How to Get a Marriage License 101

marriage license facts - gay marriage
You’ve got the perfect dress and an amazing pair of bridal shoes and one-of-a-kind wedding jewelry for your big day. The venue is booked and your photog is saving the date. You’ve even chosen cake flavors. Your big day is approaching fast and you feel ready. But are you? Could you be forgetting something like, I don’t know, the legal stuff?

Putting a ring on it is all well and good but if your goal is to make legal you need to do the legwork. The requirements vary somewhat by state and the easiest way to find out what you need to do to take getting married all the way is by calling city hall. Since I’m not covering all 50 states’ rules, I can only give you the basics as outlined here. When you need to know more CALL CITY HALL. Seriously, they will give you the on the ground local skinny.

The General Requirements

You need to bring ID. In most states, that means an up-to-date driver’s license. Or your passport. You’ll probably also need to know your social security number but won’t be required to show your card.

Locals Only?

You won’t run up against residency requirements when you’re applying for a marriage license anywhere in the US. Except… In some counties or states, non-residents cannot obtain a marriage license if the marriage would be void in their home state. If you’re one half of a gay couple, keep this in mind.

No Blood Tests

While the pre-marital blood test still shows up in some movies, very few states actually require couples planning to get hitched to also get pricked. No US state requires a physical.

The Waiting Game

Don’t wait too long to go to city hall and grab a license if you’re getting married anywhere that’s not close to home! In some states, there is a waiting period so you’ll have to apply this or that many days before the ceremony.

Your Vows

There are a handful of states that require couples to include specific wording in their wedding vows. But don’t worry, none of them include “…and obey.”

Pre-Marital Prepwork

There are some states where you can get around the waiting period or get a discount on the cost of the license by having taken a pre-marital counseling course. This usually applies only to local couples, though.

‘I do’ and Done

Your officiant, not you, will be responsible for submitting the completed marriage license to the county where you applied. A copy of your marriage certificate may be sent to you or you may have to order it once it has been processed.

Don’t Dilly-Dally

Most marriage licenses are only valid for 30-60 days after you file your application. Wait to long and it could turn out that your vows aren’t actually binding, yikes!

Your Age, Please

Every state has its own rules about how old you need to be to get hitched. In many the minimum age is probably a lot younger than you’d think, so I doubt you’ll have any issues here. Your license or passport will serve as proof of age.


You’ll need to prove it when you apply. Forget this vital step and your marriage could be null and void!

And Bring Your Checkbook

The fee to file a marriage license application will vary considerably from place to place. Many county registrar offices do not accept credit cards so to be safe, bring your checkbook or cash.

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How Not to Tick Anyone Off When You Register for Your Wedding

Wedding gifts are great and wedding gifts are complicated. People will look at you like you’re a weirdo if you don’t register anywhere. People will talk about you behind your back if you register for anything they think is too expensive or not strictly wedding-y. People will go off-registry to buy wedding gifts, which is okay, and buy you all kinds of wacky stuff you’re going to immediately donate to charity, which is also okay.

Me, I like to give couples a check because it’s easy, portable, and almost always appreciated. But lots of other folks will give you diddly if you don’t show up at Target or Nordstrom or wherever to zap everything you never knew you wanted for your home. Look, if you didn’t already know here is the deal: Word of mouth is really only the “proper” way to inform people where you and your honey are registered. Hopefully, people will make the effort to ask you where y’all are registered if it’s not common knowledge.

If you want to ensure that no one buys you anything, feel free to put your registry information right on your wedding invitation. Ha ha, only kidding. If you do that, you’re also ensuring no RSVPs, no guests, and no big bash reception due to low attendance. HOWEVER, there is an easy workaround. You get yourself a wedding website – and there are like nine-hundred ways to do that, many for free – and put your wedding registry info, including links, right on your site. Since you’re using new-fangled tech, at least insofar as weddings are concerned since the pace of innovation moves like cold molasses in this sphere, you’re not technically* breaking any etiquette rules.

