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So, you and your long-term partner want to get married. First off, congratulations! Whether you’re finally sealing the deal after a few months or many years, this is a big deal. If you’re worried about settling down, shake it off and know pre-wedding anxiety is all part of the process.
Thanks, man. But, damn, there’s so much to do before getting married …
Oh, for sure. You and your to-be spouse have to schedule your ...
Like, when is my bachelor party? When’s it okay to see my bros?
Well, that stuff will happen, but there are more important matters to attend to.
More important than my bachelor party?
Yes! Remember the mantra, happy wife, happy life.
Beyond scheduling your wedding, hiring a catering service, and getting your women’s and men’s wedding bands, there are some other particulars that need your attention. One of the most important ones is knowing how to get a wedding license.
You’ve probably heard the term marriage license and marriage certificate thrown around, but how do they differ? Let’s put it this way: The marriage license comes before the wedding while you receive a marriage certificate.
Come again? Okay, so you and your spouse have to obtain a marriage license before your wedding ceremony. The marriage license is a legal document—often obtained at your local county’s office—which is signed by you, your spouse, and your wedding’s officiant. Once your wedding ceremony has been completed and all required parties have signed the marriage license, your officiant will submit the document back to the county clerk. Once that document is verified, you and your spouse will receive your legal marriage certificate.
Okay, that makes sense. But why? Why do we need one? Can’t we just get married?
A marriage license makes your license legal in accordance with the law.
Wait. I can get married illegally? That sounds dope!
Well, not exactly. You can get married without a wedding license—and you won’t get arrested for it. But your marriage won’t be seen as legal in the eyes of the state.
What? Why does the state need a document?
The state needs a legal document verifying your wedding so the financial benefits from marriage can be implemented. This includes married couples’ tax break, sharing of social security benefits, partnering healthcare plans, and more. Without such a document, you can never, in name, be legally identified as a “wedded couple.”
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Getting your marriage license should be done earlier rather than later. Different states have different mandates as to when you should get your license—when it must be obtained to be considered valid. For some states, that includes some marriage licenses that come with expiration dates. In other cases, a state may require you to submit your signed license within a certain number of days before your wedding is done.
Obtaining your marriage license varies by state, but there are commonalities between each. First, you’ll need to submit an application, and you’ll need to pay a fee.
There’s always something …
Unfortunately, yes, but the fee will be null compared to how much you’ll spend on your wedding in total—the cost can range from $10 to $110 across the United States. You’ll need some basics to properly apply for your license, which includes you and your spouse showing proof of identity, which can include: your birth certificate, social security card, state ID or driver’s license, U.S. passport, etc. Other documents will be needed depending on the background of your lives, which include: a death certificate if you’re widowed, or a divorce decree if one of you was formerly married. And, once you have it and you’re married, all you’ll need is the signature of you, your new spouse, the officiant, and two witnesses in attendance.
Once your wedding ceremony has come and gone, you need to make sure that your wedding license is properly submitted. This can include either submitting it in-person or by mail—potentially useful for couples having destination weddings followed by immediate honeymoons.
Your officiant should be the one who submits the marriage license for you. Once submitted and verified, you will be provided with copies that are necessary for other legal purposes. This can include partnering with your health and vehicle insurance plans, updating your social security information if one of you is changing their last name, and further updates with your bank, credit card companies, the IRS, and more.
You should obtain a few copies of your marriage license ahead of time to avoid future headaches. Getting married is all about love. But the financial benefits awarded to married couples is a serious plus.
If you’ve thought about putting a ring on it, you shouldn’t wait any longer. Profess your love, scream it from the rooftops, gather a party of your friends, and get engaged. Then plan your wedding and get your marriage license in order. That way, you can be legally set and ready to go once you and your spouse share your rings.
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