Planning 101: Obtaining Your Marriage License

The time spent planning your wedding can be some of the most exciting and stressful times of your life. The location, photography, florist, catering, reception details… and sometimes that’s just the beginning! Even the simplest of weddings have a lot of planning to do. Just remember: In the end, everything will come together and you’ll be married! So don’t sweat it.

In the midst of all your planning, there is one very important thing: Obtaining your marriage license! The requirements and waiting periods vary from state to state (and sometimes county to county), so it’s best to check into the requirements at least one month prior to your wedding. We’ve checked into the requirements for Maryland and a few of the surrounding states to help get you headed in the right direction. So what do you need to do? Here are a few steps to get you going:

  1.  The first thing you need to know is that your marriage license must be obtained from the state, and often the specific county of where you will be married. Do you live in Baltimore City and plan on getting married in Havre de Grace? You’ll need to obtain your license from Harford County – not Baltimore City. Remember: It’s the LOCATION of your ceremony that determines where you’ll need your license from!
  2. There is often a waiting period for your marriage license to take effect. Maryland has a 48-hour waiting period, while Delaware has 24-hour waiting period. Since it varies from state to state, these waiting periods are very important to note. You wouldn’t want to wait until the very last moment to get your license – only to realize it won’t be valid on your wedding day!
  3. In relation to the waiting period, you should also note the length of validity the license has. In Maryland the length of validity is 6 months, while in other states the length can be as short as 30 days. Planning ahead is great, but planning too far in advance may nullify the license!
  4. There is almost always a fee attached to obtaining your marriage license. Most states require at least one partner to apply in-person at a county clerk’s office. Inquire with the clerk’s office to confirm the fee. It may be listed online, but it could always change. Also (a quick tip): Many county clerk’s offices require you to pay for your marriage license in exact cash, so be prepared!
  5. There are several other things to know before obtaining your marriage license. Some states require a blood test from one or both partners to prove non-familial relations. Some states require that only one partner must be present to apply for the license, while others require that both must be present. Some states only require your driver’s license as proof of identity, while others may require a birth certificate or passport.

We hope that these tips get you headed in the right direction!

Relevant Links: Maryland | Virginia | Washington DC | Pennsylvania | Delaware

Monkton Engagement by Natalie Franke Photography
Ladew Gardens Engagement by Elizabeth Ryan Photography
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