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Marriage Licenses: Know the Rules: Be Wise or Single!

Updated on October 6, 2015
You need a marriage license BEFORE you walk up the aisle...
You need a marriage license BEFORE you walk up the aisle...

The Truth About Marriage Licenses...

Everyone in the U.S. must have a marriage license in order to be legally married. In the U.S. about two-million people marry annually, so that's a lot of licenses and a lot of revenue.

So how do you go about getting a marriage license?

Marriage licenses are issued by the state, in the city, county, or town where the marriage will take place. So for accurate information, you need to contact the marriage license bureau in the city, county, or town where the marriage will take place.

NOTE: Have the marriage license bureau email you the requirements or fax them. You must have accurate information and states change their requirements frequently. If you're not being married for a year, for example, call a couple of weeks ahead to have current information faxed or emailed to you. Don't take chances with your marriage license.

This woman got the wrong info about her marriage license...
This woman got the wrong info about her marriage license...

Marriage License Savvy: Be Wise or Single...

I once had a client who was marrying in Florida. Her fiancé flew to Florida on Thursday after a business trip, so they could obtain their marriage license for their wedding on Saturday. There was a BIG problem. They didn't know that Florida required a three-day waiting period before marriage and their license was denied.

Fortunately for her, she had a high-powered relative in government who "fixed" the problem, but otherwise, she would have been single on her wedding day. Not good.


Know the rules BEFORE you apply for your marriage license.
Know the rules BEFORE you apply for your marriage license.

General Rules About Marriage Licenses...

1. Both the bride- and groom-to-be must apply in person for a marriage license.

2. Some marriage license bureaus may require cash as payment. (Check your payment options before proceeding.)

3. Some states require blood tests. Have these completed before applying for the license.

4. Most states require proof of divorce, death (if previously married), birth certificates and other legal forms of identification. You may be required to produce more than one.

5. Some states require waiting periods, which may be waived if the couple can prove that they completed premarital education.

6. States have different laws concerning witnesses and their number.

7. Out-of-state clergy may not be licensed to perform a wedding ceremony in the state where your wedding is taking place. Check with the marriage license bureau in the city, county, or town where you will be married.

8. If you plan two ceremonies, one in Florida, for example, and one in New Jersey, you will need to take a copy of your marriage license to the second ceremony.

9. If both ceremonies take place within the same state, or a civil and religious service is performed within the same state, the same rule applies.


Moral of the Marriage License Story...

ALWAYS check with the marriage license bureau in the city, county, or town where your wedding will take place for marriage license requirements, and check regularly.

Be informed to get married without delays or hassle!

P.S. Visit Deborah McCoy, AAWP: www.aa-wp.com

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