Getting Married – The Nitty Gritty
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of getting married is probably the wedding or marriage ceremony. However, it takes a lot more than a marriage ceremony to get married. First and foremost, you need “permission” from the state in the form of a marriage license.
The marriage license
A marriage license is issued by the county clerk’s office. Before a couple can be issued with a marriage license, they must fulfill certain requirements as stipulated by state law. The most basic one is that both parties must be 18 or older, unmarried and of sufficient mental capacity. Anyone under the age of 18 must first have the written consent of a parent or a judge. Most states require some form of ID such as a driver’s license or passport and the applicants’ social security numbers.
A few states also require couples to undergo blood tests, physical exams and vaccination against certain diseases. However, even in states where such tests are not mandatory, couples applying for marriage licenses are often offered HIV tests as part of the application process. You can find out the full requirements set by your state from your local marriage license bureau or county clerk’s office.
To apply for a marriage license, you need to submit your application along with all other required documents to the county clerk’s office and pay the application fee. Many states require that both parties be present but some will accept an “affidavit of absent applicant.”
The marriage ceremony
Once the marriage license has been issued, you can go ahead and have a marriage ceremony. A few states require that couples wait a few days between the time when the license is issued and the time when the marriage ceremony is performed. As always check with your county clerk’s office.
The license is only valid for a set period of time and you’ll need to have the marriage ceremony before it expires. The ceremony must be performed by someone who is authorized by the state to perform marriage ceremonies. Religious ceremonies are usually presided over by a religious official such as a minister, whereas civil ceremonies are presided over by a judge.
The marriage certificate
To make it official, both parties must sign the marriage certificate. Most states also require the person who performed the ceremony and one or two witnesses to sign the certificate. The officiant then sends a copy of the certificate to the county or state agency that is responsible for recording marriages.
This article is meant to give you an idea of what getting married involves and should not be regarded as legal advice. Check with the county clerk’s office or marriage license bureau for specific information on how to get married in your state.