getting married at the courthouse

Getting Married at the Courthouse

With the country reeling and recovering from lockdown, many have been forced to adjust their way of life. For example, people are having to navigate how to reschedule, reorganize and postpone major events. Among these events are family vacations, parties, and even weddings. In order to adhere to social distancing restrictions and other regulations, people are finding new ways to get creative when celebrating their big life events. Some couples are choosing to circumvent a big wedding,tying the knot with a good old fashioned courthouse wedding while planning a small gathering or reception at a later date. Getting married at the courthouse can keep things simple upfront while giving newlyweds time to plan for later celebrations to include friends and family. 

Getting Married at the Courthouse – A Checklist

We’ve discussed all the “technical details” you should be aware of when preparing for your nuptials before, but what about now? During our current health climate, getting married without a ceremony or reception has changed the terrain for those planning their big day. If you’re just heading to the courthouse and plan on putting something much grander together down the line, your day might be a little more simplified. 

documents needed for courthouse marriage
If you’re not sure which documents are needed for a courthouse marriage, look no further. There are various forms of ID and vital records you may be required to provide.

Here’s a list of things you absolutely must have when heading to the courthouse to get married.

  • Your marriage license – Believe us, we know the confusion surrounding marriage certificates and marriage licenses. That’s why we explained it all for you here! Regardless of whether you’re planning to return to the courthouse later and return your license, or if you’re going to complete the entire process in one fell swoop – you’ve gotta have your license. Some couples may decide to get their marriage license and take it home, then return after a very private ceremony. That’s totally ok! If you don’t have an officiant, your county clerk can stand as an authorized person witnessing your nuptials.
  • Marriage license planning – some states may take a few days to process your marriage license. Ensure you’ve checked on your state’s time constraints as you may not be able to just walk into your county courthouse and pick it up on the same day. It’s also important to note that licenses do have an expiration date!
  • ID – In order to apply for your license, you’ll need to show up with appropriate identification.  A government issued photo ID is mandatory, but remember you may need to bring certified copies of divorce records, death certificates and in some cases your birth certificate as well. To determine what forms of ID and other vital documents you may need, be sure to contact the county clerk where you’re applying for your license.
  • A blood test – It’s not common anymore, but some states do still require couples submit a blood test to verify identification before approving a marriage license application.
  • Witnesses – If you’ve gone through the process of obtaining your marriage license, whether you’ve done that a few days in advance or not, you’ll need witnesses to sign your license. In some cases the county clerk can serve as your witness. If you’re getting hitched at the courthouse after obtaining your license, the county clerk may also serve as the authorized person performing the marriage as well. Again, you’ll want to check with the local county clerk’s office to learn what their requirements are. 
  • Turning in your license – If you choose to get your license and head home for a more intimate ceremony, just make sure you follow your state’s guidelines for officiants and witnesses – if your officiant is recognized, they can oversee the couple signing, as well as your witness or witnesses. They are then required to submit your signed license to the county clerk.
  • Obtaining your marriage certificate – If you complete all these steps yourself in person, you will usually have the option of picking up your signed marriage certificate yourself. You’ll be able to get copies of your marriage certificate from the county clerk. If not, you’ll need to order one from the county clerk or through online ordering services like VitalChek.com.

While courthouse weddings may seem abrupt and less personal, sometimes going through the legal process in advance of a party can be a really great thing. After all, celebrating with friends and loved ones is what really matters! 

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