With This Ring
After finding misinformation on many sites regarding who can solemnize a marriage (even posted by other officiants!), I would like to address the legalities of who is authorized according to MI law.
The law states: Marriages may be performed by federal, probate, district, and municipal judges, and district court magistrates, in their court area; mayors, in their city; County clerks;ministers and pastors of the gospel, both resident and non-resident. The Michigan Statutes also have a provision that allows for marriages to "be solemnized in the manner heretofore used and practiced in their respective societies or denominations."
The truth about ordination: Some people or websites will try to warn you (with the purpose of getting you to use their services) with articles about states that have outlawed future marriages for those who were ordained online or by specific churches. I will add that there really is no such thing as an "online ordination" per se. It is a misnomer. The application process happens online, but the ordination is through a brick and mortar church. If someone is getting ordained just to perform one wedding, they likely will not know any of the things necessary to do a proper ceremony, and you're going to get a copy of something off the internet that thousands of others used (certainly not very special).
Also, many states no longer have JPs and so those are only an option in very few states and not in Michigan. Likewise with Notary Public, who are only allowed to officiate marriage in 3 states currently and again, not Michigan.
A thorough check was done by myself and a few colleagues regarding the specifics of MI and IN law. I not only checked with a couple of area county clerks and a judge's office, but so have a couple of colleagues (some writing congress and representatives), and there is no such legislation in place. However, even if there were, Michigan law protects people who marry in good faith (link below), and declares their marriage valid. This should ease your mind of any concerns.
Must the officiant have an active congregation or be on staff at a church?: No, according to the Michigan state law you do not need to tend a congregation or be on staff of a local church. Retired ministers officiate weddings all over Michigan. Your minister may just have graduated and be waiting assignment by his ordaining denomination, they could have an online ministry, and there are countless other non-traditional ministries.
Licensing, Incorporation, and the IRS: I would question any officiant that says they are licensed, unless the certification they receive from their ordaining organization is referred to as a license. The state occupational license division (link below) clearly states that Michigan does not issue licenses for ministers. It also states: An ordained minister of the gospel recognized by a church may perform marriages whether or not the church has filed a charter with the Corporation Division. (Though this makes a church more "official", many small churches do not do this for a variety of reasons.)Because a church files for IRS 501(c)3 status is not an indication of whether a church is a church... it only means that the church meets the criteria to be a non-profit, and is no indicator of whether or not the person (or church) can officiate marriage.
What is your status, Rev. Carleen?: I have studied religion since I was 14 years old. Though I began my study elsewhere, for many reasons, I chose to ordain through the ULC. I have (as of this writing) officiated over 400 legal weddings in both Michigan and Indiana. I hope you don't just dismiss a minister based solely upon the ULC or other ordination. I have witnessed great ceremonies by those people and by seminary ordained, but have also witnessed some boring and not so great ones by both seminary ordained, judges and other ULC. Remember that reviews and endorsements speak volumes in your research.
You can't stop loving or wanting to love because when its right it's the best thing in the world. When you're in a relationship and its good, even if nothing else in your life is right, you feel like your whole world is complete.
-- Keith Sweat