State Wedding Laws
U.S. wedding laws vary significantly from state-to-state, and even between individual counties. To help you navigate these complexities, we have created a comprehensive database that includes all the essential information about wedding laws around the country.
If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding, it’s vital you understand the legal steps involved and what will be required to ensure the union is properly recorded and recognized. Using the interactive map dropdown below, simply click on any state to read up on its specific marriage rules and regulations.
Understanding Marriage Licenses
Regardless of which state the wedding is in, a marriage license is key to finalizing a legal union. A marriage license is a legal document, procured from the government office in charge of recording marriages, that the couple and the officiant both fill out and sign after the ceremony. This document is returned back to the office that issued it, making the union official.
A marriage license application can appear complex if you’re not used to dealing with these documents. In case you wind up confused, we created a handy page explaining how to fill out a marriage license that details everything you’ll need to know. If you're a soon-to-be spouse that is still looking for an officiant where the ceremony will take place, you can use the Find a Minister resource on Get Ordained™ to find a minister nearby that will be sure to understand the legal information necessary and assist you in your union.
Please note that laws governing marriage licenses vary widely depending on where you’re located. Once obtained, these documents are typically only valid for 30-90 days, and there is rarely any leeway. Make sure you understand these nuances and talk with the couple beforehand. The main thing to coordinate is timing – the license should not be obtained months in advance, nor just days before the ceremony. It must also be returned to the issuing office promptly after the ceremony to ensure it doesn’t expire.
How to Make Sure a Wedding is Legally Recognized
As you prepare for a wedding, it’s only natural to focus on making the ceremony as amazing as possible. But don’t let those preparations distract from the legal aspects of officiating a wedding. After all, if you fail to follow the proper guidelines, that beautiful ceremony you worked so hard on could be potentially nullified.
Requirements for performing a wedding can change depending on which state (and even which county) it will take place in. We always recommend reaching out to marriage officials in the relevant county directly to learn what the process looks like in that area. Contact information for government marriage offices across the U.S. can be found by consulting our Officiate a Wedding Guide.
When contacting these officials, explain that you’re an ordained minister with plans to officiate a wedding and that you need to know what documentation is required to perform a wedding in their jurisdiction. Letters of Good Standing, official ordination credentials, and any other documents or materials you might require can be ordered via our exclusive minister store.