While you’ll be declared husband and wife at your wedding ceremony, you can only be declared legally wed if you have a marriage license. Without one, your big day is simply a commitment ceremony. Before you head down to town hall to pick your license up, check out these seven tidbits every couple needs to know about the logistics of applying for this important document.
1. You Need To Go In Person
The couple must apply for their marriage license and pick it up in person, says Victoria Meyer of Marry Me In Indy! "There are exceptions to this rule but they are very small."
2. You Need A License In Your Wedding's Home State
Your marriage license is only good in the state in which it’s issued, says Meyer. "If you are having a destination wedding you need to get the license at your destination. Keep that in mind when making travel plans. Check out the laws of that state, their requirements and their waiting period."
3. International Rules are Tricky
"Getting legally married in an international country can be tricky," says Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group. "While many destination wedding couples opt for a symbolic celebration, some may choose to go the legal route. If you do, make sure to familiarize yourself with your wedding destination’s laws, such as where and when you’re required to apply for a wedding license and how to do so. Some country’s may require you to arrive a certain number of days prior, or even take a blood test in order for your nuptials to be legally recognized. The best advice we can give is to work with an expert who knows all the ins and outs of getting legally married in your wedding destination. That way, you don’t miss a beat!"
4. There Are Basic Requirements
Always check the basic requirements ahead of time, to make sure you have the proper paperwork: ID, certified copies of your divorce decree, proof of address etc. "The clerk’s office is generally not a happy place. They don’t care that you are getting ready for the 'happiest day of your life,'" says Meyer. "You have to do everything by the book."
5. It Has An Expiration Date
In most US States, the marriage license comes with an expiration date, says Marcus and Ashley Kusi, authors and marriage bloggers at Our Peaceful Family. "For example, in Vermont it's valid for 60 days from the date it was issued, which means the wedding must be performed during that time period, otherwise, the license is void."
6. Only The Couple Can Apply For It
Minister, judge, mayor, magistrate etc.--these are the only people authorized to sign your license and solemnize your marriage, but they can’t get the license for you, says Meyer. "You can’t show up on your wedding day and expect a license to magically appear."
7. You Sign It After The Ceremony
Make sure you sign the marriage license after your ceremony, says Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics. "It’s best to do this straight after the actual ceremony, before the party gets started and the drinks start coming."
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