Published: Friday, Apr. 15th, 2022
From the Badlands to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota offers romantic backdrops of every kind. And considering the state’s welcoming cities, arts and entertainment, and rich cultural history, it's easy to see why this Great Plains state is a top destination for weddings.
Applying for a marriage license in South Dakota State will look different in each county, so it’s important to get a head start on the planning process to avoid unnecessary stress. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you begin.
For a Minnehaha County marriage license, head to the Sioux Falls Register of Deeds.
Then have a cute elopement by the river!
Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.
A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.
A friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony in SD, if they’ve been ordained.
If you want to hire a professional, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in South Dakota:
Marriage may be solemnized by a justice of the Supreme Court, a judge of the circuit court, a magistrate, a mayor, either within or without the corporate limits of the municipality from which the mayor was elected, or any person authorized by a church to solemnize marriages. (§ 25-1-30)
Couples in Pennington County can head to Rapid City to apply for their license.
You might want to begin the application online!
South Dakota is home to tourist favorites like Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Wind Cave, and thriving cities like Sioux Falls, Rapid Falls, and Aberdeen, making it a favorite for destination weddings. Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do or a romantic elopement for two -- there’s something for everyone!
Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and a permit) to use a public space, such as a city park or recreational area. Permits can take weeks to process, so factor this into your timeline, too.
Alright, time to make sure your wedding’s legal! We’ll break down each part of the marriage license process, one step at a time:
You’ll apply for your marriage license through the Register of Deeds office, and may want to begin the application worksheet online before your appointment. You don’t need to be a South Dakota resident to marry there.
Requirements to Apply:
Both parties appear in person to apply
Both parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors
Both parties must provide valid photo ID, such as a driver's license, state ID, military ID, or tribal photo ID
You may be asked to show a certified copy of your birth certificate
No blood test is required
If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in South Dakota, we recommend contacting the Register of Deeds office closest to your venue to learn more.
Your license will cost about $40. Some counties only accept cash and traveler’s checks, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.
There is no waiting period between the time you receive your license and when your ceremony can take place.
A South Dakota marriage license can be used in any county in the state, and expires 90 days after it’s issued.
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the Register of Deeds office. (We’ll cover this more below.)
The license must be returned within 10 days of the ceremony.
The Badlands make a stunning, one-of-a-kind backdrop for outdoor weddings.
Once you’ve chosen a date, a venue, and have your marriage license details worked out, you’ll be ready to meet with your wedding officiant to plan the ceremony!
This is when things start to come into focus. You’ll talk about the tone of your ceremony, the ‘vibe’ you want to create for your guests, and any special elements and unity rituals you want to include. You and your officiant might meet a few more times to exchange more ideas, fine-tune a script, or rehearse the ceremony leading up to the wedding day.
AMM’s website is full of resources to help you decide what kind of ceremony you want, tips on working well with your officiant, and advice on keeping your ceremony authentic and on budget.
Visit Articles for Couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword.
Aside from yourselves, the most important thing you’ll bring with you on the wedding day is your marriage license -- because no license means no marriage. Your officiant won’t be able to perform the wedding without having a license present (even if you have it at home), so make sure it’s with you.
After the ceremony, you and your officiant will sign the license.
Once it’s signed, your officiant must return it with the Register of Deeds office within 10 days of the ceremony for the marriage to be valid. Check with your county for details.
Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married!
We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!