Published: Friday, Oct. 29th, 2021
From sandy shores to stunning fall foliage, bustling nightlife to stately gardens and wineries, Delaware offers romantic backdrops of every kind. It’s easy to see why this charming New England state is a popular destination for weddings!
Applying for a marriage license in The First 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 Delaware, 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 Delaware, a friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony, if they’ve been ordained and have registered with the Clerk of Peace in the appropriate county. (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 Delaware: A clergyperson or ordained minister of any religion; various judges and magistrates; a Justice or Clerk of the Peace; and the chief executive officer of an incorporated municipality of the State. (See a detailed list and more Delaware marriage laws here.)
Small but mighty, Delaware is home to white sandy beaches, rich Native American and colonial history, museums, buzzing bars and venues, and thriving cities like Wilmington, Dover, and Newark, 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.
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 Clerk of the Peace office. At this time, some counties are operating by appointment only, and may require you to begin or complete the application process online before picking your license up in person.
Both parties must be at least 18 years old, and there are no exceptions for minors. You don’t need to be a Delaware resident to marry there.
Requirements to apply:
- A valid government issued ID that shows your date of birth (driver's license, passport, Consulate or Military ID)
- Proof of address
- Your parent’s birth names, place of residency, and place of birth
- The clerk may also ask to see: an official birth certificate or social security card
- Each county may require specific certified paperwork to confirm a divorce or the death of a previous spouse
If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Delaware, we recommend contacting the Clerk of the Peace closest to your venue to learn more.
The cost of a license is $70 when at least one party to the marriage is a state resident, or $120 for out-of-state couples. This cost includes a $20 recording fee. Applications processed online may be charged an additional $20.
There’s a 24 hour waiting period between the time a license is issued to you, and when your ceremony can take place.
A Delaware marriage license can be used anywhere in the state, and expires 30 days from the time of application (even when an application is processed online).
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage, two adult witnesses, and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the office that issued it. (We’ll cover this more below.)
The license must be returned within 4 days of the ceremony. If your officiant hasn’t returned the certificate of marriage within 15 days, they’ll be fined an additional $50 late fee.
To get a New Castle County marriage license, visit the Clerk's office in Wilmington!
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 to the county office where it was issued within 4 days.
Check with your county for details.
Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married!
We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, and any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!