Marriage License Laws
The Marriage License Laws for a man and a woman to marry vary from state to
Although there are differences between the requirements in the various states,
a marriage between a man and a woman performed in one state must be recognized by every other state
under the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the United States Constitution.
Some requirements set by state law can include:
1. A marriage license issued by the county clerk or clerk of the court (along with payment of a fee).
2. Both man and woman are 18 or older, or have the consent of a parent or a judge if younger.
3. Proof of immunity or vaccination for certain diseases.
* Many states have done away with mandatory premarital physical exams or blood tests.
Some states still require for venereal diseases, and a few also test for rubella
(also known as German Measles, a disease that is very dangerous to fetuses),
tuberculosis, and sickle-cell anemia.
4. Proof of the termination of any prior marriages by death,
judgment of dissolution (divorce) or annulment.
* Where there is a valid marriage, termination of marital status is obtained
through a dissolution or divorce lawsuit,
which results in a judgment that returns both the man and the woman
to the status of an unmarried (single) persons.
5. Sufficient mental capacity (often this is determined as the ability to enter into a contract).
* Marriage requires two consenting people.
If either person cannot or does not understand what it means to be married
(due to mental illness, drugs, alcohol, or other factors affecting judgment),
then that person does not have the capacity to consent and the marriage is not valid.
6. The couple are not close blood relatives.
* Close blood relatives cannot marry, although in some states, first cousins can marry.
Of the states that allow first cousins to marry, a few also require that one of the cousins
no longer be able to conceive children.
7. Blood test for venereal disease.
* Due to the rise in HIV and AIDS, many states now require that parties applying
for a marital license must be offered an HIV test and/or
must be provided with information on AIDS and tests available.
Presently, no states requires a mandatory premarital HIV/AIDS test.
8. Satisfaction of a waiting period from the time the marriage license is issued
to the time the marriage ceremony is performed.
* Most, but not all, states require a waiting period, generally one to five days,
between the time the license is issued and the time of the marriage ceremony.
The purpose of the waiting period is to give a short time to cool-off,
during which the parties can change their minds if they wish.
The waiting period can be waived for good reason.
For example, if the groom is arriving in the bride's town only one day before the wedding,
but the state has a three-day waiting period,
the waiting period probably can be waived by a judge or clerk of court.
9. Performance of a marriage ceremony with witnesses and a person
recognized by the state to have the authority to perform marriage ceremony
(such as a priest, minister, rabbi or judge).
* A religious ceremony should be conducted under the customs of the religion,
or, in the case of a Native American group, under the customs of the tribe.
Religious ceremonies normally are conducted by religious officials, such as ministers, priests, or rabbis.
Native American ceremonies may be presided over by a tribal chief or other designated official.
10. Recording of the marriage license after marriage ceremony is performed.
* The person who performs the marriage ceremony has a duty to send a copy of the marriage certificate
to the county or state agency that records marriage certificates.
Failure to send the marriage certificate to the appropriate agency does not
necessarily nullify the marriage, but it may make proof of the marriage more difficult.
11. A marriage performed in another jurisdiction -- even overseas -- is usually valid in any state,
as long as the marriage was legal in the jurisdiction where it occurred.
State and county marriage license requirements often change.
The information provided here is for guidance only, and should not be regarded as legal advice.
It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office
or county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.