Published: Friday, Nov. 5th, 2021
From sleek modern skyscrapers to gorgeous mountain vistas, dense forests and luxurious hot springs, Arkansas offers romantic backdrops of every kind. And considering the state’s laid back attitudes and classic Americana charm, it's easy to see why Arkansas is a top destination for weddings.
Applying for a marriage license in The Natural 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 Arkansas, 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 Arkansas, a friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony if they’ve been ordained and register with the state beforehand.
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 Arkansas: the Governor; various judges and justices; a justice of the peace; any regularly ordained minister or priest of any religious sect or denomination; various mayors and officials; and those perform marriages through the traditional rite of the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as Quakers. (Find a detailed list of qualified officiants and other Arkansas marriage laws here.)
Arkansas is home to stunning forest trails, fertile farmland, and thriving cities offering top-notch nightlife and shopping, all of which make 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 County Clerk’s Office or the Records Department, depending on your county. Some counties require couples to begin the application process online. You don’t need to be an Arkansas resident to marry there.
Requirements to apply for a marriage license:
Your license will cost $60, and many offices don’t accept credit cards or checks, so it’s important to plan ahead. There’s no fee to record your marriage after the ceremony.
Arkansas has no waiting period between the time an application is filed and when a marriage license is released and can be used.
An Arkansas marriage license can be used anywhere in the state, but must be returned to the county office where it was issued. It expires 60 days after it’s issued.
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the county office where it was issued by the couple. (We’ll cover this more below.) You must return a marriage license to the county office where it was issued whether it’s been used or not.
The license must be returned before it expires.
To apply for a Pulaski County marriage license, head to the County Clerk's Office in Little Rock!
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, the couple must record it with the county where it was issued before it expires. Check with your county for details.
Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married!
Relax after the ceremony in one of Arkansas' romantic nature escapes.
There are over 40 hot springs and 50 state parks to choose from!
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 Fayetteville and Little Rock.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!