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There are few bigger deals than saying “I do” and committing to a lifelong relationship. When it comes to a wedding, every individual has some expectations, dreams, and desires; such as size of the wedding, dress, party theme and most importantly venue of the event. Most of us want to get married close to home to ensure as many of our friends and family can attend, there’s plenty of fun to be had by tying the knot in the sin city of Vegas or party town of New Orleans. There are so many fun options for the wedding of a lifetime, but are they legal? Find out more if you are considering getting married in a state where you don't hold residency.
Contrary to popular belief, the legal work associated with the weddings is not that complicated. For any wedding held in the United States, there are some prerequisites, such as:
Obtaining a marriage license from the local county clerk (after you and your partner meet all the qualifications) so that you are authorized to get married.
Holding the wedding ceremony
Applying for the marriage certificate so that you have a legal document that proves you are married. The person who has officiated the wedding usually applies for the certificate, but that is not always the case. You can also drop off your marriage certificate at the local county office (from where you applied for the marriage license). You should be able to get your personal copy for record purposes within a week.
If you are getting married outside your home state, make sure to first obtain the marriage license from the county of the respective state of your wedding. The marriage license obtained in one county is valid in other counties within the same state. Be sure to contact the local county office to find out what preparations you need to make and how long they take so that everything can be pre-arranged.
In certain states, there are residency restrictions that may prevent you from getting married in another state. Therefore, it is highly recommended to obtain this information before making wedding arrangements.
Courthouses are the best resource to learn more about the marriage licenses and legal requirements. In addition, you can also utilize online resources (especially the state’s government websites) to learn more about the requirements and prerequisites. A good resource is http://usmarriagelaws.com, which has information regarding the essentials of marriage licensing process in every state of America.
In most states (such as Georgia), to obtain the marriage certificate, you will have to appear in person at the court, documents in hand. Keep the original as well as photocopies with you for convenience as some offices may require submission of copies for documentation purposes. Attestation of the documents is not necessary. The proof of identification such as state-issued ID or driver’s license in addition to proof of citizenship (such as birth certificate and/or passport) is mandatory. Depending on the state, the requirements for a marriage license may vary. For example, in some states (such as Mississippi, District of Columbia and Montana), it is recommended to get the blood test for venereal diseases (such as HIV/AIDS) as well as Tuberculosis, sickle cell anemia and/or rubella. A physical examination is also a requirement for marriage licenses in some states. You can obtain these documents from a local clinic or walk-in pharmacy.
Besides driver’s license (which identifies you an adult over the age of 18 years) and health documents, you may also be required to submit proof of annulment/ divorce/ death of the previous partner in case you were married before. Simply having separated from your former spouse (regardless of the duration of separation) is not enough to file for a marriage license and may result in disqualification. Those under the age of 18 may require a parent’s consent to obtain a marriage license.
Getting married out of your state is exciting, and if you have a legitimate reason, (for example preference for a certain city or if you want to hold the wedding near your parent’s home) you should go for it. However, keep yourself prepared for a few things:
Be prepared for a delay between obtaining a marriage license and holding the actual wedding.
The cost of obtaining marriage license may range from $25 - $100, with out-of-state marriages being more costly. That’s not including wedding expenditures.
A marriage license may have a time-limit or validity period. For example, according to Texas state laws, you typically have to wait a minimum of 3 days after getting marriage license to hold the ceremony. Also, the license expires after 30 days, which means you either have to re-\apply or call for extension. In Arizona, the validity period is as long as 1 year.
In certain cases, the waiting period can be waived by requesting special permission from the court. The same is true for active military personnel.
Some county offices, such as Las Vegas and Hawaii, accept only cash, so always make sure to keep some on hand.
Hopefully this information is useful to you. Good luck on your beautiful journey.