What You Need to Know About Marriage Licenses

Here's how to make sure you're actually married after the big day!

What You Need to Know About Marriage Licenses

Photo: Artisan Events

how to get a marriage license

A marriage license might not be as romantic as your wedding, but it is certainly necessary. Your nuptials may pronounce you wedded in the eyes of your house of worship, if you choose to have a religious ceremony. However, like it or not, it is important to have your marriage recognized in the eyes of the government as well.

In order to make sure you’re actually married after your wedding, we’ve gathered the most useful information you’ll need for filing your marriage license. Please note that this applies to couples in the United States, and the laws often vary by state. It’s always a good idea to check the specific rules for where you live, but this will give you a good place to start. You don’t want to be blindsided by unknown requirements the week before your wedding!

What to Bring:

- Birth certificate/Social Security number – in some cases a passport will suffice as well.

- Photo ID
- If this is not your first marriage, you will need to provide proof of divorce, or a death certificate if you are a widow or widower. It may be morbid and put a downer on the proceedings, but the state needs to make sure you are legally able to wed.

- Parental consent if you are underage.

- There is usually a fee that can range from $30 to over $90, and some clerk’s offices require that it is in cash, so be prepared.

- In Mississippi and the District of Columbia, a blood test is required for both parties. In Montana it is only required for women.

When to File:
- Depending on the state, you either will receive your marriage license right away, or you will have a waiting period for up to six days.

- They are valid for either 30, 60, or 90 days, once again varying by state. 

- Within the time frame that your marriage license is valid, you will have your wedding and be married by an officiant who is legally recognized in your state. After the ceremony, you and your new spouse sign the marriage license along with your officiant and one or two witnesses.

- Still within the period your license is valid, it must be dropped off at your county clerk's office. Some officiants may do this for you, or you can drop it off yourself.

- If you are marrying outside of the USA you have to file for a marriage license in that country. Alternatively, you could do a quick courthouse wedding in your home county and then have your ceremony for your destination wedding, like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen did.

Discover more wedding planning tips here, browse real weddings from all over the country, and be sure to follow Inside Weddings on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for daily wedding ideas!

Opening photo by Artisan Events