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How to Get Married in Montana - Planning a Wedding in Big Sky Country

Published Friday, Jun. 3rd, 2022

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




From rugged mountains to wide open skies and stunning skylines, Montana offers romantic backdrops of every kind. It’s easy to see why this Western gem has earned its reputation as a top destination for weddings! 


Applying for a marriage license in The Treasure 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. 


Asked to officiate a wedding in Montana?

Click here!




A rustic indoor wedding reception is set up with tables and chairs, ready for the party to begin

Montana has hundreds of cute wedding venues to choose from,

with something to suit every style.




How to get married in Montana in 6 Steps 


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 Montana.

A wedding officiant is someone who conducts a marriage ceremony and signs a marriage license. If you want to be married by an officiant in Montana, a friend or relative can perform (or solemnize) your wedding ceremony if they’ve been ordained.




However, Montana is one of the few states that doesn’t require an officiant to perform a couple’s marriage ceremony.


Couples can choose to marry without an officiant or a ceremony by filing a Declaration of Marriage with the Clerk of District Court office instead. (§ 40-1-311) This is a ‘self-uniting’ or ‘self solemnizing’ marriage. 


Learn more about filing a Declaration of Marriage on the Missoula County website. 


If you want to hire a professional officiant to solemnize your ceremony, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in Montana: 


Various judges; various public officials whose powers include solemnization of marriages; a justice of the peace; notary public authorized pursuant to 1-5-630; or in accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, Indian nation or tribe, or native group. (§ 40-1-301)


(Read a detailed list of authorized officiants and other Montana marriage laws here.)



An old building in Bannack State Park ghost town, in Montana, with hills, trees, and a blue sky in the background.

Want to get married in a ghost town? 
Head to Bannack State Park in Beaverhead County, Montana, for a one-of-a-kind wedding.


3. Choose a date and a venue...

Montana is home to stunning natural beauty and thriving art scenes, restaurants, and nightlife in cities like Billings, Missoula, Great Falls and Helena – 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
6 Month Expiration Period
30 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. All couples will need to follow a similar application process, even if they wish to file a Declaration of Marriage rather than have an officiant solemnize their ceremony. 


Applying for a marriage license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the Clerk of District Court. You don’t need to be a Montana resident to marry there. 


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Parties must complete a Marriage License Application using the online application portal before their appointment with the Clerk of Court
  • Provide birth information (city, county, state, country of birth)
  • Parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors 
  • Provide a social security number and valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Provide both parents’ first, middle, and last names, place of current residence, and birth state
  • Provide info and documentation on previous marriages and dissolutions / divorces


Montana is one of the few states to allow marriage by proxy for couples who cannot attend their ceremony in person and meet certain requirements. If you’re interested in having a single or double proxy wedding in Montana, contact your Clerk of Court to learn more. 


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



Filing a Declaration of Marriage


Couples must schedule an appointment with the Clerk of District Court office to file a Declaration of Marriage, and complete the online portion of the application process before arriving in person. 


Requirements to File: 


  • Schedule an appointment with the Clerk of Court 
  • Complete the application online before visiting the Clerk of Court office
  • Both parties must appear in person to sign and file the declaration 
  • 2 witnesses are required; Parties may bring their own witnesses or Clerk of Court staff may act as witnesses
  • The declaration must meet the state’s requirements, listed here
  • Provide proof of age, such as a driver's license or passport




Your marriage license will cost about $53. The cost of a Declaration of Marriage is the same as a license. Some offices may only accept credit cards or cash, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after a ceremony.

Waiting period

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

Using and returning the license

A Montana marriage license can be used in any county in the state, and expires  6 months after it’s issued. 



The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the Clerk of Court. (We’ll cover this more below.) 


The license must be returned within 30 days of your ceremony.



A long distance shot of Missoula, Montana, with the skyline and blue sky in the distance

Purchase a Missoula County marriage license from the Clerk of Court in downtown Missoula. 



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. 


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. 


After 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! 



Two newlywed brides kiss outdoors in the sunshine, both are wearing white wedding gowns and one bride holds a bouquet of flowers.




Do you want to perform a wedding in Montana? 


Visit Weddings by State: Montana.


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 Billings and Missoula.





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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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