GET ORDAINED

AMERICAN WEDDINGS BLOG

Stay up to date with the latest wedding ceremony trends, script writing inspiration, tips and advice for first-time officiants, and news that matters to couples and wedding ministers.

How to Get Married in Wisconsin - Planning a wedding in The Badger State

Published Tuesday, Jul. 12th, 2022


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

 

 


Wisconsin is world famous for cheese, beer, and folks who know how to have a good time – and it’s also a top destination for weddings! With picturesque farmland, rugged forests, and sparkling modern cities, this Midwest state offers romantic backdrops of every kind.

 

Applying for a marriage license in America’s Dairyland 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 Wisconsin, scroll down for helpful links.

 

 


Indoor wedding venue with close up on white flowers and the backs of wooden chairs lined up and waiting for the ceremony to begin

Wisconsin has hundreds of beautiful venues indoors and outdoors, year round.

 

 

How to get married in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.


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 Wisconsin:

 

Any ordained member of the clergy of any religious denomination or society; a licentiate of a denominational body; an appointee of any bishop serving as the regular member of the clergy; the 2 parties themselves, by mutual declarations that they take each other as husband and wife, in accordance with the customs, rules and regulations of any religious society, denomination or sect to which either of the parties may belong; various judges and commissioners.  (§ 765.16)

 

(Find more Wisconsin marriage laws here.)

 

 

Fall leaves and trees outdoors in a park like setting, with a wooden bridge

The colorful Fall season is a favorite time to marry in this Midwestern state

 


3. Choose a date and a venue...


Wisconsin is home to famous beer (Miller Brewing Company is located there), and even more famous cheese! It’s also home to thriving cities like Madison and Milwalkee, known for world class nightlife, restaurants, art, music, and more – 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. 

 

Related: Cheese Themed Wedding? These 3 Tips Make Planning a Brie’ze

 

 

 

Marriage License Quick Facts

6 Day Waiting Period*
30 Day Expiration Period**
3 Day Return Period

*Does not include the day the license is issued. A waiver may be available.
**Some counties allow couples to apply for their license up to 35 days before the ceremony, but most do not. 

 

 


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 County Clerk Office. Many counties require couples to schedule an appointment ahead of time. You don’t need to be a Wisconsin resident to marry there. Residents and non-residents can apply for and use a license in any county in the state. 

 

Requirements to Apply: 

 

  • Both parties to the marriage must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors
  • The couple must apply together in person
  • Both parties must provide valid photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport, and their social security number (if they have one) 
  • Provide a certified birth certificate (a passport may be used in lieu of birth record)
  • Both applicants must speak and be able to read English, or provide a translator for their appointment
  • Provide date and location of wedding ceremony
  • Provide wedding officiant’s name and contact information (address, phone number, and email address)
  • Provide proof of divorce / termination of previous marriage (if applicable)
  • In counties that allow or require virtual appointments, both parties must attend the appointment, but may be able to join from different locations (check with your county)

 

If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Wisconsin, we recommend contacting your local County Clerk Office to learn more. 


Cost 


Your license will cost about $110 - $120, and there may be an additional processing fee for credit / debit card transactions. There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.


Waiting period


There is 6 waiting period between the time your license is issued and when your ceremony can take place. This does not include the day the license is issued. A waiting period waiver may be available for an additional fee. 


Using and returning the license


A Wisconsin 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, two adult witnesses, and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the clerk’s office within 3 days of the wedding. (We’ll cover this more below.) 

 

The license must be returned within 3 days of the wedding ceremony.

 

 

A photo of downtown Madison, Wisconsin

Head to the Clerk's office in Madison to purchase a marriage license in Dane County, WI

 

 

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 you can't get married without it. 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, along with two adult witnesses. 

 

For tips on how to complete the license, head here. 

 

Once it’s signed, it must be returned to the clerk’s office and recorded within 3 days of the marriage ceremony. Check with your county for details.

 

Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married! 

 

 

Close up on a beautiful couple as they kiss on their wedding day

Congratulations! You're married! 

 

 

 

Do you want to perform a wedding in Wisconsin? 

 

Visit Weddings by State: Wisconsin.

 

We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need to officiate a wedding, and helpful tips for several cities in the state, including Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, and Milwaukee.

 

 

 

 


 

You might also like: 

 

 

 


 


Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves digging into the history and magic of ritual, exploring the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She’s an advocate for marriage equality and individuality. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys easy hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

How To Officiate By State

Who Will Officiate Your Wedding?

Choose Your Officiant with our "Will You Marry Us?" Gift Package.

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Our premiere package contains everyting you need to officiate like a pro.

Professional Wedding Officiant Certification Course

Learn from the Pros to Officiate with Confidence!

Wedding Officiant Training

Wedding Officiant Training

Everything you need to know to officiate.

Sample Wedding Ceremony Scripts

Need inspiration? Check out our free ceremony scripts!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

GET ORDAINED
WITH AMM

Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!