Getting wedding-ready often takes a lot of planning. In the hustle of choosing a florist, photographer, or cake-baker, don't forget the most important legal step—applying for your marriage license. A marriage license basically gives you legal permission to get married. Without one, your state government won't issue you a marriage certificate after the ceremony, which is the document that acts as the legal proof of your marriage. Here's how to get a marriage license before you tie the knot.

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1. Research the Requirements in Your State 

It used to be common practice for couples to have to get blood tests and medical exams before they got married or even got their marriage licenses. Nowadays, most states don’t require it. Still, you shouldn’t assume that your state has overturned it. Indiana recently removed the requirement, but states like Montana and Mississippi still have it on the books. You can find all of the preliminary requirements, along with the applicable forms, either on the state website or at your local courthouse.

2. Provide Proof of Identity, Complete the Application, and Pay Any Fees

When you go to the courthouse to complete your application, the majority of the states require you to provide proof of your identity. Acceptable proof of identity is any form of current government issued photo identification, like a driver’s license or a passport. Some states, like Indiana, also require a birth certificate to verify your place of birth.

Some states offer an online application, but you still need to provide proof of your identity at the courthouse when you pick up the paperwork. You may also be required to have the application notarized. Also note that there’s generally a filing fee of between $15 and $35.

3. Double Check Spellings and Dates Before Filing

Finally, remember always to make sure that the spelling and the dates on the marriage license application are correct. Your license will be invalid if you misspell the names. Fortunately, this does not nullify your marriage, but you will have to re-file the paperwork within 30-60 days of discovering the error.

Get started Ask a Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one day.

Get started Ask a Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one day.