You’ve met the love of your life and now you’re getting hitched. Congratulations! Likely you’ve started making a list of all the things you need to plan for the wedding, from buying a dress to ordering the invitations, to picking out the flowers. All of that fun stuff that adds a personal touch to your special day.
When planning your upcoming nuptials, be sure to be prepared for one of the most important things—the marriage license. It’s not one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding, but one of the most vital. Because without it, you can’t be officially married. Just imagine if you went to all the work of planning a wedding and forgot to get a license at all! You couldn’t be officially married.
In some states you could hurry down to the county clerk’s office and apply for one; but in other states you wouldn’t be able to get a same-day license. That’s why it’s important for you to learn about the particulars of getting a marriage license in your state. There are some things you need to know about how to get one, so to make it easy here are tips on how to get a marriage license in 10 simple steps:
1. Set your wedding location as early as possible
The state and county will make a difference when applying for a marriage license as application requirements vary.
2. Find the phone number and address of that county clerk’s office
In most cases, that is where you’ll be applying for your marriage license. Call and ask questions about how to apply and what you’ll need to apply. Also find out the days and times they are open, and if they charge more for Saturday applications.
3. Figure out the optimal timeframe for you to apply
This is one of the most important details to plan for. Some states have a waiting period before you can use your marriage license, so you need to get it in advance. But also, some states require you to use the marriage license within a certain amount of time. This is critical to make sure you can get your marriage license when you need it.
For example: If you’re getting married in Idaho, there is no waiting period or expiration, so you can get it a year in advance or the same day as the wedding. But if you are getting married in New York, there is a 24 hour waiting period and a 60-day expiration; in that case make sure to apply at least one day before your wedding but not more than 60 days before.
4. Make sure that both of you go in to apply
You both must be present in order to get a marriage license.
5. Be sure you both pass the age requirements
Each state has different age requirements for marriage. If you are not old enough, you’ll need parental permission to get married in that state.
6. Each of you must bring photo ID
Bring IDs such as a driver’s license or passport, any necessary paperwork (ask the county clerk for specifics, like a birth certificate if you are under age), and the application fee, which varies quite a bit by state and sometimes even by county. In New York you’ll page $35, in Maine it’s $40, in Oregon it’s $60.
7. When it is ready, pick up the marriage license
Pick up the license or have it mailed to you. Keep it somewhere safe until your wedding day. Don’t forget to bring it with you on your special day! It’s a good idea to keep it in a file folder or some other protective container to keep it from getting folded or smudged.
8. Sign in
After you are married by someone authorized to do so in your state, such as a religious leader, judge, clerk or justice of the peace, then that officiator, two witnesses, and you and your new spouse, all sign the marriage license. Bring a pen!
9. Return the licence
Have someone, usually the officiator (ask the clerk’s office for specifics), return the license to the to the county clerk’s office so it can be recorded. This is important to do right away.
10. Almost done!
In about a week, you can purchase a certified copy of the completed marriage license in person and perhaps also by mail. You don’t have to, but on your way home purchase a nice frame to put it in. You can even hang it on the wall where some of your wedding photos will go!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.