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.

Signing a Marriage License During the Wedding Ceremony - Tips for Officiants & Couples

Published Wednesday, Dec. 20th, 2023

Este articulo en español

A groom leans over a table during the wedding ceremony to sign the marriage license. In the background, the bride watches, along with friends and family members
Photo: FG Trade / iStock

Sign your marriage license during the wedding: Less stress, a seamless exit, and a unique twist on the unity ceremony


Listen now: 

AMM Audio Articles · Signing a Marriage License During the Wedding Ceremony - Tips for Officiants & Couples




In the movies, newlyweds leave their wedding ceremony in a rush of cheers and confetti, waving goodbye as they burst through the church doors and skip down the steps together.


Leer en Español: Firmando una Licencia de Matrimonio Durante la Ceremonia de Boda- Consejos para Oficiantes y Parejas


But in the real world, a quick and seamless exit can be much harder to pull off, because the wedding officiant (and any required witnesses) must sign the marriage license after the ceremony to make things legal. This extra step can create unnecessary delays between the ceremony and the reception, adding to a couple’s stress as they try to round up the necessary people.


That’s why including the license signing during the wedding itself is such a popular and practical option! 


If the license has already been signed as part of the ceremony, the couple can head straight to the reception without worrying about legal details, and the officiant is free to leave at any point once the ceremony is over. 


Quick, seamless, and stress-free!



Two grooms sit at a small table signing their marriage license during the wedding unity ceremony. Behind them, two attendants in pink dresses watch and smile, one of them is holding a young flower girl

Photo: SolStock / iStock


Unique unity ceremony idea


Signing the license during the wedding is also a great alternative to traditional unity ceremony choices, like a candle lighting or sand pouring ceremony. 


It allows friends and relatives to witness this special moment as a community, and makes the activity feel like a highlight of the day, instead of like an afterthought or unromantic technicality. 


And if witness signatures are required, couples can ask a friend, parent, or close relative to stand up front with them to complete the signing – creating a new opportunity to involve loved ones in the wedding ceremony.


Then, follow the signing ceremony with a kiss or a wine toast! This is sure to be met with happy cheers and clapping, and makes for a great photo, too.


Sounds delightful, right? 



Tips for signing a marriage license during the wedding


  • Place a small table off to the side of the ceremony space that you can use to sign the paperwork, and make sure that your guests will have a good view of the action! 


  • Decorate the table with special objects that symbolize your love. You might add framed photos of ancestors, trinkets from your favorite vacations together, flowers and crystals, or glasses of bubbly for a toast.


  • Bring a black ink pen and the marriage license


Related: Don’t get the minister blues… bet on black (ink)




  • Know who’s in charge of returning and filing the license after it’s signed, and the deadline for returning it (called the ‘return period’). In some states, this will be the couple; in other states, it will be the officiant. Ask the clerk who issues your license for this important information.



You might also like: 



Two friends embrace on the wedding day, the bride and her wedding officiant friend

You've already met the perfect officiant - ask a friend to officiate! Read the full article here. 



Love it? Pin it! 




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.

How To Officiate By State

Will You Marry Us? Gift Package

Who Will Officiate Your Wedding?

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

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

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

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

It's finally here! Timeless scripts and heartfelt vow inspiration to bring life to your ceremony.

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.

Read our sample wedding ceremony scripts online

Sample Wedding Ceremony Scripts

Need inspiration? Check out our free ceremony scripts!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!


Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!