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Getting your Marriage License

A Month Before your Wedding: Getting your Marriage License

Are you planning to get married? A marriage license is perhaps the number one thing that you cannot afford to forget. It is perhaps more important than the wedding rings, gown and cake. This is because you cannot legally get married without the document.

Obtaining a license doesn’t automatically change your status from single to married. It simply indicates that you have the legal go-ahead to tie the knot. With it, you can have someone who has the legal power to marry people join you and your significant other.

The minimum requirements and guidelines for obtaining a marriage license are different in different states and countries. It is therefore prudent for you to talk to the authorities in your town’s or city’s administration.

Thankfully, many counties and cities have published this information on their websites for everyone to read. Additionally, you will understand all procedures online including application and fees for obtaining your license.

Basic Information

No matter your home city, county or state, there are some general pieces of information that apply across the board as far as applying for your marriage license is involved. Consider the following tips.

  • Timeline: after application, there is usually a waiting period. Apply in advance so that you can obtain the license in good time before your wedding day. Usually, it is a week or two before the wedding date.
  • Basic prerequisites: In almost all cases, you will need to produce your birth certificate. Additionally, show proof of residency and citizenship by supplying a driver’s license. Have you been widowed or divorced? Authorities will need a divorce decree or a death certificate as appropriate.
  • License fees: The fees for the important document vary from one state to another. Usually, you would have to pay the fees in cash, through a credit card, money order or cashier’s check.
  • Blood tests: Some states still ask for this as a requirement, although many US states have abolished it.

Destination Weddings

Are you planning to get married in a different state? For a destination wedding, ask for requirements surrounding proof of residency. For example, you may have to show proof that you have lived in the state for a certain duration. There may be other regulations depending on your preferred destination of the wedding.

General Procedures

  1. To apply for a wedding permit or license, the wedding groom and bride should submit their identification, all necessary paperwork, and charges. In some cases, their blood tests will be needed by the county clerk in the appointed wedding state or city.
  2. The city authority in charge will either mail the marriage license or have the couple pick it up.
  3. Depending on your state, there will be some waiting period, of a few weeks.
  4. Couples are married by someone in authority who is legally allowed to join two people in the desired state.
  5. These people will have to sign the marriage license- The appointed minister to perform the ceremony, two witnesses, and the newlywed couple.
  6. The minister who performs the wedding ceremony will then return a copy of the marriage license to the office of the county’s clerk.
  7. After a few days or weeks, the couple can then purchase copies of the certified marriage certificate at the office of the town’s clerk.

Click HERE to Download your Traditional Wedding Checklist

Requirements of Popular Wedding Destinations

The procedure only looks complicated because the laws of weddings vary so greatly from state to state. In general, all states require some sort of fees to be raised during application for a marriage license. It is prudent for you to confirm the specific amount at your specific location.

Requirements of New York Marriage License

  • Where to apply: At the office of the city or town clerk.
  • Documents that will be needed: Documents indicating identifications, for both bride and groom. Examples are driver's license, birth certificate, passport, and naturalization record.
  • The validity of marriage license: 60 days
  • Residency and waiting period necessary: 24 hours' after application. 

Requirements of Hawaii Marriage License

  • Where to apply for a marriage license: office of the Department of Health specifically at the Marriage Licensing Office. 
  • Required documents: If you are 21 years older at the time of application, a current driver's license is needed. If you are aged 18 to 20 years, you will need to show a valid birth certificate. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you will be needed to provide written consent from your parent or guardian.
  • The validity of Marriage License: 30 days
  • Waiting period: There is no waiting period here.

Las Vegas Marriage License Requirements

  • Office to apply: Office of the Clark County Marriage Bureau
  • Required documents: Identification such as proof of age, a driver's license or ID card, or your Social Security number.
  • The validity of Marriage License: One year
  • Waiting period: There is no waiting period involved.

Requirements of Florida Marriage License

  • Office to apply: County Clerk of Circuit Court or at the County Court Judge
  • Required documents: Driver's license or your Social Security number
  • The validity of Marriage License: 60 days
  • Residency or Waiting period necessary: a 3-day waiting period. Note that these three days are between the date of application and the legal/effective date of your marriage license.

Requirements of California Marriage License

  • Office to apply: Office of the County Clerk.
  • Required documents: your driver's license or some other valid picture identification. Note that some counties in California could require a birth certificate in addition.
  • The validity of Marriage License: 90 days
  • Waiting period: There is no residency nor waiting period involved here.

How to Obtain a Marriage License

The state will not recognize your marriage as legal if you do not have a marriage license. You may want to go to the bureau or office of marriage registration. As you prepare for that visit, here are pieces of information that you need to consider.

Amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for your wedding and honeymoon, couples often forget the most important document- the wedding license. It is essentially the paper that that permits your eternal love. While it may just be paperwork, but it is very important.

