Published: Thursday, Apr. 15th, 2021
Under specific circumstances, commercial wedding chapels in Nevada are allowed to issue marriage licenses, and couples can apply for a license almost any time of day or night, making it even easier to get married in a state known for spontaneous ceremonies.
But proposed legislation in the Nevada Assembly might change that. If passed, Nevada Assembly Bill No. 397 would repeal N.R.S. 122.0615, the statute that currently makes these special cases possible for commercial wedding chapels.
The bill would also repeal the sections outlining the required hours of operation for offices issuing licenses. Currently, counties with a population between 100,000 and 700,000 must have an office issuing licenses open to the public from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and commercial wedding chapels can issue licenses when other offices are closed.
N.R.S. 122.0615 states (in part) :
1. In each county whose population is 100,000 or more but less than 700,000, in which a commercial wedding chapel has been in business for 5 years or more, the board of county commissioners shall:
(a) Ensure that an office where marriage licenses may be issued is open to the public for the purpose of issuing such licenses from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day, including holidays; or
(b) Provide for the establishment of a program whereby a commercial wedding chapel that has been in business in the county for 5 years or more is authorized to issue marriage licenses to qualified applicants during the hours when an office where marriage licenses may be issued pursuant to paragraph (a) is not open to the public.
2. In each county whose population is less than 100,000, in which a commercial wedding chapel has been in business in the county for 5 years or more, the board of county commissioners may provide for the establishment of a program whereby a commercial wedding chapel that has been in business in the county for 5 years or more is authorized to issue marriage licenses to qualified applicants during the hours when an office where marriage licenses may be issued is not open to the public.
The statute continues, asserting that the state “shall provide to the commercial wedding chapel, without charge, any materials necessary for the commercial wedding chapel to issue marriage licenses. The number of marriage licenses that the commercial wedding chapel may issue must not be limited.”
The current law also ensures that any fees collected by the commercial chapel for licenses are sent directly to the county clerk (and are not kept by the chapel).
Changing the availability of wedding licenses -- either by reducing the hours they’re available to the public, or by reducing the number of places couples can apply for one -- would impact couples, wedding officiants, and venues, and we’re interested to see what happens with this proposed legislation.
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