Everything You Need to Know for Your Marriage License

Navigating the path to marriage often begins with one of the most pivotal steps in wedding planning: obtaining a marriage license. This essential document not only legalizes your union but symbolizes the start of your lifelong journey together. Whether you're tying the knot in a grand ceremony or opting for a more intimate celebration, understanding the ins and outs of the marriage license process is crucial. From knowing when to apply to ensuring you have all the necessary documentation, this guide aims to simplify the process, making it a memorable part of your wedding planning journey. Let's delve into the details of how to seamlessly integrate this legal requirement into your wedding plans, ensuring that your focus remains on the joy and love that brought you together in the first place.
Table of Contents
  1. Intro

Navigating the path to marriage often begins with one of the most pivotal steps in wedding planning: obtaining a marriage license. This essential document not only legalizes your union but symbolizes the start of your lifelong journey together. Whether you're tying the knot in a grand ceremony or opting for a more intimate celebration, understanding the ins and outs of the marriage license process is crucial. From knowing when to apply to ensuring you have all the necessary documentation, this guide aims to simplify the process, making it a memorable part of your wedding planning journey. Let's delve into the details of how to seamlessly integrate this legal requirement into your wedding plans, ensuring that your focus remains on the joy and love that brought you together in the first place.

When Do You Apply for a Marriage License

When you have a wedding date and a location, call the local county clerk, and add their window into your calendar: It is important to connect with the county clerk’s office located where you’re’ getting married - not where you live - to learn exactly when you should apply for a marriage license. It’s likely that you can plan on filing as early as 90 days ahead of your wedding up until 1 week before your wedding. We often see couples navigate this confusing challenge. For example, one of our couples got a marriage license in LA but want it to be signed for their wedding in Miami. If that couple wanted the official date on their marriage license to be the same as their wedding ceremony date, they’d need to get a license in the county of their wedding ceremony. That said, if they didn’t care about the date on their actual license, then they could sign the license when they return from their wedding in LA (so long as it’s within the correct time window). As for how long before the wedding to apply for a marriage license - each county clerk’s office has and will share their own specific window. Sometimes, counties additionally require a waiting period; the counties may require a couple to wait 72 hours after they apply for the license but before getting married in order to make the marriage legal. There could also be an expiration date, meaning you have to get married within a certain number of days (e.g. 90 days) from when you apply for the license until you get married, or else you’ll have to apply again.

What to Bring When Applying for Your Marriage License

Call the local county clerk’s office of wherever you’re getting married to confirm, but you’ll likely need proper forms of identification including photo ID (e.g. driver’s license, passport, state ID card, or military ID), proof of age (birth certificate), your social security number, both of your parents’ full birth names, birth dates and birth states, and your proof of residence and/or citizenship. Additional information could include divorce decree (if either of you were divorced), a death certificate (if either of you were widowed), and the date of a parent’s passing (if either of you have a parent that is deceased). You’ll also need a method of payment, so check to see if you’ll need cash, debit card, credit card, check or a money order (and for how much).

What Do You Do After You Apply for Your Marriage License

/Planning:

Pickup: If you’re picking it up in-person, confirm where and when. If it’s a destination wedding and you applied in the destination’s local county, make sure you book your flights (and your officiant books their flights) accordingly so you have time to pick it up and your officiant has time to drop it off.

Bringing it to the venue: Decide who’s responsible for bringing the license to the ceremony venue and make sure that person a) receives the license b) understands their important role

Signing: Decide who will be your witness(es), and where and when you all will sign it (coordinate with your photographer and wedding planner if you have them)!

Keeping it safe: Make sure your officiant keeps it in a safe place so it goes home with them. If they’re a friend or family member, this means they need to transport it from the ceremony venue to the party, and then back with them!

Dropping it off: Confirm your officiant is able to drop it off at the necessary location and within the time window as shared by the county clerk.

How Can You Make The Process Actually Feel Special

While filling out the marriage license can feel very official and less special, there are ways to infuse meaning into every part of the wedding planning process.

1. Craft a personalized ceremony: This doesn’t have to feel like a sterile, legal preceding. When signing a marriage license, you can often still have a representative at the clerk’s office (or an ordained friend, witnessed by clerk officials) solemnize your union with a speech and a custom ceremony. Some couples choose to do a ‘mini-ceremony’ at the courthouse or clerk’s office with their marriage license in hand in addition to a larger wedding celebration with friends and family. Others elect to elope or have a smaller wedding, in which case the legal proceeding may be the main event!In any case, use Provenance’s Ceremony Builder to create a ceremony right for you.

2. A Morning of Intention: Start the day with intention and mindfulness. Take a few moments to simply be present with each other. This quiet time will set the tone for the day ahead, infusing it with love and meaning.

3. Love Notes Exchange: Begin the day by writing heartfelt love notes to each other. Express your excitement, hopes, and dreams for your future together. Exchange these notes before heading to the courthouse or wherever you’re applying for your marriage license. This small gesture will fill the day with love and anticipation. If you plan to do this for your actual wedding, you can make this one different by having a more specific prompt e.g. “write how you’re feeling today in the form of a haiku” or “how are you feeling right now in 4 lines that rhyme.”

4. Incorporate a person you wish could be at your ceremony: If someone passed away and you want to make their presence felt throughout your wedding planning process, you can consider bringing a photo of them or wearing something of theirs (like a piece of jewelry or clothing).

5. Creating a Unity Ritual: Consider incorporating a unity ritual to symbolize your commitment on this day. Lighting a candle together, planting a tree, or exchanging small tokens can represent your union. This ritual will hold a special place in your hearts as a beautiful prelude to your wedding ceremony. You can find a wide variety of Unity Rituals (among 900 other readings and rituals within the Provenance Ceremony builder at Provenance.co.

6. Symbolic Souvenirs: Consider obtaining a small symbolic item on the day you apply for your marriage license. It could be as simple as a pen from the county clerk’s office, or even the coffee cup from your way there.

7. Romantic Evening Thinking About Your Vows: End the day with a romantic evening together. Cook a special meal together or order your favorite takeout. Share a bottle of champagne or your preferred drink, toasting to the love and commitment you’ve affirmed by applying for your marriage license. Take a moment to start thinking about what you want to share with your partner on your big day and separately write down your thoughts in the Vow Builder on Provenance.co. You’ll feel connected reflecting on your love story, and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re getting a head start and minimizing stress for a task still left on the to-do list.

As you step closer to saying "I do," remember that the journey to obtain your marriage license is more than just a formality; it's a foundational step in building your future together. By following these guidelines and embracing the process with open hearts and minds, you can transform what might seem like a bureaucratic necessity into a cherished memory of your wedding journey. Whether it's through personalized ceremonies, intentional moments of connection, or symbolic gestures of unity, the path to obtaining your marriage license offers a unique opportunity to celebrate your love and commitment.

Navigating the path to marriage often begins with one of the most pivotal steps in wedding planning: obtaining a marriage license. This essential document not only legalizes your union but symbolizes the start of your lifelong journey together. Whether you're tying the knot in a grand ceremony or opting for a more intimate celebration, understanding the ins and outs of the marriage license process is crucial. From knowing when to apply to ensuring you have all the necessary documentation, this guide aims to simplify the process, making it a memorable part of your wedding planning journey. Let's delve into the details of how to seamlessly integrate this legal requirement into your wedding plans, ensuring that your focus remains on the joy and love that brought you together in the first place.
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