But where do you start? Just like in solving many other puzzles of the modern-day, the internet is a great place to start searching for your wedding license. All states have a legal website that publishes information about requirements, documents, and other required materials.

Decide on the county, city, and state where you want to tie the knot. Next, locate the exact office from where you need to obtain your marriage license. Is it the clerk’s office, city hall, or the marriage licensing bureau? If you are in Connecticut for example, you will have to visit the specific town’s office of the municipal’s clerk.

On the other hand, Iowa’s regulations allow couples to apply for licenses at any office of the town recorder or registrar. In New Jersey and other states, you can download the application brochure, fill all details and then have both bride and groom sign it.

Apart from applying the document itself, consider the duration that the authority will take to have it ready. For example, it takes several days for some states to grant your license. Additionally, some licenses from some states are only valid for a short time. Within this time, you need to have the wedding ceremony itself and return the license in exchange for a certified marriage certificate.

While the basic requirements are similar across states, some vary from one jurisdiction to another. For example, you can only apply for a license if you are not currently legally married to another person. If you were married before, attach your divorce or widowhood documents. The following is a quick checklist of basic requirements.

  • Certificate of birth
  • Parents’ consent if any of the persons getting married is under the age of 18.
  • Photo ID such as your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate.
  • Proof of residency and proof of citizenship
  • Social security number
  • If divorced, a divorce decree is required.
  • If widowed, death certificate of the deceased partner is required.

The office of a marriage license application may additionally ask you if you plan to change your surname after marriage. It is therefore highly recommended of you to discuss this before you apply for a certificate. Ensure you weigh your options before visiting the city clerk's office.

Do you want to wait on this decision? You can work with a legal expert in matters of marriage. A professional should make the name change process very seamless as possible even months after having the wedding.

Armed with this general information, we have listed the top 9 US popular destination wedding spots. We have also included their specific marriage license procedures. Read on to discover some interesting spots.

Florida

  • There is a fee charged. Note that it is cheaper for residents of Florida who have completed a premarital preparation program.
  • The waiting period here is three days for Florida residents. This waiting period is usually waived if the couple has completed a premarital preparation course. There is usually no waiting period for Florida’s non-residents.
  • The license is issued by the county, and you will have to apply at any office of the county clerk.
  • The validity of the license is 60 days.

Las Vegas, Nevada

  • The application fee charged differs from one county to another. It is usually a prerequisite when doing the application.
  • There is no waiting period.
  • The marriage license is issued by clerks of Local County. Specifically, apply to the marriage license bureau in Clark County. When doing so, both bride and groom must appear in person.
  • The license is valid for one year.
  • The person officiating the wedding has 10 days to submit the signed documentation after the wedding ceremony.

Maine

  • There is a fee charged, and the amount varied from one city to another.
  • There is usually no waiting period.
  • Your marriage certificate will be issued by the county. Ensure that you apply at your office of the municipal clerk.
  • The license is valid for 90 days after the date of issue.
  • Ensure you learn more detailed requirements from the town or city in which you reside.

Massachusetts

  • The fee charged here varies from town to town and from city to city and is required at time of application
  • There is a short waiting period of three days.
  • Your marriage license will be issued by the city or town clerk's office.
  • It is valid for 60 days after issue.
  • Learn specific information by visiting the website or office of the clerk in your city or town.

Napa Valley, California

  • The application fee charged here depends on requirements of county and is required at the time of your application.
  • There is no waiting period here.
  • The marriage license will be issued by the county clerk's office. During application and picking it up, both bride and groom must appear in person.
  • The marriage license will be valid for 90 days
  • Do more research to learn more requirements for obtaining your marriage license at Napa County.

Newport, Rhode Island

  • There is a fee charged
  • There is no waiting period
  • License is issued by the office of the city or town clerk
  • The license is valid for 90 days
  • The marriage must occur with two witnesses who are 18 years or older present.

New York City, New York

  • There is a fee charged
  • The waiting period is usually 24 hours
  • License is issued by the office of the city clerk. Both groom and bride must appear in person at any of the offices when applying.
  • Your license is valid for 60 days after issuance.

Aspen, Colorado

  • You will be charged a fixed fee.
  • There is no waiting period
  • The marriage license is issued by any officer of the state county clerk. At the time, both parties will have to appear in person.
  • The license is valid for 35 days after issuance.

Tucson, Arizona

  • There is a fee charged
  • There is no waiting period
  • Your marriage license is issued by the office of justice court where both parties have to appear in person.
  • The license valid for 12 months after issuance

Are you not sure where to start the planning of your wedding? Talk to experienced wedding planners in your city. As they have a rich history of working within your area, they have the skills required to put together a memorable wedding celebration.

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