How to Apply for a Marriage License

If you are planning a wedding, one of the most important tasks that should be on your list is to apply for your marriage license. After all, without the license, there cannot be a marriage. No matter what type of wedding your planning – a formal affair, backyard nuptials, or a destination wedding – you need to obtain a marriage license. A wedding venue recommends can take care of the rest.

After the wedding, you will need a certified copy of your marriage license in order to take care of legal issues that come with marriage. This can include changing your name on your Social Security card, bank accounts, mortgage, and other credit accounts. You may also need to make changes to whatever estate planning documents you already have and will need your marriage license to make changes to any trusts you have set up and your will.

The first thing you need to do is decide where you will wed. Requirements for marriage licenses vary by state and even by the county. You will need to find out if there is any waiting period from the time you apply and the time you can exchange vows, as well as how long the license is valid for before it expires.  

What documents do you need to apply for a marriage license?

Typically, you and your fiancé will need to bring a birth certificate. Many states require a certified birth certificate, not just a copy. You will also need to provide proof of your identity, citizenship and residence. A state or federally issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, will satisfy that requirement. If either you or your fiancé has been married before, you will need to bring copies of the divorce decree or death certificate if the former spouse had passed away.

Are there fees to get married?

There are usually fees when you are applying for a marriage license. These fees will vary by the municipality you live in. Fees can usually be paid by money order, personal check, or cash.

Do we need to get a blood test?

At one time, every state had a requirement that every couple who applies for a marriage license had to obtain blood tests beforehand. Many states have eliminated the blood test requirement so you will need to find out if that is a requirement in the town you are applying for a license in.

Other Marriage License Requirements

There are other requirements that the state you are getting married in may have. Although the requirements do vary, the following are a general overview of what these conditions may be:

  • Both parties must be 18 years of age or older. If underage, then parental consent is needed.
  • Proof of sound mental capacity.
  • Consent of both parties. If one party is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, mental illness, or any other factor that could affect the party’s judgment, the marriage could be declared invalid.
  • Proof that the couple are not close blood relatives.
  • A marriage ceremony performed by an officiant recognized by the state and witnessed by one or two people, depending on the rules of the state.
  • The marriage license must be recorded by the officiant.