Wedding Officiant Guidelines for Completing Marriage Licenses

Marriage License Laws State Marriage License Table

THE MARRIAGE LICENSE EXPLAINED

  1. What is the Marriage License?
  2. Who Files for the Marriage License?
  3. Where does the Couple file for the Marriage License?
  4. How much does the Marriage License Cost?
  5. What are my Officiant Responsibilities with the Marriage License?
  6. How do I complete the Marriage License as Officiant?
  7. Who Returns the Marriage License?
  8. How do I Confirm the Wedding I Officiated is Legal?
BECOME AN AMM MINISTER

What is the Marriage License?

The marriage license is a document that makes the marriage a binding legal contract. From a bureaucratic viewpoint, the marriage license is no different than any other binding legal contract. It serves as a state government record that the two parties listed on the document are contractually obligated to each other, in other words, they are legally married.

If you want to know more about government minister registration requirements to perform marriage in your state, check out our Marriage Minister Registration Guide.

Who Files for the Marriage License?

It is the couple's responsibility to file for the marriage license. This is often confusing to people getting married and performing marriage for the first time. The officiant does not play any role in filing for the marriage license, however he or she has an important role on the wedding day, when the couple must present their marriage license to be completed by the officiant.

Where does the Couple File for the Marriage License?

The office that issues the marriage license varies from state to state. Generally, the issuing office is located in the county courthouse. Our state marriage license table below shows you which office issues the marriage license in each US State.

How much does the Marriage License Cost?

The cost of the marriage license also varies from state to state . The marriage license fee in your state can be found in our state marriage license table.

What are my Officiant Responsibilities with the Marriage License?

As the Wedding Officiant, you need to:

  1. Ask the couple to present their Marriage License.

    The couple should have the marriage license with them.

  2. Confirm that the Marriage License is valid.

    All states have different laws governing the window of time during which the marriage license is valid and can be signed. For example in Georgia once issued, the marriage license never expires, meaning the couple could file for the license many months in advance of the wedding date, though once the marriage license is signed it has to be returned within 30 days. In Texas on the other hand, the couple is granted the marriage license immediately but must wait 3 days before it can be legally completed. Learn more about the marriage license laws regarding the Waiting Period, Return, and Expiration.

  3. Complete and Sign the Marriage License

    Once you are satisfied that the marriage license is valid and all the information is presented correctly, complete the fields relevant to you and sign the license along with any required witnesses. Guidance on completing the officiant fields on the marriage license are below.

  4. Return the Marriage License to its Issuance Office.

    This is usually the couple's responsibility and in most states the marriage license can be returned by mail. The specific instructions regarding how to fill it out and return it will be included when the couple files for the marriage license.

How do I Complete the Marriage License as the Wedding Officiant?

The specific fields, formatting, and wording on marriage licenses vary from state to state, even county to county, so it is important to read the instructions that come with the document carefully. Below is a comprehensive list of fields you may be asked to fill out when completing the marriage license as the wedding officiant.

Officiant Title

If the marriage license asks for your Title, write "Minister".

When you become ordained with American Marriage Ministries, you are accepted into our church as a minister. It is with this title, Minister, that you have the authority to perform marriage.

Church Affiliation

If the marriage license asks for your Church, write "American Marriage Ministries".

As a minister with AMM, you are able to perform marriage in accordance with any religious practice, but when doing so you are still acting as a minister of American Marriage Ministries. We can not give you the authority to act as a representative of any other church.

Religious Denomination

If the marriage license asks for your Denomination, write "Non-Denominational", unless the marriage was celebrated in accordance with a specific denominational rite, which you should specify.

By performing marriage as an AMM minister, you are acting as a representative of American Marriage Ministries, a non-denominational and interfaith church. For this reason "Non-Denominational" is usually the most appropriate response. If your ceremony was celebrated with the tradition of a specific denomination, you should specify this (eg. Baptist). Additionally, there are a few counties that will not allow ministers to specify "Non-Denominational", if you are informed of this by your local county clerk, write "American Marriage Ministries".

Ceremony Type

The license may ask whether the wedding was Civil or Religious. Unless otherwise specified, you should mark "Religious".

Even if you perform a ceremony that is secular in nature, you will be doing so in your capacity as a minister, which is a “Religious” official. In general, a wedding is only registered as “Civil” when it has been performed by a judge or other officer of the court.

Witness Requirements

Many states require that 1 - 2 witnesses also sign the marriage license.

It is a requirement in many states that a witness, or pair of witnesses, also sign the marriage license. The witness(es) must complete their required fields on the license and sign the document. Traditionally this is done by the maid of honor and/or best man.

Who Returns the Marriage License?

Depending on the state, it can be the responsibility of the couple or the minister to return the completed marriage license. The license must be returned to the office from which it was issued, or to another approved government office, in person or via the mail. Specific instructions should be included with the marriage license when it is filed for by the couple.

How do I Confirm the Wedding I Officiated is Legal?

After the marriage license is returned to its issuance office, they make a copy and file the original with a state level government office. In most states this is the Department of Health or Bureau of Vital Statistics. The couple should also receive a certified copy of the marriage license within a few weeks of its return.

