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Getting Married - The Legal Requirements

Posted by Anonymous

There is so much to think about when you are planning a wedding. Finding the right dress, the perfect location and planning the menu probably spring to mind immediately. However, there are also some important legal issues that engaged couples should be aware of and must address while planning their wedding.


Getting a Marriage License


In order to get married, a couple must meet the state requirements for obtaining a marriage license in the state in which the wedding will take place. For example, if the couple is getting married in Las Vegas, Nevada but resides in California then the marriage laws of Nevada apply to the couple's wedding. Every state in the union recognizes the valid marriage of a couple that occurred in another state.

Every state has slightly different rules concerning marriage. In most states the couple should go to the city or county clerk's office to obtain their marriage license.

Most states require that:

  • Both spouses have the mental capacity to enter marriage and that they are doing so without coercion and of their own free will;

  • Both spouses are of legal age to marry. Most states allow people to marry at age 18. Some states allow people to marry at age 16 or 17 with parental consent;

  • Both spouses are not legally married already;

  • The spouses are not close blood relatives (although a few states will allow cousins to marry); and

  • You pay a small fee.

Some states also require:

  • That both spouses have blood tests for certain diseases prior to getting married;

  • Proof of vaccination or immunity to certain diseases;

  • That the spouses obtain their marriage license at least three days prior to the wedding ceremony so that they have time to reflect on the commitment that they are making.

The Wedding Ceremony


All states allow couples the choice between a civil and a religious wedding ceremony. However, couples must be sure that whoever is officiating at the wedding is recognized by the state as having the power to marry people. In some states it is possible to have a friend or relative receive special permission by the county or state to have the authority to perform a marriage. However, if you are not being married by a justice of the peace, a judge or an ordained religious leader such as a minister, a priest or a rabbi then you should call your county clerk's office and make sure that you understand all of the rules so that your wedding is valid. Most states also require witnesses to be present at the time of the wedding.


International Weddings


The rules for international weddings vary depending on your destination. Most international weddings are honored in the United States. However, if you are getting married in a country other than the United States then it is important for you to speak with the county clerk where you reside and with officials in the foreign country to determine exactly what you need to do to be validly married and for that marriage to be recognized in the United States.


In order to make your wedding as stress free as possible it is important to make sure that all of the necessary legal steps are completed prior to your wedding day. 



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