Making Your Marriage Legal: Do NOT Forget These Tasks

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Getting married requires more than just a reception and ceremony. Each state has its own requirements when it comes to making your marriage legal. Virginia, Maryland, and DC all have different steps to take when it comes to obtaining a marriage license.

1. Virginia Marriage License

First and foremost, you have to apply for a marriage license by submitting an application, either online or in person, to the circuit court clerk. Just because you applied for a marriage license doesn’t mean you will automatically get approved. In order to get your marriage license formally approved, you and your partner must appear together in person at the circuit court clerk’s office. 

In order to make sure your marriage license application gets approved, you must bring and provide the following documents to the circuit court clerk:

  • Proof of Age
  • Your Parent’s Full Names
  • Money

Since you must be 18 years of age or older to be approved for a marriage license, you must bring a government-issued ID to show proof of age. Both a driver’s license or state ID will suffice. Secondly, you must provide your parents’ full names as seen on their birth certificates, though you will not need to provide physical copies of their birth certificates. Make sure you are aware of your parents’ middle and maiden names. In Virginia, a marriage license is $30 and shouldn’t vary from county to county. Each county, however, requires payment in different forms, so make sure you are checking your county’s website prior to your meeting with the circuit court clerk.

Once you have obtained your Virginia marriage license, it is time to get married! While there is no waiting period required after obtaining your Virginia marriage license, the license will expire after 60 days. In order for your marriage to be recognized as legal, you must have an officiant perform your ceremony who falls into one of three categories. First, any officiants registered in Virginia will work. Secondly, if you have an officiant in mind from out of state, you can have them officiate your wedding once they get approval at the county level, however, not all Virginia county clerks will accept online ordinations. Finally, any legal Virginia resident can become a one-time civil celebrant by petitioning their county. 

After the ceremony takes place, your officiant will need to sign both the A copy and B copy of your license. You do not have to worry about having any additional witness signatures. Your officiant will have five days to return the signed licenses back to the circuit court. Once the court has received and processed your marriage license, you will be mailed a certified copy of the license and the court will retain another copy for their records.

Photo by Photography Du Jour

2. Maryland Marriage License

Obtaining a marriage license in Maryland differs in many ways from Virginia. First and foremost is the fact that you must obtain your marriage license from the Circuit Court Clerk in the county the marriage will be taking place in. However, if it’s inconvenient to physically visit the Circuit Court Clerk’s office, you can apply using the Non-Resident Marriage License Application. If choosing this course of action, you should still contact the Circuit Court Clerk as each County has a different fee.

Once you have decided which county you are going to be getting married in, you can make an appointment with the Circuit Court Clerk of that county. On the day of the appointment, only 1 member of the party members is required to attend and provide the following documents:

  • Full name of each party
  • Place of residence of each party
  • Age of each party
  • Whether the parties are related by blood or marriage and, if so, in which degree of relationship
  • The Social Security number of each party who has a Social Security number
  • The marital status of each party; and whether either party was married previously, and the date and place of EACH death or judicial determination that ended any former marriage

After obtaining your Maryland marriage license, you must wait at least 48 hours before you have the ceremony and the marriage license will expire after 6 months. Remember that obtaining your marriage license is different from applying for your marriage license. When planning your wedding, make sure you give yourself enough time to apply for the license to be approved and mailed before your big day.

Additionally, Maryland marriage licenses can range from $35 – $85 depending on the county you plan to get married in. This fee typically needs to be paid in cash or money order form. 

Photo by Terri Baskin Photography

3. Washington, DC Marriage License

Washington, DC is one of the few states and districts that still recognizes common law alongside marriage licenses. Common law marriages are marriages that don’t require a couple to have a marriage license to be married, however, there are multiple requirements that you must meet for the marriage to be seen as a legal common law marriage. While Washington, DC does recognize common law marriages, Washington, DC also offers marriage Licenses. 

The process of obtaining a marriage license in Washington, DC can either be easy or more difficult. If you want your process to be quick and easy, Washington, DC offers an online application for marriage licenses. Make sure to be able to provide proof of age as Washington, DC requires both members of the marriage to be 18 years old or older. However, once you submit the Washington, DC marriage license application  a DC court staff member will reach out to you to approve your application. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a longer process, you can apply for your marriage license in person at the DC Superior Court. If you decide you want to apply in person, be aware that you will have to go through multiple safety checks and metal scanners, and the court recommends you arrive at least 4 hours before your scheduled appointment time to be able to get through all of these checkpoints.

After getting approved for your marriage license, it is time to have your ceremony. Washington, DC requires that, in order to be seen as legally married, a legal and recognized officiant, such as a minister, priest, rabbi, civil celebrant, temporary officiant, the wedding couple etc, must officiate your wedding.

Typically it is the officiant’s responsibility to return the signed marriage license to the circuit court clerk, or county clerk at the local marriage bureau. Once the court has processed the signed wedding license, you will receive one copy of your marriage license in the mail, or you can pay $15 per additional marriage license if you please.

Finally, the Washington DC, Marriage Bureau recommends that you apply for your marriage license 6-8 weeks before your ceremony day to ensure you have everything you need. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about your approved marriage license expiring as it does not expire.

We hope this information was helpful! Be sure to send this blog to a friend who is getting married! 

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