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How to Get Married in Alabama in 4 Simple Steps

Published Tuesday, Sep. 27th, 2022


Want to get married in Alabama? This short guide will help.

 

 

From the Appalachian foothills to the Gulf coast, Alabama offers romantic backdrops of every kind. Add in a little Southern hospitality, world famous soul food, rich local history, and plenty of nightlife, and it’s easy to see why this southeastern state is a popular place to marry.

 

Wedding ceremonies are optional in Alabama, which means the process to wed looks different here than it does in neighboring states. You and your sweetheart will complete a Marriage Certificate form, sign it in the presence of a notary, and return it to the Probate Office. You won’t need to find a wedding officiant unless you'd like to have a wedding ceremony.

 

Here’s a closer look at each of these steps, along with tips on what to do if you’d like to have a wedding or marriage certificate signing party. 

 

 

Officiants: If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding or vow renewal ceremony in Alabama, scroll down for helpful links.

 

 

Aerial view of Birmingham, Alabama with blue skies

Beautiful Birmingham, in Shelby County, Alabama

 

 

How to get married in Alabama in 4 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. Complete & Print the Marriage Certificate form

 

Instead of applying for a marriage license, couples in Alabama must complete and file a Marriage Certificate form. 

 

This form can be found on the Alabama Public Health website, or by visiting your local Probate Court. 

 

After you’ve filled in the details, print the form so that you can take it to an Alabama notary to sign. (Probate Court clerks will not be able to serve as notaries.)


Requirements to Obtain a AL Marriage Certificate / License: 

 

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors 
  • Both parties must provide valid ID, such as a driver’s license, photo ID, or passport
  • Both parties must provide their social security number (if they have been issued one)
  • If either party was previously married, the date of each divorce or previous spouse’s death is required. If a party was divorced within the past 30 days, a certified copy of the final order may be required. 

 

Cost

 

Your marriage certificate will cost between $70 and $90, depending on the county where you apply. Some court offices will only accept certain kinds of payment, so plan ahead! 


We recommend you contact your local Probate Court for the most up to date details. 

 

 

 

Marriage License Quick Facts

No Waiting Period*
30 Expiration Period
30 Day Return Period** 

*In some circumstances, a waiting period is required to remarry following a divorce 
**The couple has 30 days to return the notarized marriage certificate, counted from the date of the second spouse’s signature

 

 

 

A groom and bride stand outside embracing during their wedding ceremony

 

 

3. Find a Notary to Notarize Your Marriage Certificate 

 

You and your sweetheart will sign the marriage certificate in the presence of a notary public authorized in the State of Alabama. You don’t have to sign the certificate at the same time, and electronic signatures are not accepted. Note that some notaries may also be ordained to serve as wedding officiants, if you'd like to have a ceremony. (We cover this more below.)

 

Once the certificate is signed by both parties and the notary, you’ll have 30 days to return it to the Probate Court. 

 


4. Return Your Marriage Certificate to the Probate Court

 

Your completed, notarized form should be returned to the Probate Court within 30 days of the second spouse’s signature. Forms can be returned by mail, but must be received and recorded within this 30 day window. You can return the certificate with any Probate Court in the state. 

 

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

 

 

 

A bohemian style wedding ceremony set up outdoors, with a wooden marriage arch in the shape of a triangle, decorative light bulbs, and a table set up with food waiting for guests to arrive

 

 

Tips for planning a wedding or signing ceremony in Alabama

 

  • Plan a wedding, vow renewal, or sequel ceremony 

 

Make it special! Although wedding ceremonies aren’t required in Alabama, many couples still choose to have one. Some experienced wedding officiants (including many ordained AMM Ministers) are also authorized notaries, making them a great choice for your ceremony.

 

Some couples choose to hold a wedding ceremony for friends and family to attend after their paperwork is filed with the Probate Court. This type of celebration is sometimes called a ‘sequel wedding’ or vow renewal. These sweet ceremonies can look and feel just like a traditional wedding. 

 

To make your ceremony even more special, ask a friend or family member to officiate.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

(a) Generally. Marriages may be solemnized by any licensed minister of the gospel in regular communion with the Christian church or society of which the minister is a member; by an active or retired judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, any circuit court, or any district court within this state; by a judge of any federal court; or by an active or retired judge of probate. (b) Pastor of religious society; clerk of society to maintain register of marriages; register, etc., deemed presumptive evidence of fact. Marriage may also be solemnized by the pastor of any religious society according to the rules ordained or custom established by such society. The clerk or keeper of the minutes of each society shall keep a register and enter therein a particular account of all marriages solemnized by the society, which register, or a sworn copy thereof, is presumptive evidence of the fact. (c) Quakers, Mennonites, or other religious societies… having similar rules or regulations, may solemnize marriage according to their forms by consent of the parties, published and declared before the congregation assembled for public worship... ( § 30-1-7)

 

(Find more Alabama marriage laws here.)

 


Wedding decorations, bottles hanging from twine filled with flowers in soft sunlight

 

 

Meet with your wedding officiant…

 

Meet with your officiant at least once before the big day to 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. 

 

 

 

  • Plan a marriage certificate ‘signing ceremony’...

 

A simple ‘signing ceremony’ is a great way to make your marriage celebration feel special without planning a full size wedding. Ask friends and family members to join you while you sign the certificate with your notary, or consider one of these unique options: 

 

 

 

a happy couple celebrates a wedding on the beach, the groom kisses the bride's hand

Congratulations!

 

 

Do you want to officiate weddings in Alabama? 

 

Visit Weddings by State: Alabama

 

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 Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa.

 

 


 

You might also like: 

 

 

 

 

 

A young couple are married outdoors in a gazebo by a friend serving as their wedding officiant

Wedding Officiants still serve an important role in Alabama despite changes to the state’s solemnization and marriage laws. Learn more: Alabama Wedding Officiants are Still a Vital Part of the Marriage Process

 


 


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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