Marriage License Info by State

This table covers what office issues the marriage license, the marriage license cost, and more. Marriage License Fees are subject to change. The numbers listed in this table may not reflect the actual cost of the marriage license and are meant to represent their approximate cost.

An Introduction to the Marriage License

In the US, a marriage license (or wedding license) is a document issued by a local state authority – usually the county or city clerk– authorizing a couple to marry. The steps required to get a license vary from state to state, and sometimes even by county or city. So why do couples need to apply for a wedding license? Weddings are a legally binding contract between the couple, local governments keep track of who is getting married. Without a marriage license, weddings can't be (in most cases) considered legally binding.

As the officiant, it's important to have a grasp on these matters. And while you aren't expected to be an expert, we find that knowledge of the wedding license process, and understanding terms like, “marriage license,” and “filing obligations” will make your job much easier.

The links below will help you understand more about the wedding license. After reviewing these pages, you will be able to guide the couple, and serve as a better officiant. That's because the couple should concentrate on participation in the wedding, and celebrating their love, while you as the officiant should be on hand to guide them through the bureaucratic process.

Wedding Day Marriage License Duties

When the big day comes, the officiant's responsibilities include handling the marriage license. You want to make sure that you are collecting the right information, and that the information on the license is accurate – this must be the case for the contract to be legally binding.

Like any other legally binding contract, you want to take your time, review the information here and on the document, and make sure you know how to proceed. The details below will help you feel confident and informed about the wedding license process when the big day comes.

  1. Ask the Couple to Present Their Marriage License
  2. Confirm that the Marriage License is Valid
  3. Sign the Marriage License
  4. Return the Marriage License

How to Fill Out a Marriage License

Filling out the wedding license is an important part of the wedding officiant's duties. This section unpacks the different sections of the document, and teaches you how to fill each part in correctly. Every day, county clerks return thousands of marriage licenses to officiants and couples because they are not filled out correctly. That's why you should familiarize yourself with these tips early on, and then after the ceremony, take care when filling out the form.

This section will ensure that you are filling in the correct titles, such as “minister” and that you know how to fill out a marriage license as an AMM minister – even if you are celebrating a Catholic, or Atheist wedding ceremony. We'll also teach you about denominations, ceremony types, and make sure you've fulfilled the witness requirements.

Marriage License Waiting Period, Expiration, and Return

Every state has different laws governing when the marriage license is issued, can be completed, and must be returned. There are three types of laws that define these parameters, they are the marriage license Waiting Period, Return Deadline, and Expiration.

Marriage license waiting periods can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In some places, there isn't a waiting period at all. But in some jurisdictions, waiting periods ranging from a few days to a few weeks.

Likewise, you don't want to apply too soon, since most licenses are only valid for a limited time.

After the wedding, officiants, or the couple (again, you need to check) must submit the filled-in wedding license to the appropriate government office – usually the one that issued it – before the document expires.. Failing to meet this deadline can result in penalties, or the marriage not being legally recognized.


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