In all the fun of wedding planning, it can be easy to forget about the marriage license, even though it’s the most important piece of getting married. There are so many questions many couples have about marriage licenses, from where to get them and what’s all required. Here is everything you need to know about marriage licenses!
What is a marriage license?
A marriage license is what makes you legally married in the government’s eyes! As much fun as the wedding ceremony and reception are, they’re just a party if there is no marriage license, so it’s incredibly important that you don’t forget it!
Where can I get a marriage license?
The best place to get a marriage license is your local county clerk’s office or state’s court clerk. Find your local court here.
If you're getting married in a different county than where you live, you can still get your license from your home county. As long as the marriage license is obtained in the state in which you're getting married, it should not matter in which county you obtain it.
What do I need to bring?
While there are some variations of documentation requirements based on state, most states require the following:
When should I get a marriage license?
Most couples get their marriage license within a few weeks of their wedding day. If you can, schedule an appointment with your local clerk’s office. If your county clerk doesn’t do appointments, plan a day where you and your fiancé have a few hours to spare. If you don’t make an appointment, plan on waiting at the clerk’s office for 1-2 hours for your license. We also recommend you don’t go during lunch hour if you can help it!
Do marriage licenses expire?
Marriage licenses are usually good for at least 30 days (although a few states expire sooner). In Georgia, marriage licenses don’t expire.
How much do marriage licenses cost?
Cost varies from state to state (and sometimes even based on city). In Georgia, the cost of a marriage license is $56. If you provide to the court a Certificate of Completion for a Qualified Premarital Education Program, the fee goes down to $16. It also costs between $10 and $20 to received a certified copy.
Who signs the license?
Again, this will vary from state to state. In Georgia, the only signature required is the officiant. If the officiant does not complete the license, then you need two witnesses. In other states, licenses also require the bride and groom, plus two extra witnesses. Once the ceremony is over, make sure whoever needs to sign the license does to make sure you’re legally married!
What do I do with the license after the wedding?
Once the wedding is over, someone needs to return the license to the clerk’s office, whether by mail or walk-in. Traditionally, the officiant will take care of returning the license, but some couples prefer to do it themselves or have a family member take care of it. Make sure to discuss who will be returning the marriage license prior to your wedding.
We hope this gave you some direction on how to get your marriage license! Couples who found this helpful also read #MisstoMrs - How to Change Your Name After Marriage!
Read more of our wedding planning tips on our blog!