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Published: Thursday, Jul. 8th, 2021

How to Get Married in Texas - Planning a Wedding Ceremony in the Lone Star State

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Planning a Texas wedding? This short guide will help - from finding an officiant to completing the marriage license. 

 

 


If you’re planning a Texas wedding, you already know: Even love is bigger in Texas! 

 

Marriage laws in the Lone Star State vary from county to county, so it’s important to get a head start on the planning process to avoid unnecessary stress. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you begin. 

 

(If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding in Texas, scroll down for helpful links.)

 

 


1. Get yourself a sweetheart! 


Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.


 

2. Find a wedding officiant in Texas.


A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.

 

In Texas, a friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony, if they’ve been ordained. (Get ordained online for free with AMM.) 

 

If you want to hire a professional, there will be no shortage of qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are also authorized to solemnize marriage in Texas: a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest; a Jewish rabbi; an officer of a religious organization who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony; and various judges and justices. (Find a thorough list here.)

 


3. Choose a date and a venue...


Texas is home to some impressive historical sites, beaches, city parks, churches, and other scenic spots, making it a favorite for destination weddings. Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do, or a romantic elopement with a party of two -- -- there’s something for everyone!

 

Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and possibly a permit) to use a public space, such as a city park or recreational area. Permits can take weeks to process, so factor this into your timeline, too. 

 

 

Marriage License Quick Facts

72 Hour Waiting Period
90 Day Expiration Period
30 Day Return Period

 

 

 

4. The marriage license.

 
Alright, time to make sure your wedding’s legal! We’ll break down each part of the marriage license process, one step at a time: 


Applying for the license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the county clerk’s office.

Both parties must be present and provide proof of identity, such as an official birth certificate, state issued photo ID, or US passport. During COVID, many county offices are operating at reduced capacity by appointment only, or online, so plan ahead. 

 

Some county offices only issue marriage licenses to residents of that county (for example, Dallas County). Others have no residency requirements, but may have a higher application fee for out-of-state-residents.

 

If you’re planning a destination wedding anywhere in Texas, we recommend contacting the county clerk’s office closest to your venue to learn more. 

 


Cost


The cost of a license varies by county and residency, anywhere from $11 to $100 (and out-of-state couples may pay an additional $100 on top of the county's usual fee). Some counties will only accept cash so come prepared. (Austin's Travis County only takes cash, for example!) There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

 

Couples who choose to complete a premarital education and counseling course through the Twogether in Texas program can receive a $60 discount on their license.

 


Waiting period


Texas has a 72-hour waiting period between the time a marriage license is issued and when a ceremony can be held. This can be waived under special circumstances, including active-duty military status or completion of Twogether in Texas premarital counseling. To apply for a waiver, request a form from the county clerk. 

 


Using and returning the license


A Texas marriage license can be used in any county in the state but must be returned to the county in which it was issued. You can also use your Texas marriage license for a ceremony held in another state, as long as it’s recorded in the same county in which it was issued. 

 

You have 90 days from the day it’s issued to use your license. After 90 days, the license expires and a new one will be needed to marry.

 

In order to complete the license, it must be signed by each party to the marriage and your marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the county in which it was issued. (We’ll cover this more below.) There are no additional witness requirements in Texas.

 

You have 30 days to return and record the license following the ceremony.

 

 

image is a photograph of the exterior of the Travis County clerk's office. The building is rectangular, tan stone, with tall windows.   

The Travis County Courthouse in Austin. 

 


5. Meet with your wedding officiant...

 

Once you’ve chosen a date, a venue, and have your marriage license details worked out, you’ll be ready to meet with your wedding officiant to plan the ceremony! 

 

This is when things start to come into focus. You’ll 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 tagged for couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword. 

 

 

 

6. The wedding day! 


Aside from yourselves, the most important thing you’ll bring with you on the wedding day is your marriage license -- because no license, no marriage. Your officiant won’t be able to perform the wedding without having a license present (even if you have it at home), so make sure it’s with you. 

 

After the ceremony, you and your officiant will sign the license. For tips on how to complete the license, head here. Once it’s signed, you’ll have 30 days to record it with the county in which it was issued. Some counties require that it be returned in person, while others will accept a completed license by mail. 

 

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

 

And remember: Marriage laws change frequently, so always check with your local county clerk to verify dates, deadlines, and fees. 

 

 

image is a photograph of the brick building that contains the Bexar County Clerk's office

Paul Elizondo Tower, home of the Bexar County Clerk's Office in San Antonio. 

 

 

Are you officiating a wedding in Texas?

 

Visit our Weddings by State: Texas pages. 

 

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 Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Lubbock, San Antonio, Dallas, and more. 

 


 

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Looking for a step-by-step guide to planning a one of a kind wedding ceremony?

 

Order a copy of AMM Minister Officiant Amber's Navigating Your Wedding Ceremony for yourself or a newly engaged couple today! 

 

 

 


 

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