The most important part of a wedding is the signing of the official marriage license. This document legally binds you together and plays a big role if your plan is to change your name.
Getting married involves several steps. Obtaining a marriage license is one step in the process, and a very essential one too.
The focus of this article is an overview of how to fill out a marriage certificate. Once you’ve obtained a marriage license, the next step is to obtain a marriage certificate.
At this point, you might be wondering what the difference is between the two?
The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. A marriage license comes before a marriage certificate in the process of getting married.
A marriage license, in a nutshell, is an application to get married. It is a legal document needed prior to marriage.
Whilst they’re vital in the process of getting married, there isn’t anything romantic-looking about a county form.
Once you’ve both filled out your marriage certificate, had the ceremony, had it signed and the officiant has turned to the county, you’ll receive your marriage certificate.
We’ll break down each of the steps needed to obtain and complete your marriage license and certificate in this article.
So read on and let’s get stuck into all things’ marriage license and certificate!
Step One: Organize A Date And Place For Your Big Day
This is the logical first step in planning a wedding. You’ll need to have the date and place of your wedding set before making an application for a marriage license.
This is because you’ll need to file the marriage license application in the county you’re planning on being married in.
So, if you plan on getting married out of State, you’ll have to bear this in mind when applying for your license.
Another aspect to consider is the fact that marriage licenses have an expiry date. For example, some expire after only 90 days.
Say you’re planning to get married one year in advance of your chosen date, you’ll have to apply for a license within the expiry date.
Step Two: Plan A Visit To The County Clerk’s Office
Once you’ve established when and where you’re getting married, you should plan a visit to the county clerk. The county clerk’s office is the best place to get your marriage license.
You should expect the visit to last about an hour, if all the documentation is correct.
There are some key pieces of information you’ll need to take with you on your visit to the county clerk, we’ve listed the most important pieces below:
Proof Of Identity
Both of you will need to show proof of your identity. There are specific requirements dependent on the state, so it’s worth checking with the clerk before you arrive.
Usually, you’ll need a driver’s license or passport, you might also need to show your birth certificate.
It’s worth noting that some states require a witness for a marriage license application, so it’s worth asking a family member or friend (they’ll need to have known you both for at least six months) to come with you.
Information About Your Parents
Both parties will need to bring some information about their parents. This includes your parent’s full birth names, birth states, birthdays, and dates of passing (if applicable).
Certificate Of Divorce Or Death Certificate (If Applicable)
If this isn’t your first marriage, you will need to take your certificate of divorce or the death certificate (respectively). This acts as proof that you’re legally eligible to remarry.
Fees For The Marriage License
It is easy to forget that there is often a fee involved in applying for a marriage license. This can range from between $35 to $150 and is usually paid in cash or check.
Step Three: Get Signatures
Once you’ve obtained your marriage license, you’ll need to gather some signatures from various people.
The requirements for signing a marriage certificate can vary dependent on the state you’re in, but you’ll usually need the following people’s signatures:
This almost feels like stating the obvious. This will need to be done post-ceremony, and as such it’s better to get it done before the celebrations begin, as this is one detail you cannot forget.
The individual who performed the ceremony must also sign the license. Whether they are a religious leader, a judge, or someone ordained for the day, there will be a line on the license to sign their name and state their ordination or title.
Typically, states require two witnesses to the marriage, but some states only require one.
The witnesses could be your parents, best man or maid of honor, or any close friends you nominate. In most cases, marriage license witnesses need to be over the age of eighteen.
Step Four: Turning In The Completed Marriage Certificate
It’s the officiant’s duty to return the completed marriage license to the county clerk, this can be done either in person or by mail.
Once the county clerk has confirmed receipt of the completed marriage certificate, you’re officially married!
You’ll either receive a copy of the official marriage certificate by mail or have to go in person to collect it, this can depend on where you live.
It is worth getting multiple copies of your marriage certificate. Whilst this might set you back a few hundred bucks ordering copies from the county clerk’s office, it will save you a lot of hassle in the future.
It’s worth getting about three certified copies of your marriage certificate, as you’ll need it for a number of things.
For example, you’ll need to send proof of your new marital status when applying for car/health insurance, social security (if you’re planning on changing your name), credit cards, bank accounts, and so on.