Wedding traditions have passed down from generation to generation, and many people begin planning their “dream weddings” from the time that they are children. As such, it can be easy to get carried away with the process of planning a wedding ceremony for friends and family, and forget about the legal aspect of marriage – the part that involves planning and government documentation.
Legal marriage has numerous official purposes, including tax collection and other financial matters, and thus it is necessary to make sure that your legal status is officially married. Take a look at these five steps to take in order to make your marriage valid (especially the process of booking an officiant as outlined in Step 4).
- Apply for a Marriage License
Different states have different rules and regulations regarding marriage, but the general concept is the same: you should visit your County Clerk’s office (or the county website, as many forms are now available online) and fill out a marriage application. You will have to enter information for yourself and your spouse, so have that ready!
- Pick up Your Marriage License in Person.
You cannot have the license mailed to you – you must visit the office in person, along with your spouse (both must be present for the license to be valid). Bring a valid photo I.D. such as a driver’s license (and check to make sure that it is not expired).
- Pay the License Fee.
This varies from state to state and county to county, but you will have to pay to activate your license. It will be valid for a period of time (usually 90 days) from the time it is issued, giving you a window of time in which to hold the ceremony.
- Find an Officiant.
An officiant is the person that will preside over your wedding ceremony and has legal authority to marry couples. You should first decide whether you would like a secular or religious officiant, as you want to find someone who fits your belief system and the tone of your wedding. Secular options include a justice of the peace, whom you can contact when you book your wedding license, or a county clerk, whom you can find through the same process. A religious officiant such as a priest or rabbi can be found through your local religious organization.
- Get married!
You will need to have your officiant present to conduct your ceremony, as well as one witness. The rest is simple fun!