☐ Get your marriage license.
The requirements for getting a marriage license varies from state to state. To be legally married, states generally require you and your soon-to-be to apply for a license in advance. You may want to research the requirements and apply early, as not all states may be able to provide same day service.
After you have the license, at your wedding ceremony, an official officiant will sign the license, with witnesses, and then return the signed license to your state or county recorder’s office. Once the signed license is filed, a marriage certificate will be issued.
☐ Sign written agreements with your wedding vendors.
Weddings are often large, complex events with many people involved, including venue managers, caterers, bartenders, photographers, videographers, musicians or DJs, and others. It is highly recommended to work out all of the details for your vendors in advance. For example, they likely want to know when they can access the venue to begin setting up. Other considerations that may come up include: What time the reception starts and ends? When does the band or DJ start performing, and for how long? How many breaks do they get? How much food are the caterers bringing? The list can go on.
By planning ahead and making these issues clear with your vendors, you have a much better chance of avoiding problems on the big day. Putting the details in writing provides some assurance that the event will run smoothly, and you will be able to focus on yourself, your spouse, and your other loved ones on the big day.
You might want to review the following agreements for your wedding, and consider asking your vendors to use agreements that you prepare if their agreements do not include enough details:
- Wedding Planner Agreement.
- Catering Contract.
- DJ Contract.
- Limousine Service Contract.
- Venue Rental Agreement.
- Photography Contract.
- Videography Contract.
- General Contract for Services.
☐ Consider creating a Prenuptial Agreement.
A Prenuptial Agreement is a contract between you and your future spouse that can address a wide range of issues. Many people tend to think of a Prenuptial Agreement as advance planning for a divorce; as a result, they avoid even talking about one. It might not be the most romantic topic as you get ready to get married, but it can be very important.
A Prenuptial Agreement serves more purposes than just planning for divorce. Each of you owns property that you will bring into the marriage. Most states consider this your separate property. Most assets that you acquire during the marriage will be either marital property or community property. There is a difference between marital and community property, but it is not important for this topic. One or both of you might have assets, such as ownership of a business, that you want to keep separate from the marriage. You might have assets that you want to keep separate for the benefit of a child or children from a previous relationship. You might want to protect your future spouse from being liable for your debts.
The following steps can help you navigate the process of talking about a Prenuptial Agreement:
- Plan a time to have a serious discussion about finances at least a few months before the wedding, if not more.
- Find out the requirements for a valid Prenuptial Agreement and review some tips for talking to your spouse about this important document.
- Prepare a list of your all your assets, debts, and liabilities, listing specifically what you would like to include in the prenup.
- During the serious financial conversation, ask your spouse-to-be to agree to make a Prenuptial Agreement and explain why it is important to you to keep those listed assets separately.
- Make your Prenuptial Agreement together. Rocket Lawyer documents can be easily customized so you and your soon-to-be spouse can make the document together.
- Review and sign your prenup. After making the document, you may want to review it with a lawyer, as well as ask about your state’s requirements for it to be signed legally.
☐ Consider your current and future insurance needs.
In general, your insurance needs may change after you are married. Before you get to that point, you still have a wedding to plan. A big event like a wedding comes with some big risks. For example, someone might trip and fall, especially with an open bar. Liability insurance can protect you from claims for injuries at the event. The venue owner might be able to tell you more about liability coverage, and may even require you to purchase insurance for your wedding.
Married couples can purchase joint insurance policies for their cars, home, healthcare, and more, which can have immediate benefits. For example, you might be able to save money by combining auto insurance policies. If one of you has better health insurance through work, the other might be able to join that policy as the employee’s spouse. You may be required to notify your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance provider that you have gotten married.
The following steps can help you sort out any insurance concerns that you might have:
- Purchase event insurance if required for your wedding reception.
- Combine car and homeowner’s and renter’s insurance with your new spouse after the wedding.
- Update your life and health insurance with a Change of Beneficiary Letter after the wedding.
☐ Fulfill name change requirements and notify essential providers of your changed name.
Changing one’s name after getting married is entirely optional, but many people choose to do so. Your state’s laws may only require your marriage certificate and filing a form, while others require you to get a court order for all name changes, including after marriage.
Once you have official documentation of your name change, it’s time to notify other interested parties. Consider the following steps:
- Change your name on your wedding license and notify the appropriate parties once you’ve received the marriage certificate, which serves as your proof of legal name change.
- Obtain new identification (Social Security card, driver’s license, passport).
- Notify relevant institutions of your name change with a Name Change Notification Letter (banks, credit cards, insurance companies).
☐ Create or update an estate plan.
Marriage is likely to change your estate planning needs. If you already have a Will, trust, or other estate planning documents in place, you might want to update them to make sure your estate plan provides for your new spouse. To jumpstart your estate planning process, fill out an Estate Planning Worksheet for Married People.
Estate planning is about more than just what happens to your assets when you die. It can also cover issues that affect you while you are alive, like who may make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. With a Power of Attorney, you can appoint your spouse as your representative if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This can include both financial and medical decisions.
Your wedding day is likely to be one of the happiest days of your life. From there, you and your spouse may have many more days of joy, but you may also experience difficulties. It is never too early to begin planning so that you are ready for the difficult parts.
If you have more questions about how getting married may change your finances or rights, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.