Wedding planning comes with an extensive checklist of things to do and one of the most daunting tasks of them all is to get that marriage license! Yes, it’s a simple piece of paperwork, but it’s the single most important document that legally states your marriage and in order for your marriage to be considered in Texas, you’ll need to obtain a license. Timing is important here, and there’s a few things you need to know, and you’ll need to bring in order to acquire. Not sure where to start? Here’s what you need to know before you go, and then it’s one more item you can check off your to-do list!
MARRIAGE LAW + REQUIREMENTS IN TEXAS
A marriage license can be obtained in any county in Texas and is issued by the County Clerk.
Even if you get it from a different county than where your ceremony is, it still valid.
Applicants under the age of 18 must have a certified copy of their birth certificate.
The 72 hour waiting period: You must wait 72 hours after obtaining the marriage license, unless you are active duty military or employed by the US Department of Defense, have a waiver from the district judge, or possess a certification that you have completed a pre-marital counseling course.
Texas marriage license fee varies by county and is required at time of application; most are now requiring cash only.
It is only valid for 89 days from the date of issue and must be returned before the 90th day.
Residency and blood tests are not required.
WHEN + WHERE TO GO
Once you have your wedding date set, research your county’s waiting period and expiration window for marriage licenses.. In an ideal world, you would want to file for your marriage license as soon as possible, but you don’t want to get it too early in which it expires before your wedding. Head to your county clerk at least 72 hours before your ceremony, but no more than 90 days beforehand. Say your wedding is April 1st, you have to get it before the 29th of March, but no sooner than January 1. Texas marriage licenses expire if the ceremony isn’t performed within 90 days of obtaining them. Check with your nearest county clerk’s office to verify their hours of operation before you go, and ask to see if there are certain times and days of the week that are better in regard to wait times or appointments. When it’s your turn, you’ll appear before the clerk, answer a few brief questions and you are right on your way to the altar.
WHAT DO I BRING?
Before you jump in the car and head to your local county clerk, keep in mind that the following information is required.
Both parties must appear in person.
Both parties must be at least 18 years of age.
Both parties must submit proof of identity and age.
Both parties must know their Social Security number; they do not have to bring their social security card.
Both parties must know the city, county, and state where you were born.
Valid Form of ID: You and your fiance will need to each bring in your driver’s license, state ID card, passport, certificate copy of birth certificate with valid photo ID, visa, or military ID. Payment: Marriage license fees can vary by counties in Texas, but typically the cost is between $70 & $90 and it’s a good idea to bring cash with you. If you or your fiance are not Texas residents, you’ll want to bring an additional $100. It may be a good decision to check with your nearest county clerk office to verify fees and forms of payment accepted prior to going in. Here is a fun fact! If you and your fiance have completed a pre-marital counseling/education course that meets the Twogether in Texas requirements, bring in your completion certificate for a discount off your marriage license fee (sometimes as much as $60 off!) and you don't have abide by the 72 hour waiting period.
IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW, NOW YOU KNOW.
There’s a few things to keep in mind when researching and applying for your Texas marriage license.
The location of your wedding does not matter - Texas residents can get a marriage license from any county in the state. If you are getting married in a different state or having a destination wedding, you’ll want to reach out to that particular state/country to see what their wedding requirements are.
Much to most couple’s surprise, you do not need to bring a witness to obtain a marriage license and in the great state of Texas, you are not required to have a witness at your ceremony! The witness signature is optional, so you may send your Maid of Honor or Best Man to the bar instead.
You do not have to be a resident of Texas. You are not required to have a blood test or medical examinations. You can’t marry your cousin.
The state of Texas requires a 30-day waiting period if either applicant has been recently divorced.
Getting a marriage license with your new name on it doesn’t mean that your name has automatically been changed. You can check out the online marriage name change kit to start the process! (Pop the Champagne - I'm Changing My Last Name!)
Once you receive your marriage license, it’s a wise decision to give it to your officiant for safekeeping until your big day. After your ceremony, allow your officiant to also take it with them and give them the responsibility of sending it in.
Marriage license requirements are always subject to change, so as you get closer to your wedding date it is always best to double-check with your County Clerk’s office to verify information, documents and fees needed to obtain your license.
WHY GET A MARRIAGE LICENSE?
Most are determined to make it official - you have found your person, you have decided to have the wedding of your dreams to showcase your love and want that piece of paper that proves that you are married. You can have a wedding, and you can say your vows, but without a marriage license, you are not legally married. Besides the obvious fact that you want to be married to the love of your life, there are benefits to having a legal union that’s recognized by the state and by the government. Couples need to be legally married to have the option to receive tax breaks when filing jointly, share health care policies, pool insurance policies and to set each other up as beneficiaries for federal benefits. I DO! BUT THEN WHAT DO I DO? You must have a licensed or an ordained friend, family member, minister, priest, rabbi, judge or justice of the peace perform your ceremony. They’ll need to meet the requirements just as much as you and your fiance do for the marriage license. Additional wedding witnesses aren’t required in Texas. Whoever performs your ceremony needs to sign and date your license after the ceremony and they’ll return the original copy to the county clerk’s office from where it was issued, but no more than 30 days after the wedding. After it’s officially recorded, you’ll receive your license back within 1-4 weeks. ...And then it's official! Congrats! You did it!