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 getting a marriage license; here is a summary of the most common requirements. As always, double check your particular state's laws, as the requirements may change.
A Blood Test
Only one state requires couples intending to get married to get a blood test as one of their marriage license requirements: Montana (PDF). Why? The rationale is that premarital blood tests help check a partner for diseases. This is an almost obsolete requirement, but it still exists in the state of Montana. Female applicants under the age of 50 must submit to a blood test for rubella (measles).
A Waiting Period after Applying to Get Married
Some states require a waiting period after applying for a marriage license but before receiving the license to ensure that couples have time to really think things out and be certain that they're making "the right decision." No spur of the moment, Elvis weddings for couples in these states.
Here is a list of common waiting periods, and the states that have them.
1 day: South Carolina
3 days: Alaska, District of Columbia, Florida (unless couple attends a marriage preparation class), Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington
5 days: Minnesota
6 days: Wisconsin
A Waiting Period After Receiving a Marriage License
In addition to the above waiting period, some states include as one of their marriage license requirements a waiting period between the time you receive your marriage license and the time you can actually, legally, get married. Most states allow you to get married immediately, but here are the ones that don't and how long you have to wait.
1 day: Delaware, Illinois, New York
2 days: Maryland
3 days: Iowa, Louisiana, Texas
How Long Until Your Marriage License Expires
Once you've received your marriage license, it is only valid for a certain amount of time. Here's how long you have before your license expires and you have to reapply for another.
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, 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 to Understange Marriage License Requirements
No matter how excited you are to plan the big day and invite all your friends, it won't matter if you and/or your partner don't meet your state's marriage license requirements. And even if you've already received a valid marriage license, for example, it could expire before your planned wedding date. For these reasons, it may be a good idea to consult with a local family law attorney to make sure you're in compliance with the marriage license requirements in your state.