Is a marriage officiated by an ordained Universal Life Church minister (and performed in the country) legally recognised in Iceland?

The Wikipedia page on the ULC only lists US states and this site doesn't include Iceland.

I think I may have accidentally married some people at a festival.


One can find contradictory claims out there. Here is an English version of the marriage law. There is a surprising amount of legal rigamarole (in Norway, as well) pertaining to clearing "impediments". Assuming that the parties have done their part, then we move to Chapter 4. Article 16:

Marriage may take place before a minister of the church, a representative of a registered religious organization empowered to perform such ceremonies, cf. Article 17, or before a civil official so empowered

So turning to Article 17:

Religious solemnization of marriage shall be performed by the ministers of the National Church, and priests or other representatives of registered religious organizations in Iceland who have been empowered to perform such ceremonies by the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs

and that is now part of the Ministry of the Interior. I can't find any indication that ULC has been approved. There are 49 religions officially listed by Statistics Iceland, including Siðmennt, a secular humanist organization which gained official status on May 3rd, 2013 when

the organization was officially registered as a secular life stance organization under a law passed in the Icelandic Parliament on January 30th of that year. A formal ceremony was held by the Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson who had strongly supported our cause, to mark this historical event. As a result, Siðmennt gained the same legal and funding status as religious life stance organizations in Iceland. Weddings conducted by Siðmennt celebrants since then are legal and couples no longer have to go to government offices for that purpose.

In light of the fact that Siðmennt is officially listed and ULC is not listed, I would conclude that you did not accidentally marry anyone, even if they had dealt with the impediments.


According to the Iceland consulate in New York, getting married in Iceland requires a considerable amount of paperwork, signed forms, and documents to be verified. If the couple didn't do that, as far as I can tell, they didn't get married.

Anyway, I think it's fairly universal across jurisdictions that one of the requirements for marriage is the consent of both parties, i.e. that they intended to be married. No consent, no valid marriage. You can't get married by accident.

  • I'm betting he meant "caused to be married", not "got married to". Otherwise, there's also the problem of bigamy. – user6726 Jul 25 '16 at 21:57
  • @user6726: Yes, I realize that. I assumed, based on the "accidentally" wording, that the OP did not intend to officiate a valid marriage, but wondered whether he might have done so anyway. I presume that if the officiant did not intend the marriage to be valid, then the couple also did not intend the marriage to be valid. In that case, they presumably never filed the necessary paperwork, so they do not in fact have a valid marriage. – Nate Eldredge Jul 25 '16 at 22:01
  • @user6726: Nevertheless, obligatory: youtube.com/watch?v=HztsKaQBesg – Nate Eldredge Jul 25 '16 at 22:01

A minister of religion cannot marry anyone: only a marriage celebrant under the local law can. Now most of the former are also the latter, however, this is not necessarily so. If you are not a marriage celebrant you haven't married anyone.


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