Love is great, but only a marriage license is a wedding essential that makes it legal. Although marriage license requirements vary from state to state — sometimes from county to county — there are basic stipulations that usually apply in most locations. These can include:
The two of you should apply together and in person. If either or both of you is younger than 18, you may have to provide a notarized letter of consent from your parents. You may even be required to have one of them with you when you apply.
Take Proper Identification
Take valid, proper identification. In many states, your identification must include a photo. Most states will accept your driver’s license, notarized birth certificate, military ID or passport. But requirements vary, so call ahead to learn exactly what you’ll need. If either of you was born outside the U.S. or isn’t an American citizen, you’ll probably need additional identification. Many marriage licenses are issued at the county level, but confirm this, too.
Bleed for Love
If your state requires it, get blood tests. Seven states and the District of Columbia still demand them, including Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana (only the bride), Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana (only the bride) and Oklahoma. The wedding essentials test must be given before you apply for the marriage license, and time restrictions of four weeks or less are applied in some locations.
Check for Restrictions
Depending on the state, there are special wedding essentials requirements for when and where your marriage license is valid. Its use may be restricted to a particular county, for example, or for within a 30- or 60-day period. Many states require at least a 24-hour waiting period. Again, go to your the government office to check their marriage license requirements and see if the waiting period applies to you.
Stabs From the Past
If you or your fiance have been married previously, you’ll need details like the date and place of your annulment or divorce. Some states require proof that any such marriages were legally concluded.
Don’t Misplace It
Your marriage license must be signed by the officiant — usually a justice of the peace or an ordained minister — on your wedding day, as well as by witnesses. Also, you’ll need copies so you can change your marital status with, among others, insurance companies, the Internal Revenue Service, financial institutions and government programs like Social Security.
Marriage license requirements are important to know for wedding planning. That way, when you go to apply for your license, you will be prepared.