Published: Tuesday, Apr. 19th, 2022
From bourbon to bluegrass, and natural beauty to city skylines, Kentucky offers romantic backdrops of every kind. It’s easy to see why this Southern state is a top destination for weddings.
Applying for a marriage license in the Bluegrass 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.
(If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding in Kentucky, scroll down for helpful links.)
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 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 Kentucky:
Ministers of the gospel or priests of any denomination in regular communion with any religious society; various judges and justices; and by consent of a religious society to which the parties are members, if that society has no officiating minister or clergy. (§ 402.050)
(Find a complete list of officiants and more Kentucky marriage laws here.)
Kentucky is home to top shelf bourbon, historic horse racing, a thriving music and restaurant scene, stunning national parks, and thriving cities like Louisville, Lexington, and Frankfort – 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 County Clerk office, and should complete the application worksheet available through the Clerk’s office before your appointment. If both parties to the marriage are at least18 years old, you can apply for your license in any county in the state, and you don’t need to be a Kentucky resident to marry there.
Requirements to Apply:
Both parties must appear before the County Clerk to apply
Both parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors
Both parties must provide personal details include race, occupation, number of previous marriages, place and date of birth, address, and date of scheduled marriage
Both parties must provide their parents’ names, including maiden names
Valid ID, such as a state ID or drivers license, passport, or original birth certificate
If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Kentucky, we recommend contacting the county clerk closest to your venue to learn more.
Your license will cost about $50. Some offices will only accept cash or in-state 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 Kentucky marriage license can be used in any county in the state if both parties are at least 18 years of age, and expires 30 days after it’s issued (including the day it’s issued).
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage, two adult witnesses, and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the county clerk. (We’ll cover this more below.)
The license must be returned before the end of the 30 day expiration period.
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.
For tips on how to complete the license, head here.
Once it’s signed, you must record it with the local county before the end of the 30 day expiration period. 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, and helpful tips for several cities in the state, including Lexington and Louisville.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!