The Marriage License
Congratulations on your decision to marry! In order to get married, you need to have a valid marriage license. The rules, regulations and requirements for obtaining your marriage license vary by state so you should check with your local registrar to get the requirements for your particular jurisdiction.
Most states allow a validity between 30 and 60 days, some states offer a longer validity. I recommend obtaining your marriage license 2 to 3 weeks before the ceremony and when applying for the marriage license, it is a must that both parties appear together. Your marriage license does not in any way prove that you are married.
I CAN’T marry you without a valid marriage license.
If you’re already married and would like me to perform a public ceremony for your family and friends, I’ll need to see your Certified Marriage Certificate.
The Marriage Certificate
After the ceremony, I’ll submit your completed marriage license to the appropriate registrar’s office to be verified and processed into the public records.
It’s your responsibility to obtain a copy of your Certified Marriage Certificate. Some states, like New York, no additional steps are required, once I submit your license and its processed, they send you a copy of your Certified Marriage Certificate. And there are other states like New Jersey, where an additional step (on your part) is required to receive your Certificate Marriage Certificate.
I will provide you with all the necessary information and follow up to make sure that you’ve received your Certified Marriage Certificate, but it’s your responsibility to obtain this very important document for your personal records.
I highly recommend getting two original copies of your certified marriage certificate as this is an important document so getting an extra certified copy is a good idea.
For Couples Marrying in New York City
After the wedding ceremony you can personally take your signed and completed marriage license back to the NYC Registrar’s office and obtain your Certified Marriage Certificate on the same day. This is particularly ideal for out of town and international couples.
For detailed information on applying for your New York City marriage licence, visit The City Clerk’s Website. Please note except in very specific circumstances, a Marriage License issued by the New York City Clerk's Office needs 24 hours to mature and expires in 60 days. This means that there must be at least 24 hours between the time you are issued your Marriage License and your ceremony, and your ceremony must take place within 60 days of when you obtained your Marriage License.
The difference between the License and the Certificate
The marriage license is the document that authorizes you to get married and the marriage certificate is the document that proves you are married.