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What is a Marriage Certificate? (And How to Fill One Out)

Published Monday, May. 24th, 2021

Illustration by Jessica Levey

Commemorate a friend’s new marriage with a decorative marriage certificate!


(Hey! Looking for instructions on filling out a marriage license -- the legally binding paperwork an officiant needs to sign after performing a ceremony? We’ve got you! Head to our Wedding Officiant Training pages: How To Fill Out a Marriage License.)


Marriage licenses are very important, but let’s face it: There’s nothing especially romantic-looking about a county form, and couples aren’t allowed to keep them anyway. 


That’s where the marriage license’s artistic sibling -- the marriage certificate -- comes in! 

Ceremonial marriage certificates are decorative keepsakes that couples can frame and display on a wall in their home, or place in a wedding album next to photos of friends and family. Sometimes called wedding certificates, they come in hundreds of styles, from offbeat and quirky to stylish and sophisticated, so there’s a design to suit every taste and every couple. 


They also make a perfect gift for an officiant to give their couple.


If you’ve just performed a wedding for friends or loved ones, or for a couple as a professional wedding officiant for hire, consider giving them a sweet momento to cherish for years to come and show them that you loved being their wedding officiant! 


(And as an added bonus… Every time they gaze lovingly at their certificate, thinking of their wedding day, they’ll also think about you -- and what a topnotch job you did marrying them. Hooray!)


If you want to give the certificate as a surprise, we recommend ordering it with plenty of time left before the ceremony, so that you have it in hand and already filled out the day of the wedding. This way, you can present it to the couple right after the recession. 


(We have several beautiful designs to choose from in our store, btw!) 


Filling out a marriage certificate is far more straightforward than completing a marriage license, and there’s less pressure because it’s not a legal document. Still, you’ll want to avoid crossing things out and scribbling over others! 


To keep things looking as sharp as possible, here’s a look at a sample marriage certificate (filled out by our very own Minister AMM BOT!) to use as a guide -- including what to write down as your title, how to include the couple’s names, and how to correctly format the date of the wedding. 


image is an illustration of the parts of a wedding certificate with instructions on how to fill one out for wedding officiants



A. Couple’s names: The most popular and formal option is to write the couple’s full names. In this case, you would use any maiden names. You may opt to write only their first names in this space, though this is the less formal choice. 


B. Include your name: You were an important part of this ceremony, so include yourself in the memory! Because this is not a legal document, you can write your first name only, your first and last name, or a formal title (Minister, Pastor, Reverend, Priestess, etc.) and your full name. How casual or formal you are here will depend on how close you are with the couple, and your comfort level with using a title.


C. How to write the date: If you have nice penmanship, write out the date longform, as it’s done here. We recommend capitalizing the words to make it look more stylish. If your handwriting can only be deciphered by a code breaker, on the other hand, stick with the numerical date option. We recommend you don’t abbreviate the month or year. 


D. Include the location: In this space, write the name of the wedding venue. If the wedding took place in a family member’s backyard at a friend’s house, keep the description simple, such as “at : Their Family Home,” or “at: A Gathering of Friends.”


E. Witnesses: If there were witnesses to the union, you can include their names here. Again, consider how well you know the couple when deciding whether to include the witnesses’ full names, or stick with just first names. 




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