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How to Get Married in Ohio - Planning a wedding in the Buckeye State

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 27th, 2021


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

 

 


From rugged valleys to breathtaking lake shores, iconic corn fields to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio offers a variety of unique and all-American experiences. And with just as many cultural attractions as natural marvels, it's easy to see why Ohio remains a popular destination for weddings.  

 

Applying for a marriage license in the Buckeye State will look different in each 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 Ohio, 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 Ohio.


A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your wedding and signs the marriage license, making things legal. In Ohio, 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, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in Ohio: An ordained or licensed minister of any religious society or congregation within the state who is licensed to solemnize marriages, various judges, most mayors, the superintendent of the state school for the Deaf, or any religious society in conformity with the rules of its church. (For a precise list, visit Ohio marriage laws here.)

 

 

3. Choose a date and a venue...


Ohio is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a massive meteor crater, rugged forests and caves, gorgeous lake views, and bustling metros like Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, making it a favorite for destination weddings. Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do or a romantic elopement for two -- -- there’s something for everyone!

 

Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and 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

No Waiting Period
60 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 your license

 

You’ll apply for your marriage license through your local Probate Court office. If you or your spouse-to-be are an Ohio resident, you can apply for and use a marriage license in any county in the state. If neither of you reside in Ohio, you’ll need to apply for a license in the county where your venue is located. 

 

In some counties, couples are required to pre-register for their marriage license online (as in Cuyahoga County), and may be allowed to book appointments over Zoom, but this will vary by county. 

 

Both parties must appear in person before the clerk and show a government-issued photo ID (for example a driver's license, state ID, passport, or visa, etc.) when applying. Some officies may see couples in person by appointment only. 

 

If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Ohio, we recommend contacting the probate court office closest to your venue to learn more. 

 


Cost 


The cost of a license varies by county, ranging from about $50 to $90. Some counties only take credit or debit cards, others only take cash, and most will refuse checks -- so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

 


Waiting period


Ohio has no waiting period between the time an application is filed and when a marriage license is issued or can be used. 

 

 

This is a photograph of the outside of the Cuyahoga County Probate Courthouse in Cleveland Ohio, taken from across the street. The building is long and made of stone, and has two wide flights of stone stairs leading up to three curved portico doorways. There are two bronze statues on either side of the entrances, that have a greenish patina on them, and large sconces. The building looks old and ornate, and there are two police officers standing on the steps chatting with each other.

The courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Via Google street view (image has been edited)

 


5. Using and returning the license


An Ohio marriage license can be used in any county in the state when at least one of the parties is an Ohio resident. If neither party is an Ohio resident, the license can only be used in the county where it was issued. All Ohio marriage licenses expire 60 days after the date they’re issued.

 

The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the probate office by the officiant. (We’ll cover this more below.) 

 

The license must be returned within 30 days of the wedding.

 

 

6. 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. 

 

 

7. 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, your officiant must return it with the local county within 30 days. Check with your county for additional details.

 

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. 

 

 

Photograph shows a tan brick building with many narrow windows along the front and large glass doors, with an American flag on a pole outside. There is a woman walking up to the door of the building, with her arm outstretched. The sign on the building reads "Lorain County Justice Center', and there is a small green patch of grass and sidewalks along the front parking area.

The Lorain County Justice Center in Elyria, Ohio

via Google's street view.  (image has been edited)

 

 

Are you officiating a wedding in Ohio? 

 

Visit our Weddings by State: Ohio 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 Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo.

 


 

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About the Author
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves digging into the history and magic of ritual, exploring the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She’s an advocate for marriage equality and individuality. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys easy hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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