How to Get Your Marriage License

Cake, dress, venue, photography, flowers, DJ, transportation…

Everything seems to be in place for the big day. But do you have the one thing you need to actually make your marriage official?

In the middle of all the exciting details to plan, it’s easy to forget about that piece of paper that makes you legally married. A marriage license is the legal confirmation you need to prove that you and your partner are free to marry one another.

How to Apply for a Marriage License

So, how do you start this process?

First, you need to obtain the license in the state in which your ceremony will take place. Once you determine in which municipality you will be married, you’ll need to figure out where you can obtain the license. Many states have different rules for obtaining a marriage license. Check out USMarriageLaws.com to view information on each state.

  • If you’re getting married in Iowa, you can apply for a marriage license at the county registrar or recorder’s office in your county.

Then, you need to be aware of your timing. There is a waiting period between when the application is approved and when your nuptials can take place. Some states require a waiting period of several days, so look into the marriage laws early!

  • In Iowa, the marriage license becomes valid 4 days after the day the marriage license is computed. (Weekend days are included in the count.) So if the application is approved on a Monday, your license will be valid by Friday of that week. 

In some cases, marriage licenses are only valid for a certain amount of time for when you can have your ceremony, sign the paperwork and file for a certified license and marriage certificate.

  • In Iowa, the license only expires if it is not retrieved from the County Registrar within 6 months from the date of application.

Requirements for approval vary by state. Basically, you need to show proper identification, that you’re not currently married to anyone else and that you’re of the legal age to marry.

  • In Iowa, the process is fairly easy. The couple and one witness (18 years or older) must come into the office and fill out the application. The applicants and witness must have a photo I.D., and pay a $35 fee. The registrar can also mail you an application or you can print it out. The form must be completed and signed before an authorized notary public.

Getting your marriage license really is pretty simple, but the boring idea of extra paperwork makes couples put it off all too often. Don’t let this necessary detail become a huge stressor right before the wedding! Learn your state’s requirements early and take care of it.

Then of course, don’t forget to bring the form to your ceremony :)

Happy planning!