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How to Get Married in Minnesota - Planning a Wedding in The North Star State

Published Thursday, Sep. 8th, 2022

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


From the beauty of the great outdoors to hip urban centers, Minnesota offers romantic backdrops of every kind. And with a reputation as one of the best places to live or vacation in the US, it’s easy to see why ‘The Land of 10,000 Lakes’ is a top destination for weddings.


Applying for a marriage license in Minnesota 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 Minnesota, scroll down for helpful links.


Photo of Minneapolis bridge at sunset

Need a marriage license in Minneapolis, or elsewhere in Hennepin County?

Head to a local county service center.



How to get married in Minnesota 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 Minnesota.

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 and are at least 21 years old.




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 Minnesota:


Civil marriages may be solemnized throughout the state by an individual who has attained the age of 21 years and is a judge of a court of record, a retired judge of a court of record, a court administrator, a retired court administrator with the approval of the chief judge of the judicial district, a former court commissioner who is employed by the court system or is acting pursuant to an order of the chief judge of the commissioner's judicial district, the residential school superintendent of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, a licensed or ordained minister of any religious denomination… (§ 517.04)


(Find more Minnesota marriage laws here.)



A decorative wedding arch with leaves and white roses, placed in front of chairs and dark green evergreen trees for an outdoor wedding ceremony



3. Choose a date and a venue...

Minnesota is home to endless outdoor activities, several lively arts and music scenes, a welcoming LGBTQ+ community, ice hockey heroes, one-of-a-kind walleye sandwiches and hotdish delights, thriving cities like Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Duluth, and Rochester – and many more attractions that make 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
5 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 marriage license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through any government service center, including a County Recorder, Vital Records, DMV, or Government Center office. Nearly all MN counties provide information on purchasing a license on the MOMS (Minnesota Official Marriage System) online resource.


In some counties, you’ll need to start your application online before scheduling an in-person appointment. Once it’s issued, your license will be valid in any county in the state, and you don’t need to be a Minnesota resident to marry there.


Requirements to Apply:


  • All marriage license applicants must be 18 years of age or older – there are no exceptions for minor
  • Both parties must appear in person, or complete a notarized Party Not Appearing Form
  • Both parties must provide valid photo ID and proof of age (such as driver's license, state-issued identification card, passport, or certified birth certificate) 
  • Applicants with a felony conviction on or after August 1, 2000 who want to change their name are subject to a 30-day waiting period
  • Safe at Home participants can not use an online marriage application (such as the one available on the MOMS website)


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



Your license will cost about $115. A reduced fee of $40 is available to couples who complete the required hours of premarital education administered by a certified educator. Some offices do not accept debit or credit card payments, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the 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 marriage license


A Minnesota 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, two adult witnesses (over the age of 16 years old), and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the county office. (We’ll cover this more below.) 


The license must be filed by the wedding officiant within 5 days of the wedding ceremony. Instructions on how to file the license will be included in a packet issued to the applicants when they apply for the license.


A happy couple kiss in their wedding attire aboard a sailboat



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 within 5 days of the wedding ceremony. Check with your county for details.


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



Happy newlyweds smile while embracing against a backdrop of fall leaves



Asked to officiate a wedding in Minnesota? 


Visit Weddings by State: Minnesota 


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 unique cities in the state, including Minneapolis and Rochester.





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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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