And now, in case you need reminding…

Things not to put on your registry:

  • Your wedding dress and bridal jewelry.
  • Your wedding night undies.
  • A Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 (sorry guys!)
  • A standalone electric pizza cooker – I swear to Miss Manners you will never use this
  • Personal lubricants
  • Exotic animals
  • Mail-order sister wives

All right, I’m being a little over the top – but I’d love to hear what you think should never, ever be on a wedding registry!

*See what I did there?

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8 Things NOT to Do Before Your Wedding

Wedding planning guides like mine spend a lot of time telling brides-to-be what they SHOULD be doing. I thought it might be fun to share some wedding planning DON’Ts for once! Here are :

1. It’s your day, yes, but please do not justify being a brat by telling everyone that it’s your day. It’s also your SO’s day and your family’s day and even to some extent your guests’ day since after getting hitched the secondary objective of a wedding should be showing people a good time.

2. Do not leave buying bridal accessories until the very last minute. Once you have your wedding gown, give yourself some time to try out different wedding jewelry, shoes, and headpieces. Many stores have amazing return policies – but it only works if you have enough time to place an order, wait for shipping, try it on, and send it back before doing it all again if necessary.

3. Do not tan. By now you surely know how unhealthy tanning can be, and fake tans are getting better and better anyway. Especially do not go tanning, outside or at a salon, a few days before or the day before your wedding. There is always the chance you’ll bake just a touch too long and end up resembling a cooked lobster. Not a good bridal look!

4. Do not go on a bender – intentional or not – the night before your wedding. A few glasses of wine with dinner is totally okay, but too many brides have a little too much after eating far too little because of nerves or a last ditch diet. Trust me when I say you do not want to be even a little hungover when you say your vows. And there’s this, too:


5. Speaking of bridal diets, do not diet yourself into exhaustion in the weeks leading up to your wedding. Your gown will be a certain size and then altered to fit your body perfectly. Lose too much weight and you’ll be swimming in what would have been an amazing dress tailored just for you.

6. Do not, if at all possible, hold the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Typically these turn into family and friend reunions, and so can go late and get crazy. Ideally you want to get a good night’s sleep the evening before your wedding day and having a party the night before is not the way to do that.


7. Do not assume you have all the time in the world to make reservations or confirm with vendors. Wedding planning timelines exist for a good reason: planning what is essentially a giant party complete with themed décor and multiple courses of refreshments and (sometimes) a full bar isn’t easy. That’s why for some it really is a full-time job.

8. Do not lose sight of what really matters. It’s easy to get so completely wrapped up in planning a wedding that you forget to spend time with your SO. Sometimes one half of a couple is excited about the prep – and sometimes it falls on just one person’s shoulders. Either way, be sure to make time for each other… time that does not include looking at fabric swatches and asking vendors for estimates.

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Choosing Wedding Invitations: Requesting the Honour of Their Presence at Every Price Point

(Ed. note: Today’s post is an excerpt from iDo: Planning Your Wedding with Nothing But Net by Christa Terry. Check it out!)

Once upon a time, wedding invitations included an outer envelope, an inner envelope, a folded invitation card, a response card with its own envelope, a reception card, and a bunch of little squares of tissue paper that kept runny ink from getting all over everything. Really elegant invitations were made of oversized heavy ecru cardstock engraved with richly colored inks. You can still get invites of this sort, but be prepared to pay a premium for them. There is an art to packing a multi-component invitation, and the whole process is thoroughly outlined at To make a long story short, response cards, RSVP envelopes, and reception cards take up different positions depending on how the invitations itself is folded and where the text appears. The thing is, it’s unlikely that any of your invitees will be particularly familiar with this paper folding etiquette, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

via Woodland Papercuts

The big players in the nuptial paper world are the invitations, which come in hundreds of sizes, shapes, colors, and configurations. That said, be prepared to see the same paper and printing options again and again and again if you’re planning on buying mass-produced invites. An affiliate program launched by Carlson Craft has, to some extent, dominated the online invitation world with their cceasy program. You’re going to see a lot of online invitation shops that look just like the sample site at—the prices appear to be set by Carlson Craft so you’re not going to find a better deal unless you can find a store that isn’t a part of the cceasy program that carries the same merchandise. Good luck with that.

