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How to Get Married in Missouri - Planning a Wedding in the Show-Me State

Published Thursday, Apr. 28th, 2022

Planning a Missouri wedding? This short guide will help -- from finding an officiant to completing the marriage license. 




From the Gateway Arch to the Ozarks, Missouri offers romantic backdrops of every kind. And considering the state’s love of food, music, and family, it’s easy to see why this Midwestern destination is a top choice for weddings. 


Applying for a marriage license in the Show-Me 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 Missouri, scroll down for helpful links.



Grand Falls in Missouri

Beautiful Grand Falls in Joplin, MO, a city in Jasper and Newton counties


1. Get yourself a sweetheart! 

Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.


2. Find a wedding officiant in Missouri.

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 Missouri:


Any active or retired clergyman who is in good standing with any church or synagogue in this state; by any judge; by a religious society, institution, or organization of this state, according to their regulations and customs, when either party to the marriage to be solemnized is a member of such society, institution or organization. (§ 451.100)


(Find more Missouri marriage laws here.)



A beautiful outdoor table and chairs arranged for a wedding with trees in the background

Indoor or outdoor, Missouri has incredible wedding venues for every taste and style! 


3. Choose a date and a venue...

Missouri is home to the Pony Express, the best barbeque, epic architecture and acres of rich farmland, not to mention all the fun to be had in thriving cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield – 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. 



Marriage License Quick Facts

No Waiting Period
30 Day Expiration Period
15 Day Return Period 




4. The marriage license. 

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: 

Applying for your license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the Recorder of Deeds (Recorder's Office). Some counties require you to begin your application online by visiting the county website, and you may need to make an appointment for your visit. 


Couples can apply for a license 3-6 months in advance of their wedding day, but will not be issued a license until 30 days before the ceremony. You don’t need to be a Missouri resident to marry there.


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Both parties must appear in person before the Recorder of Deeds or a Deputy Recorder
  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors
  • Both parties must provide valid ID, such as a state ID or driver's license, passport, military ID, or government ID card 
  • Some counties require the social security number of each party
  • Some counties require the name and phone number of your wedding officiant at the time of your application
  • Previously married parties must be divorced for at least 30 days before applying


If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Missouri, we recommend contacting the county clerk closest to your venue to learn more. 


The cost of your marriage license will vary by county, from around $48 to $62. Some offices will only accept cash or credit card (with an additional small fee), so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

Waiting period

There is no waiting period between the time your license is issued and when your ceremony can take place.

Using and returning the license

A Missouri marriage license can be used in any county in the state, and expires 30 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 marriage officiant to the  Recorder of Deeds Office. (We’ll cover this more below.) 


The license must be returned within 15 days of the wedding ceremony.



A happy bride and groom dance in a beautifully decorated wedding tent at night

Remember: Your marriage license must be returned within 15 days of your ceremony



5. Meet with your wedding officiant...

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. 



The Arch in St Louis Missouri at night, surrounded by city buildings with glowing lights

The stunning Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri


6. The wedding day! 

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! 




A happy married couple at their wedding reception

Congratulations! You're married! 




Asked to perform a wedding in Missouri?


Visit Weddings by State: Missouri. 


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 Columbia, Independence, Kansas City, Springfield, and St Louis.





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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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