Published: Friday, Sep. 17th, 2021
From sunny beaches to abundant farmland and fresh mountain air, Georgia offers unforgettable backdrops of every kind. And considering the state’s reputation as a cultural hotspot -- with LGBTQ+ friendly metro areas, world-class museums, delicious food, and a thriving nightlife -- it's easy to see why Georgia is a top destination for weddings.
Applying for a marriage license in the Peach 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 Georgia, scroll down for helpful links.)
Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.
A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.
In Georgia, 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 Georgia: The Governor or any former Governor of the state, any judge, a city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other person of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony. (Find more Georgia marriage laws here.)
Georgia is home to countless music venues and cocktail bars, historic sites, romantic hikes, and even Masters-approved golf clubs! And with thriving cities like Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, and Athens, it’s 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.
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:
You’ll apply for your marriage license through the county probate court. If at least one of the parties to your marriage is a Georgia resident, you can apply in any county. If both of you are from out of state, you’ll need to apply for the license in the county where the ceremony is to be held.
Both parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for the license, or meet the requirements for minors, and bring proof of age (such as a birth certificate, government issued ID, or immigration papers) and proof of divorce (if this applies).
If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Georgia, we recommend contacting the probate court closest to your venue to learn more.
The cost of a license varies by county, ranging from about $60 to 80. There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony. Due to COVID-19, many county probate court annex locations have stopped accepting cash, but all locations will accept credit, debit, and prepaid cards for payment.
There’s no waiting period between the time an application is filed and when the marriage license is issued and can be used.
A Georgia marriage license can be issued and used in any county if at least one party to the marriage is a state resident. If neither party is a state resident, the license must be used in the county where it was issued. Your license does not expire.
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the probate court clerk in the county where it was issued. (We’ll cover this more below.)
The license must be returned within 30 days of the ceremony.
Atlanta is home to the Fulton County Probate Court -
where you'll head to get a marriage license in Fulton County!
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.
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 wedding officiant must return it with the local county within 30 days. Check with your county for details.
Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married!
To get a marriage license in Augusta, head to the Richmond County Probate Court.
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.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!