You can stick it to the mainstream by looking at the many, many alternative options out there. The plainest of modern invitations typically consist of one envelope, a single invitation card, a response card with an envelope, and a reception card, but there’s no reason to settle for unadorned vellum. The inner envelopes and tissue squares of yesteryear have been replaced by ornate ribbons and charms, brightly colored wraps, and complicated systems of overlays. The more intricate invitations are usually the most visually interesting, but they can also leave recipients feeling a little confused. If you suspect your loved ones won’t be able to navigate the complex scheme of knots and bows on highly embellished invites, opt for something simpler.

Some invitations will always be more impressive than others. crafts dramatic invitations made of laser-engraved birch, cherry, oak, maple, and walnut woods. At, you can order custom designed invites in beautiful fabric enclosures. Would you prefer that each of your invitations be hand painted by an artist? Stop by to get a feel for the cost of originality. It’s not at all difficult to find invitations in bottles, scrolled invitations, seeded invitations that can be planted, and cards that come wrapped in silk envelopes.

Be aware, however, that impressiveness is almost always pricey.

(Image via Woodland Papercuts, which you should also check out!)

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What are Casual Wedding Invitations – and are They Really Casual?

When a bride-to-be tells us she’s planning a casual wedding, what she often really means is that she’s planning a simple wedding. A truly casual wedding – and make no mistake, they do happen – might have people showing up in jeans, coolers of Bud, a groom in board shorts, and the bride herself wearing nothing more complicated than a sundress. Think backyard barbecue weddings without the dressing up that backyard barbecue weddings usually receive.

casual wedding

Simple weddings, on the other hand, are about dressed-down ambiance and understated elegance. Typically, simplicity begins by stripping a ceremony and reception down to their barest elements and then building them back up again very carefully using a minimalist, free-spirited aesthetic as a guide. Think supermarket flowers arranged by the bride herself in an assortment of carefully chosen vintage milk glass – all thoughtfully thrifted, of course. Simple sheath dresses, perfectly tailored, on both the bride and her maids. A cake that looks just rustic enough to pass for homemade even though its look was specifically requested by the couple.

In wedding parlance, simple can mean almost anything. You know it when you see it, we think. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but that doesn’t mean that the bridal accessories, venue, refreshments, clothing, décor, and transportation didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Wedding invitations are one area where couples mistake simple for casual. A truly casual wedding invitation would be one written by the bride-to-be herself – and we all know that ain’t happening. A simple wedding invitation, on the other hand, is one that employs uncomplicated language and isn’t fussy. No tissue paper inserts or gold embossing here. Think letterpress invites on plain (yet quality) cardstock. Maybe with a quirky graphic custom designed for the couple for good measure. And the wording? Straightforward, like so:

Jane Marie Smith &

John Jacob Johnson

Invite you to share in their joy

on their wedding day.

Saturday, May 25, 2015

at five o’clock in the evening

Perdullis Inn

6 Severo Way

Salem, MA 01915

Dinner and dancing to follow

If this all sounds wonderful, you’re in good company. More and more couples are opting not for casual wedding invitations but rather for simple ones. It makes sense. Weddings, though no less expensive, are certainly getting less fussy as time marches on. And we like that.

Do you?

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Your Bridal Style: Dressed Up or Dressed Down?

You’re planning a wedding, focusing on your guests’ experience and creating an event that is a reflection of your and your spouse’s two hearts. It is, we know, a lot of work! There’s so much to think about… the venue, how you want people to remember the day, cake flavors, wedding favors, and more. But maybe you’re forgetting something.

Maybe you’re forgetting your own bridal style.

We’d wager you have a personal style, but maybe you want to rock something a little different on one of the most important days of your life. Could be that in the day to day you’re a dressed down tomboy and you want to glam up – hello CZ wedding jewelry – for your ceremony and reception. How do you want people to see you? Flirty and fun… or sophisticated and elegant? Dressed up or dressed down?

dressed up bridal style

The wonderful thing about planning a wedding is that when it comes to your bridal style, the sky is the limit. Be yourself, or be someone else. Your wedding is the ultimate excuse to play dress up. You can be princess for the day if you really want to – just imagine yourself as royalty! Or not, if you balk at the notion of stepping out of your favorite pair of jeans. Not that we’re suggesting you get married in them (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but we do think it’s fine to consider the real you when you’re envisioning your bridal style. Carefree and comfortable is a wonderful look to pursue.

dressed down bridal style

There are no right or wrong answers. Though do consider where you’ll be spending the bulk of your wedding… indoors or outdoors, in the heat or frosty cold, on grass or parquet floors. This is your time to shine and we recommend creating your own light instead of mimicking someone else’s. Dress up or dress down, it’s all wonderful. Create your own bridal style – one that’s relaxed, happy, confident, and beautiful.

