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.

Divorced?

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.