No marriage is official without the Marriage License. It is traditionally the groom’s responsibility to have all legal documents paid for and ready to sign when the wedding day arrives.

Be sure to set up a time for you and your bride to obtain and pay for the marriage license together. You will want to do your research and familiarize yourself with your state’s Marriage Laws, as many states require you to get the license in the county where your ceremony will take place. The securement of your marriage license should be taken care of at least a week in advance of your wedding day, as some states will have a waiting period as well. Waiting periods generally last anywhere from one to five days between the time the license is issued and the time of the marriage ceremony.

In most states, both you and your fiancee must apply in person at the county clerk or clerk of court’s offices to fill out appropriate forms. Many states have a waiting period after the license is issued. You will both most likely be required to provide a document showing proof of legal age. License fees vary from state to state.

Some states require blood tests before a marriage license will be issued. If this is a requirement, they must not be more than one month old. Other states might require proof of immunity or vaccination for certain diseases. Also, if either party has been previously married, proof of dissolution of marriage will also be required.

If you choose to have a civil union or a secular ceremony, you will want to verify beforehand what types of wedding officiants are acceptable by state law. Most marriage licenses will need to be signed by the officiant, the bride and groom, and two witnesses.

After your marriage ceremony has been performed, it is usually the wedding officiant’s responsibility to send a copy of the signed certificate to the appropriate county or state agency. This is an important step – if your marriage is not recorded appropriately, it will make future proof of marriage difficult.

If you choose to have your wedding ceremony overseas, most states will recognize it as a legal union, so long as you have followed the laws of whichever country you wed in.

Because marriage license requirements change periodically from state to state, it is important that you check with the appropriate departments before your wedding day to have the most up-to-date marriage laws.