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Marriage License Requirements

While it may not be the romantic or glamorous part of planning a wedding, getting a marriage license is required in all 50 states. Each state has its own requirements that must be fulfilled before a marriage license will be issued.

This article contains a helpful summary of the most common requirements for marriage licenses. As always, double-check your particular state's laws, as the requirements may vary.

Marriage License Requirements: Waiting Periods

Many states require a waiting period after applying for a marriage license to ensure that couples have time to really think things out and be certain that they're making the right decision. There's no spur-of-the-moment, Elvis-type wedding for couples in these states. You must wait a specified number of days before you can have your marriage ceremony.

Here are some examples of waiting periods:

  • 1 day: Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana (can be waived), New York, South Carolina
  • 2 days: Maryland
  • 3 days: Alaska, Florida (can be waived), Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma (if under the age of 18), Oregon (can be waived), Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin

Optional Step: Marriage Preparation Classes

To promote healthy marriages, a number of states will discount the marriage license fee or waive the waiting period if a couple completes a premarital preparation program. These programs teach skills such as effective communication and conflict resolution. For instance, Minnesota reduces the fee by $75 for attending 12 hours of marriage education classes, and Texas gives a $60 discount for 8 hours.

No Longer Required: Blood Tests

Today, none of the 50 states still require a blood test in order to obtain a marriage license. Montana was the last state to repeal its requirement for blood tests in 2019.

Expiration of the Marriage License

Once you've received your marriage license, it's only valid for a certain amount of time, which varies by state. If your license expires before the date of your officiation, another common requirement for a valid marriage, then you will likely have to go through the licensing process again, unless you're allowed to renew the original license. Below is a list of the expiration periods for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

  • 30 days: Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee
  • 35 days: Colorado
  • 60 days: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • 90 days: Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island
  • 6 months: Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey
  • 1 year: Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming
  • Other: Connecticut (65 days), Michigan (33 days), Montana (180 days), South Dakota (90 days), Utah (32 days), and Texas (89 days)
  • No expiration: District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina

Getting Legal Help Completing Your Marriage License Requirements

When contemplating the big day, couples may have legal questions relating to any variety of matters, since getting married has broad legal and financial implications. If so, it may be a good idea to consult with a local family law attorney who can guide you through the legal aspects of your upcoming nuptials.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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