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: Blood Tests
Only one state, Montana, still requires a blood test for a marriage license; other states have eliminated the requirement that couples be tested for certain diseases before they marry. In Montana, female applicants between the ages of 18 and 50 must have a blood test to determine whether they have immunity from rubella (also called German measles), unless both partners sign an informed-consent form waiving the blood test requirement.
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 wedding for couples in these states, as 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, New York, South Carolina
- 2 days: Maryland
- 3 days: Alaska, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington
- 5 days: Wisconsin
Optional Step: Marriage Preparation Classes
To promote healthy marriages, a number of states will discount the marriage license fee if a couple completes a premarital preparation program that teaches 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.
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.
- 10 days: Oklahoma
- 30 days: Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin
- 35 days: Colorado
- 60 days: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
- 90 days: Alaska, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas
- 6 months: Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey
- 1 year: Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming
- Other: Connecticut (65 days), Michigan (33 days), South Dakota (20 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.