bride and groom kissing behind just married sign

How, Where and When to Get a Marriage License

Jun 18, 2018
By Wedding Spot

When you dream of getting married, a magical first kiss as spouses surrounded by friends and loved ones typically comes to mind. Waiting around in a courthouse and signing government documents? Not so much. Typically paperwork isn’t on anyone’s list of romantic visions of the future, but it’s the most important aspect of making sure your marriage is official. Find out the answers to your burning questions about getting a marriage license below!

Check out the answers to our marriage license FAQs:

Where can I get a marriage license?

The best place to obtain a marriage license is the county clerk’s office in the state where you intend to say “I do.” Having a destination wedding? Build in time to get a license in your venue’s city. Be forewarned: This can be a time consuming process, so be sure to budget at least a few hours into your plans.

What do I need to bring with me?

While the exact items needed to obtain your license will vary depending on the state, here are some general recommendations of things you should bring with you:

  • Your Partner (you’ll both need to sign the license)

  • Birth Certificate or Passport

  • Driver’s License or other Photo ID

  • Money (marriage licenses in all states cost money, but this cost varies)

  • Witness (if your state requires)

  • Certificate of Divorce or Death Certificate (if previously married)

  • Parent (if under age the age of 18)

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When should I get a marriage license?

When it comes to marriage licenses, timing is everything. If you don’t get married within the appropriate time period, your marriage won’t be legal. You need to make sure that your license is valid for the date and place where you say your “I do’s.”

In this case, it’s not always good to proactive. For example, if you get a license 6 months before the big day, but your license is only good for 30 days, you’ll have to apply for your license all over again.

Keep in mind that some states have waiting periods as well. For example, in New Jersey, you can’t get married until 3 days after you have obtained your marriage license. Marriage license expiration dates and waiting periods vary per region so be sure to look this up before jaunting over to your county clerk’s office.

Keep regional rules in mind

Where you live will largely determine the nitty-gritty details of how and when to get a license. Exact processes and parameters can vary dramatically from state to state -- or even county to county! Be sure to do your research and look into the exact “when’s and how’s” of obtaining your marriage license.

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.