I wanted to make a full blog post about this because I remember I had no idea what a marriage license was when I was engaged and the thought of it freaked me out. It sounds so legal and heavy that I wanted nothing to do with it. No one tells you need one or when to get one, so here is a space where we talk about all things marriage licenses.
Of course, marriage licenses differ from state to state so I will try to keep this post more about the generic idea of the concept and add specifics for my state, California. So before you apply for your marriage license make sure you are looking at regulations and rules for your state.
The Webster Dictionary definition of Marriage License reads: “a written authorization for the marriage of two named people that is granted by a legally qualified government official”.
So basically a marriage license/certificate is what makes your marriage legal and binds the two of you in the eyes of the law. So who needs it? Anyone who is getting married! Your marriage license also plays a role in changing your name, if that process is for you. There is a difference between the license and the certificate. The license is what you apply for before you get married, and the certificate is what the county sends back to you once you actually got married.
To apply for your marriage license check online for whatever files you will need, or call your county clerk. Making an appointment is also a great idea so you use your time efficiently. You’re a busy gal, you got things to do! You will for sure need your driver’s license or passport as well as your birth certificate (if you are under 18 you will need a parent) but you also need to know where and when you will be getting married. Make sure you visit the county clerk’s office on a date where you are both available. You and your significant both must be present.
Your marriage license does have an expiration date. In California, it is good for 90 days, so it’s important to be aware of when best to get one. Although you have 90 days, I would not wait until the last minute. It may take a few days to process your license and it would be wise to leave a couple days for any unforeseen error or filing.
Once your license is now in your possession you will need to sign it, so will your officiant (whoever marries you), and in the state of California you will need a witness to sign it too. Make it a top priority on your list to bring this to your wedding day. Most people bring this to the wedding and sign it after their ceremony and before the party starts. This is typically a time where all of the necessary people for signing are present.
After it’s been signed by all necessary parties and you are officially married it is the officiant’s job to turn in your license. This can be done either in person or by mail. Once it is sent in you are good to go, YOUR LEGALLY MARRIED WAHOOO! After it’s been delivered to the county clerk you will be mailed a copy of your certificate, or you will have to go purchase one from the clerk’s office.
I hope this post helps someone at least understand what a marriage license is and how to obtain one. If you have more questions about the topics in this post or about your states regulations please keep researching. This is just a reflection of what I learned when I recently got a marriage license. There are plenty of resources online and if you call your county clerk i’m sure they have plenty of information to share with you.
Here is an interesting link I have found about zoom weddings and obtaining a license during COVID-19 times.
Follow along for more tips for before the big day! https://devynbphoto.com/blog/
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