When you’re young and dreaming of your future spouse and marriage, your mind is filled with all sorts of fanfare. The dress, the flowers, the cake, the rings. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have everyone you love there to be part of it with you? It all seems so important and grand.
Then when you grow up and meet the man or woman of your dreams, you can hardly believe it’s real. Now you get to plan the wedding you always dreamed of. You painstakingly take care of every detail and spend all of your extra time and money on the wedding plans. You want it to be absolutely perfect.
The funny thing is, it really takes very little for you to actually be married to someone. In essence, you just need someone to marry, a marriage license, an officiator and some witnesses. That’s it! Of course, you can certainly do all that other stuff, like cake and dancing and presents. It’s tradition, isn’t it? Even though it’s not required, it’s pretty fun.
But don’t feel like you have to. Whether you’re having a the wedding of the century or just keeping it to you and your spouse-to-be, most everyone follows the same basic steps to getting married. Here are the 6 basics steps to getting married.
1. Find Someone You Like a Lot
This may be the longest and most involved step of the whole process. If you are single, you’ll need to meet people, spend time together, date a lot, narrow it down to one, and then fall in love with someone. Also, make sure the person loves you back! Then comes meeting each other’s families, talking about your futures, and making sure you’re going to be compatible long-term. If after you’ve been together for a while and you still like each other, you’re golden. You can then move on to step 2.
2. Propose to Your Honey or Accept a Proposal
After you’ve been serious for a while, bring up the subject of marriage. If your honey reacts favorably, you’re in the clear. Go ahead and propose. You can do something grand, like hiring a plane to write in the sky, or just simply getting down on one knee and asking straight out. Don’t forget the ring. Or if you aren’t the one proposing, simply keep hunting until he asks, then accept. You are officially engaged! Engagements can last anywhere from minutes to years—it’s really up to both of you.
3. Set a Date and Plan the Wedding
This will likely be the second longest part of the process. Most brides want about a year to plan and you both need a year to be able to pay for it all. Or if you’re both ok with doing something small, then go that route. At any rate, set a date you both can agree on. Then get a dress and a tux, invite your friends and family, and if it’s on the menu, plan a reception with food and music and décor that reflects both of you.
4. Get a Marriage License
The particulars of this step vary from state to state. But basically, call your local courthouse and ask when and where you need to apply for a marriage license. Be sure to ask if how old you both need to be, how much it costs, what forms of ID you need to bring along when you pick it up, and how long you have from application until expiration (some also have a waiting period of one or more days from when you apply until when you are able to use it). Also, there are a few states that require a blood test. Typically then the officiator who marries you has the marriage certificate, which they sign, you sign, and two witnesses sign, and then the officiator files it with the court. Then you’ll receive a copy in the mail in a few weeks.
5. Find an Officiator to Marry You
If you’re getting married at the courthouse, then while you’re on the phone for step 4 just ask who can marry you and when—typically a judge, justice of the peace or a court clerk. If you’re getting married somewhere else, get an officiator who is authorized to marry in your state; for a religious ceremony a member of the clergy will work. Many people charge for these services, so ask for rates and availability. Always place a reminder call the week/day before.
6. Show Up and Say “I Do”
Now you just have to show up and get hitched! Get dressed in your best duds, head to your destination, and walk down the aisle. You can say vows (or not) but really, all you have to say is “I do.” Once you are pronounced a married couple, let the fun begin!