What will I need for the marriage license application for my wedding?
Prior to the wedding date, the bride and groom will need to fill out the marriage license or wedding permit application. The typical items asked for on a marriage license
application for the bride and groom are: the bride's and groom's name, where the bride and groom were born and when, the bride's and groom's personal contact information, information
on any previous marriages, the bride's and groom's education and occupations, and each of their father and mother's names. You will
also have to pay a small fee in order to have a license for the wedding. Some states require
the couple to appear in person (and bring proof of
identification), and some even require a blood test for the bride and groom. Apply
for a marriage license now by finding your state using
the map below.
Why do I need a marriage license for my wedding?
As part of the wedding ceremony the married couples are given certain rights
and obligations under the federal and state laws of the United States, so it is
necessary to ensure that the man and woman have entered
into a binding contract that will be legally recognized
and recorded on the government’s books and records. In
order for the wedding to result in a binding marriage under law the man and
woman must have the capacity to consent to and consummate
the marriage, meaning they must be of the appropriate
age and have the mental capacity to make the decision
and understand the commitment they are making during the wedding ceremony when they make their wedding vows. The wedding ceremony
must also be conducted by an individual with the authority
to solemnize the marriage by law. The marriage license
application process is meant to ensure that these criteria
are met for the wedding.
What do I need to do to validate the license for the wedding?
A marriage license is usually only valid for a wedding ceremony during a specific
period of time and then it expires (between 30 days
and 1 year depending on the state). Additionally, some
states require a short waiting period (usually 3 days)
before the license becomes valid to ensure that the
couple is not rushing into marriage and to avoid annulments
or divorce. You must solemnize the marriage in a wedding
ceremony within the prescribed time period and have
the marriage license signed by the wedding officiator and usually
one or two witnesses. After the wedding, the marriage license must then
be returned to the designated government office to be
finalized and placed on the official records. A marriage
certificate will be sent to you within a few weeks.
If the bride wishes to change her name, the marriage
certificate must be taken to the social security office
and have her name legally changed. She would also have
to change her name on her driver’s license and car registration
at the department of motor vehicles, on her passport
and any other memberships, credit cards, bank accounts,
etc. The name change for the spouse is not automatic.
Who can perform the wedding ceremony?
A wedding ceremony can be performed by any officiator who
has the legal authority as designated by state law.
Who can perform the wedding ceremony and what the
processes are for obtaining certification to perform
a ceremony differ by state. Normally, an ordained
minister can perform a wedding ceremony at any location,
whether a chapel or outdoors, or a judge can perform
the wedding, often called a civil ceremony, at the
courthouse. Civil ceremonies will require an additional
fee. Some states allow for individuals to be deputized
to perform wedding ceremonies for the day of the
wedding, allowing you to have a close friend or relative
perform your ceremony.
How old do you have to be to be married?
In most states, the man and woman must be of the
legal age of 18 years old in order to be married;
however, some states allow for persons under the age
of 18 to be married with the consent of the parents
and the agreement of a judge. Even without the consent
of the parents, minors may be able to marry with a
court order. The legal requirement is usually that
even if they are under 18 years old, the man and woman
must have the required mental capacity to enter into
a binding marriage.