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Wedding Planning Luxe: Live Event Painting

If it wasn’t enough that brides-to-be had to choose between a DJ and live band, now there’s wedding photography versus live event painting. Okay, maybe not, but live event painting is definitely a trending wedding add-on! If you love art, hiring a painting to capture the emotion of your ceremony or reception might just be for you.


What it is: Live event painting is just what it sounds like. An artist comes to your ceremony or reception and, over the course of the event, creates a one-of-a-kind, romantic painting that you can hang proudly in your home.

How much it costs: Every artist is different, and painters will have their own styles, favorite medium, and price tags. But expect to pay anywhere from $500 to more than $5,000.

What to consider: Does your wedding venue allow painters? Be sure your ceremony or reception venue is okay with having an artist in attendance using materials like paints and solvents.

Now as much as this is modish at this moment, live event painting is nothing new and is actually rooted in centuries of tradition. On top of becoming a treasured keepsake, your finished painting may appreciate in value over time and will certainly be a family heirloom that outlives you. We love the idea of having the finished work scanned and printed onto thank you cards so guests get to see the result of the artist’s work.

What’s also very cool about having a live event painter at your wedding is that watching the artist at work can be yet another diversion for guests. When your loved ones aren’t actually gathered around the painter doing his or her thing, they’ll probably be talking about your choice to have a real live art pro in situ. That’s why we recommend choosing an artist who won’t be bothered by a little friendly chitchat or questions from your wedding guests. That way, he or she won’t mind the interruption and your guests can learn more about this luxe trend.

Image via

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The Meaningful Bridal Bouquet

The language of flowers sounds romantic, but the original Victorian glossary of flower meanings is actually much more complex. It was originally created, so the story goes, to make courtship a little easier in a time when letting your feelings show was all but verboten. Now it remains a little quirk of history – an oddity you can draw inspiration from or not when you’re thinking about your bridal bouquet, reception flowers, bouquet jewelry, etc.

pink orchid bridal bouquet

Creating a meaningful bridal bouquet isn’t easy, though. It turns out that those Victorians were sometimes a dreary bunch. I guess if you’re using flowers to communicate clandestinely with potential partners, you’re eventually going to be using them to facilitate your secret breakups. Consider an arrangement of bright daffodils and daisies wrapped in delicate fern leaves – you might give this to a crush whose innocence you value. On the other hand, a bouquet containing pretty asphodel speaks only to the giver’s regrets.

Lilacs? Mean love. Lavender? Can mean distrust. Yellow carnations communicate rejection and disdain, whereas striped carnations are a straight up “no”.

Though it’s fun to scroll through lists of flower meanings, I don’t recommend using the Victorian language of flowers to create your bridal bouquet. First, it’s highly unlikely that none of your wedding guests will know what your floral choices mean – or give a fig about them if they do. And second, cobbling together a bouquet of symbolic blooms probably won’t result in the bridal bouquet of your dreams. Better to turn a blind eye to this antiquated code so you and your floral designer can create something beautiful, seasonally appropriate, and just right for your ceremony.

What’s your bridal bouquet’s inadvertent meaning?

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The Skinny on CZ, Rhinestones, and Swarovski Crystals

Shopping for wedding jewelry and bridal accessories and gowns and shoes can be just a little confusing. There are sometimes so many options in front of brides-to-be that it’s easier just to step away from the computer and think about something else. We get it. We really do. But we also spend so much time curating our inventory of wedding jewelry that we tend to forget how overwhelming it is.

Looking through a page of 50 wedding jewlery sets is fun – bump that up to 150 sets and suddenly it’s more than a little tedious. There’s nothing wrong with options, sure, but how do you even start narrowing it down? By color? By style? Or how about by gem? Even that can be tres confusing because again, there are so many options.