MARRIAGE LICENSE LAWS

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 Period

The marriage license waiting period refers to laws that mandate the couple wait for a period of time between when they file for the marriage license and when they are able to complete and return it.

Some states, like California, have no waiting period, meaning the couple can get married on the same day that they file for the marriage license. In other states, like Wisconsin, the couple is required to wait six days to get married from the time they apply for their marriage license until the ceremony and signing of the document.

Marriage License Expiration

The marriage license expiration refers to laws that invalidate the marriage license if it has not been completed and returned within a set amount of time from when it was issued.

In Ohio the marriage license is valid for 60 days, meaning the couple should wait to file for the marriage license at least 60 days before the scheduled wedding date. In Nevada on the other hand, the marriage license is valid for an entire year.

Marriage License Return

The marriage license return refers to laws requiring that the marriage license be completed and returned before its expiration date or before a certain number of days have passed since the wedding ceremony.

Couples getting married in Hawaii must return the marriage license before it expires within its 30 day window, while marriage licenses in Texas must be returned within 10 days following the wedding.

The state marriage license table below provides all the pertinent marriage license information for each state, including the marriage license fee, issuance office, and laws governing its return.

BECOME AN AMM MINISTER

State Marriage License Information

STATE
ISSUANCE OFFICE
FEE
WAITING PERIOD
EXPIRATION
RETURN

Alabama

ISSUANCE OFFICE Probate Court
FEE $40-$80
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Alaska

ISSUANCE OFFICE Bureau of Vital Statistics
FEE $60
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days to Receive
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Arizona

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $76
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 20 Days from Wedding

Arkansas

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $58-$60
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

California

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk or Recorder
FEE $35-$100
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Colorado

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $30
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Connecticut

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $30
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 65 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Delaware

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $50-$100
WAITING PERIOD 1 Day Before Completing
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

District
of Columbia

ISSUANCE OFFICE Marriage Bureau
FEE $35
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days to Receive
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Florida

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $93.50
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days For Residents; None For Non-Residents
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Georgia

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $27-$67
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Hawaii

ISSUANCE OFFICE Department of Health
FEE $60
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Idaho

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Recorder
FEE $28
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Illinois

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $30-$70
WAITING PERIOD 1 Day Before Completing
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Indiana

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $18-$60
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Iowa

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $35
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days to Receive
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Kansas

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $85.50
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days to Receive
EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Kentucky

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $35.50-$37
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Louisiana

ISSUANCE OFFICE Parish Clerk of Court
FEE $27.50
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days Before Completing
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Maine

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $40
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Maryland

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $30-$85
WAITING PERIOD 2 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN Before Expiration

Massachusetts

ISSUANCE OFFICE City or Town Clerk
FEE $4-$60
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Michigan

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $20-$30
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 33 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Minnesota

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Registrar
FEE $40-$115
WAITING PERIOD 5 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Mississippi

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $21
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Missouri

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $48-$62
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Montana

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $53
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 6 Months
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Nebraska

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $15
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN 15 Days from Wedding

Nevada

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $60
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN Before Expiration

New
Hampshire

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $50
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days Before Completing
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 6 Days from Wedding

New
Jersey

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $28
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

New
Mexico

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $25
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 90 Days from Wedding

New
York

ISSUANCE OFFICE City or Town Clerk
FEE $35
WAITING PERIOD 1 Day
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

North
Carolina

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Registrar
FEE $60
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

North
Dakota

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Registrar
FEE $65
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Ohio

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $44-$65
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

Oklahoma

ISSUANCE OFFICE Court Clerk
FEE $5-$50
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 10 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Oregon

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $50-$60
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days Before Completing
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Pennsylvania

ISSUANCE OFFICE Register of Wills or Orphans Court
FEE $45-$85
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Puerto
Rico

ISSUANCE OFFICE Demographic Registry
FEE $150
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Rhode
Island

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $24
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

South
Carolina

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $50-$100
WAITING PERIOD 1 Day To Receive
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 30 Days from Wedding

South
Dakota

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Registrar
FEE $40
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 20 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Tennessee

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $37.50-$97.50
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 3 Days from Wedding

Texas

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $81
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days Before Completing
EXPIRATION 90 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

US Virgin
Islands

ISSUANCE OFFICE Superior Court
FEE $100
WAITING PERIOD 8 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION No Expiration
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Utah

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $45
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 14 Days from Wedding

Vermont

ISSUANCE OFFICE Town Clerk
FEE $45
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 10 Days from Wedding

Virginia

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $30
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN 5 Days from Wedding

Washington

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Auditor
FEE $35-$64
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

West
Virginia

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $56
WAITING PERIOD 3 Days Before Completing
EXPIRATION 60 Days
RETURN Before Expiration

Wisconsin

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $110
WAITING PERIOD 6 Days To Receive
EXPIRATION 30 Days
RETURN 3 Days from Wedding

Wyoming

ISSUANCE OFFICE County Clerk
FEE $30
WAITING PERIOD None
EXPIRATION 1 Year
RETURN Before Expiration
* Marriage License Fee - 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.