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   Obtaining a Marriage License

Obtaining a Marriage License

By Leah Steenstra

The florist has been set for months, the favors are wrapped and the polish from your bridal manicure is drying. Those details are important, but don’t forget about the piece of paper that makes everything official: The Marriage License. While rules vary from place to place, here are some general guidelines on what to expect.

  • Plan ahead. Unless it’s Las Vegas, where spur-of-the-moment weddings are commonplace, figure on a waiting time before the license is issued. A safe estimation is 3-5 business days, with the certificate good for at least 30 days.
  • Medical Records. Some municipalities require blood tests or other medical records. Check to see what the policy is in your area.
  • Bring ID. Commonly accepted forms of ID are birth certificates, drivers’ licenses and passports. Your Social Security number is also often required.
  • Carry Cash. Expect to pay a cost for the license. While it usually isn’t a sizeable fee, be prepared -- some places will only accept cash in the exact amount.
  • Go Together. Many places expect both bride and groom to be there, so plan to go on a day where both of you can be present.
  • Special Rules. There are often additional rules for two groups of people: Minors and Divorcees. If you are under 18, figure you’ll need some kind of parental permission. (Sixteen or younger? You’ll probably need a judge’s consent). If you are divorced, see if you need to bring a divorce decree.

Again, this is only meant to be a guideline. Check with your municipality to see what all the requirements are in your area for sure.

Not sure which municipality to contact? Generally speaking, if the bride’s resident state and the state of the wedding are the same, then an application is usually made at her municipality. If only the groom lives in that state, then it would be his municipality; if neither one of you lives there, the application is filled out in the municipality of the ceremony location.

Courtesy USABride

For information on obtaining a marriage license in San Diego County, see

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