That’s why we want to help you narrow down what you want. We can’t choose your wedding jewelry for you, but we can give you the knowledge you need to make an amazing choice yourself! So let’s talk about stones. Specifically, cubic zirconia, crystals, and rhinestones – how they’re the same, how they’re different, and when you should wear which!


The Rhine is a river than runs through Germany, and rhinestones are so named because the original sparkling diamond lookalikes were cut from the rock crystals gathered along the river. Now most rhinestones are made of hardened glass that is hand cut like diamonds and coated at the base with a mirror-like finish that enhances the sparkle of the individual facets. Aurora Borealis rhinestones were first created by Swarovski are coated with a metallic glaze that turns ordinary rhinestones into iridescent jewels.

swarovski crystal tiara

Glass Crystal

These gems are created from a mixture of glass and lead – without the lead, glass crystals wouldn’t have the same ability to catch the light. Clear or colored, a crystal’s radiance will be determined by the lead content, the quality of the glass, the ability of the cutter, and the placement of the individual facets. Glass crystal can be cut into beads or like gems, and then used like rhinestones.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski crystals are precision cut glass beads made with a top secret recipe of natural minerals, metals, and quartz. They were first created in 1892 in Austria when Daniel Swarovski invented a new kind of crystal cutting machine that allowed cutters to create quality cuts like never before. Because of their unique composition, Swarovski crystals are incredibly brilliant and are uniformly clear all the way through. Fun fact: The facets on Swarovski crystal always meet at a single point.

CZ wedding jewelry 2


These are true simulated diamonds that possess a clarity and brilliance close to that of the gems they imitate. Cubic zirconia is a man-made gem produced by applying huge amounts of pressure to carbon and other elements – essentially copying a process that takes nature eons to complete. Dyes can be added to the mix to give CZ gems color, but whether clear or colored, cubic zirconia is most beautiful when cut by an expert and mounted in an open-backed setting.

Are you leaning toward CZ wedding jewelry that will mimic the look of true diamonds or a more playful crystal wedding jewlery set?

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Should You Have an Unplugged Wedding?

The newest trend in weddings is not some sparkling bridal accessory or the color of the moment, but rather the unplugged wedding.

In this, the age of ubiquitous iPhone, it’s not unusual to have your view of the bride and groom blocked by some taller guest taking hundreds of snapshots with a tablet. Most of us have gotten used to the fact that at least one guest per wedding will be live-tweeting the ceremony and reception. But a growing number of couples are now asking guests to disconnect for a few hours – and the hope is that everyone will have a more meaningful, more enjoyable time in the process.

Wedding photographers in particular are advocating for the unplugged wedding. While a majority of wedding guests fancy themselves photogs, snapping away during the ceremony kiss and the first dance, there’s the question of whether they (or the couple) will ever even look at those Instagram pics. The professional photographer who is at the wedding to work, on the other hand, has a vested interest in getting the best shots – and isn’t there to enjoy himself or herself. Wedding guests, the notion goes, should put their gadgets away and just enjoy the wedding. They can always check out the “real” photog’s online gallery later.

unplugged weddings - discount wedding veils

Other arguments for the unplugged wedding: Turning off phones means no chance of a ringtone interrupting the ‘I do’s. No chance of someone with their head down in a pew texting instead of listening to the couple’s original wedding vows. If guests aren’t taking pics, there’s no chance of unflattering cake smashing shots ending up on Facebook or Tumblr. The bride won’t have to deal with guests lining the aisle with iPhones held high.

But is it etiquette-appropriate to request that your wedding guests turn off (or even turn over) their digital devices for the duration of the event? I’ve heard stories of guests being asked to leave for violating no phone rules, but I’ve never actually been to a wedding where the couple requested that phones stay in pockets.

I don’t think I’d be particularly offended to see a politely worded request on the ceremony program, a la “The Bride and Groom request that guests turn off their phones for the duration of the ceremony and reception. The photographer will be posting photos online. Please just enjoy yourself.” But I also recognize I might be alone in that opinion!

Have you been to an unplugged wedding? Or are you planning one yourself?

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