Marriage is one of the biggest events you will have in your entire life. It is probably in the top three moments along with having a child and buying your first home. There is a lot of planning involved in what to wear and who to invite, but there is also the legal side of things to make sure you will be legally married. So, she (or he!) said yes, now what?
What is Marriage?
It is much more than agreeing to spend the rest of your lives together. It is a legal union acknowledged by all levels of government. It is only acknowledged by holding a marriage license and conducting a ceremony. (Unless you are in the small handful of states that still acknowledge common law marriages.) This ceremony can be as extravagant as a multi-million dollar event on your own island with people you only knew once or it can be as modest as a simple ceremony with two witnesses and a justice of the peace.
When you exchange vows and the officiant declares you married, your license will be signed and sent off, making you legally married. You will receive the marriage certificate a few weeks later. The only way to end the marriage will be by legally ending of the contract via dissolution, divorce, or death.
How to Obtain a Marriage License?
Each state writes its own laws pertaining to the issuance of marriage licenses. The District of Columbia, Mississippi, females only in Montana and African Americans and Hispanics only in New York (for Sickle Cell testing) require a blood test before the license will be issued. All other states no longer uphold the once common blood test required.
Fees and Wait Period
All states require a fee and this fee is usually small, around $10-$115. Once the fee is paid, most states will issue the license without a wait period. In states where there is a blood test requirement, there is generally a three day wait for the blood test results to come back. Some states still have a wait period ranging from 72 hours to 5 days before the license is ready. Florida has a 3 day wait unless the couple attends a marriage prep course. Once the license is issued, a couple may still have to wait 1-3 days. Most states do not have a wait period though, and you can head off to tie the knot once the license is in your hand.
The time frame for the license to be valid is also dependent upon the state. Once the time limit is exceeded, a new license will need to be applied for. Time limits range from 30 days all the way up to no expiration.
Obtaining your license to get married needs to be timed correctly, so check with your state’s laws early on in the planning process.