What is a marriage license? How does it work? And how has it changed with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders?
While leading up to the big day your head may be swimming with cake tastings, flowers and last-minute celebration details, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that your walk down the aisle must be accompanied with an official license in order for your union to be legal. So, before you tie the knot, you need to sign along the dotted line. Here’s everything you need to know to get your marriage on paper.
First, what are a marriage license and a marriage certificate? A marriage license is a legal document you must acquire prior to your ceremony. It needs to be filled out, signed and returned by your officiant to the county at which point, your marriage certificate is issued. This is the piece of paper that provides official proof that you are married.
Here’s the step-by-step process to follow in obtaining your marriage license.
Step 1: Get Organized & Check-In With Your County Clerk
Before you apply for a marriage license, you’ll need all the information your individual county requires in order to completely fill out the affidavit. This could be everything from your social security number to the location and date of your wedding, just be sure to check your local county’s requirements prior to filling out the application. Marriage licenses expire and some states require a waiting period as well, so you’ll need to plan out the best time to obtain your license.
Step 2: Visit the County Clerk
Once you’ve set your date to visit your local county clerk, make an appointment and make sure to give yourself a couple of hours as there may be a wait. You and your partner must both be present at the appointment for the license to be valid.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring along:
– Proof of identity (check state requirement, typically a license or passport)
– Witness (Not all states require)
– Parental information (DOB, full names, birth state, dates of passing)
– Certificate of the previous divorce or partner death (if applicable)
– If you’re under 18, you’ll need a parent present
– Marriage license fee money
Step 3: Get Your Signatures
Now that you have your marriage license, it needs to be properly signed to be completed. It varies by state but here are the most common required signatures:
– The Couple
– The Officiant
– Two Witnesses
Step 4: Return Your Completed Marriage License
Following your ceremony (congrats!), it is up to the officiant to return the signed marriage license to the county clerk by person or mail. When this is completed, you’re done and officially married! A copy of the certificate will be mailed to you or you can go in person to pick it up.
How has this changed with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders?
As we adjust to our new normal, we’ve made do and give couples the ability to tie the knot via Zoom. While this may seem like the easier option, you still need your official documentation to officialize your union.
Our answer? Arizona.
Arizona offers the option to do it by mail and the license can be used in any state within the United States. Here’s the rundown of obtaining your marriage license from Arizona:
Step 1: Double Check in Your Local County
Many states, such as California and New York, are working to amend the law given the current climate. Make sure to look up your country’s record and marriage license to see if they are open or accepting by mail. Double-check neighboring counties as well.
Step 2: Visit Arizona’s Online Clerk Office
If your entire state is not issuing licenses or it is near impossible to acquire one in a timely manner, visit Arizona’s License service website and follow the steps provided. You’ll need information such as your social security numbers, photo IDs and mailing address handy to fill out the marriage license affidavit form.
Step 3: Make the Return
Lastly, you’ll need to return the application, affidavit and required copies via email or mail as noted on the website.