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State-by-state marriage waiting periods should be part of your wedding plan

Published Friday, Feb. 19th, 2021

Did you know that some states have a waiting period to marry? Plan ahead to avoid unexpected delays to your wedding ceremony. 


Couples dreaming of romantic elopements and spontaneous, no-fuss minimonies should keep in mind that some states require a ‘waiting period’ between issuing a marriage license and actually getting married. These waiting periods apply to virtual weddings, too. Depending on the state, to-be-weds may need to have their license issued anywhere from 24 hours to 8 full days in advance of their wedding! 


This is especially important as we move into the unpredictable (and very crowded) wedding season of 2021. It’s no secret that spontaneous elopements and other go-with-the-flow alternatives to traditional wedding ceremonies are trending this year, and dates are booking up fast.


Couples who chose to postpone their wedding at the start of the pandemic are now scrambling to get married, as restrictions for in-person gatherings and receptions loosen in some areas (looking at you, New York). Still others are rushing for different reasons, like vaccine availability, pandemic-fatigue, or sudden (and scarce) venue availability.



Hurry up and wait...


But couples looking for a quick wedding could find their last-minute plans thwarted if they don’t read their state’s fine print first. Thankfully, avoiding disappointment only takes a little planning ahead. 


Many states are currently allowing online marriage license applications, or a combination online and in-person application process. However, online applications may require additional processing time… so contact your local county or city marriage bureau and plan ahead no matter where you live!



Know in advance which states have marriage waiting periods! 


ALASKA: 3 Days

There is a 3-business-day waiting period that begins once a mailed or faxed application with payment is received by the issuing office. Applicants must wait at least 3 full business days after the application is submitted before the license is picked up and the marriage ceremony can be performed.




A marriage license must be obtained at least 24 hours prior to the wedding ceremony.



FLORIDA: 3 Days For Residents (None For Non-Residents)

All Florida residents have a mandatory 3-day waiting period before the marriage license becomes effective, or have the option of attending a 4-hour premarital course from a registered provider to waive the waiting period. 




By state law, there is a 1-day waiting period from when applicants obtain a marriage license to when the license is valid. In extraordinary circumstances, this waiting period can be waived. 



IOWA: 3 Days

There is a 3-business-day waiting period between application and receiving the license. 



KANSAS: 3 Days

There is a 3-business-day waiting period after the application is made:
Application made on Monday: the license will be issued the following Thursday
Application made on Tuesday: the license will be issued the following Friday
Application made on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday: the license will be issued the following Monday




There is a 24-hour waiting period between the time of issuance of the license and the ceremony. If there is a need for the ceremony to occur prior to the expiration of the 24-hour waiting period, the applicants may request a waiver, which must be signed by a district judge or justice of the peace authorized to perform the marriage.




The marriage license will be issued at the time of application. The license may not be used prior to the effective date, which is 6:00 a.m. on the second calendar date after issuance. 




There is a 3-day waiting period before applicants can pick up the marriage license after applying. In some cases, applicants can apply for a marriage without delay at the probate or district court in the town where you submitted your notice to waive this period.




There is a 3-day waiting period after applying before the license may be issued and used. 




There is a 72-hour waiting period after application before the license is issued. The waiting period begins when the application is filed with the Local Registrar. 




Applicants must wait a full 24 hours between when the license is issued and when the marriage ceremony can be performed, unless they obtain a Judicial Waiver.



OREGON: 3 Days

There is a 3-day waiting period from the day the license is issued until it can be used (completed at the ceremony). 




Pennsylvania law requires a 3-day waiting period between the date applicants apply for the license, and when it can be issued. 




A 24-hour waiting period is required between the time the application is completed and filed, and the time the license is issued.



TEXAS: 3 Days

Per Texas law, there is a 72-hour waiting period before the marriage ceremony may take place, with the following exceptions:
-If the applicants obtain a written waiver from a judge.
-If one of the applicants is an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States; the active-duty military person must show identification.
-If the applicants submit the premarital education course certificate form.
-If the applicants are remarrying each other.




Before any marriage license is issued, the application for such license shall be posted for public examination in the office of the clerk of the court for 8 days.




After issuing a marriage license, Washington state law requires a three-day waiting period before you can use it.




There is a 3-day waiting period following the date of application. This does not include the date of application, which means that the applicants should apply for the license at least 4 days prior to the date of the wedding.





Remember that marriage licenses also expire, and must also be filed within a set time after the ceremony.


The Marriage License Waiting Period, Expiration, and Return section of our officiant training pages will offer more details on using and returning your license on time, to make sure your wedding is legal and valid. 


And An Introduction to the Marriage License explores the basics of the license, for couples and new or first time wedding officiants, including what makes a license different from a marriage certificate, how much they cost, and how to fill one out correctly. 

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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