order of 35 couples in Multnomah County.

In Oregon, a clergyperson of "any religious congregation or organization" (ORS 106.120) can perform marriages.

(Multnomah County used to require you to file a letter of good standing, but this is no longer the case. Here's what the county says.)

All you have to do is to fill out the ULC address in the appropriate spot on the license.

Once when I mistakenly filled out just "Tucson AZ" instead of the whole ULC address, I had to go into the County Office to complete the form. The response from the folks behind the desk made it clear that they see lots of marriages performed by ULC ministers.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:42 PM on September 5, 2006

As a ULC Reverend in Clackamas County, I've found it is much too difficult to marry people (in Oregon) unless you're a conventional minister.

I'm curious, Matt: what kind of difficulty have you encountered?
posted by ottereroticist at 1:46 PM on September 5, 2006

We did exactly this ~5 years ago. A friend got his ULC minister stuff sorted out (I think he went to their website and hit 'Print'), we paid the fee and picked up the license from the Multnomah County courthouse, he said some nice things a day or two later, everyone signed the license where it said to, we mailed it off, and we've lived happily ever after.
posted by togdon at 3:26 PM on September 5, 2006

unless the state has a specific law against this you shouldnt have any problem at all. we did exactly this when we were married this last summer and our best friend did the marrying. all he had to do was do the online stuff on their website to become ordained, then he signed our marriage certificate and it was sent in. and presto! legal marriage! much easier than people make it out to be, in alot of ways it was simpler than having a stranger do it.
posted by trishthedish at 3:59 PM on September 5, 2006

FWIW, the situation is essentially the same in Washington.
posted by mwhybark at 6:04 PM on September 5, 2006

I heard from Matt Oneiros via e-mail, and he said:

As I recall when I last investigated the matter Clackamas does require a "letter of good standing" or the like. I got the ULC paper, looked into it, and the parties involved decided that a justice of the peace would be much simpler and require much less effort.

So the difficulty he encountered was with that county, rather than the whole state. FYI, the ULC does provide letters in good standing; it costs $10 and probably takes a couple of weeks.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:27 PM on September 6, 2006

First, congratulations. Second, I saw a great wedding performed by one of the ordained bakers at Voodoo Doughnut on SW 3rd in downtown Portland. The ceremony was short and sweet, if you'll pardon the pun. Nothing says love like stepping over the holy doughnut together...or maybe nothing says "different" like getting married in a doughnut shop in front of applauding strangers. Hope you find a place that makes great memories for the two of you!
posted by bloggerwench at 2:42 PM on September 11, 2006

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