marriage license

There's nothing like that glorious feeling of making it official. 

Marriages that take place outside of the United States are recognized in the United States as legal marriages. Couples getting married outside of the United States need to do their homework on what is required to make this happen legally.

  • In most countries, you must be in that country for 24 hours before the ceremony can be performed.

  • Sometimes blood tests are required.

  • Both parties’ birth certificates which must include the father’s name or information substantiating same

  • Official photo identification such as a passport or driver’s license

  • Occupations of bride and groom

  • If either party was married before, certified final divorce papers or death certificate of deceased spouse

  • The relevant fees

  • Once the ceremony is performed, the marriage officer will present the bride with the signed marriage license.  With that document, an official marriage certificate can be obtained through the Registrar General’s Department online service at the Registrar General’s Office in that country.


Marriages that take place within the United States, specifically in Texas, must adhere to the below requirements:

  • Issuing a marriage license is the duty of the County Clerk and can be obtained in any county in Texas.

  • A marriage license issued in Texas is valid for a wedding ceremony held in any Texas county.

  • Minimum Age: 16. Applicants under the age of 18 must have a certified copy of their (long form) birth certificate issued in the last 10 years as well as court-emancipated documents.

  • Waiting Period: 72 hours. However, there is a 30-day waiting period after a divorce is granted within the state of Texas. Meaning, you cannot get your marriage license on Friday and get married on Saturday. The only exception being if you or your fiance are active military, then the waiting period is removed.

  • License Fees: Texas marriage license fee varies by county and is required at the time of application. Search your county clerk web page for the fee's associated within your county and whether or not they accept cash, check or card. You can find your specific counties information here. **Did you know that if you took a state accredited premarital class, that you can save a ton on your license!

  • License Validity Time: 90 Days, so don't jump the gun and try to get your license more than 90 days before your wedding date, as it will no longer be any good.

  • Both parties must appear in person.

  • Submit proof of identity and age. A valid drivers license or passport will suffice. In the state of Texas you do not have to take your Birth Certificate. 

  • Must know Social Security number.

  • Must know city, county, and state where you were born.

  • Effective September 1, 2013 – A person who is incarcerated may not apply for a marriage license.

At your wedding, the officiant signs the license to ensure its validity; if you can, get this taken care of before the ceremony, since things get very hectic afterward. Some officiants will not sign until the ceremony has taken place. In the state of Texas, witnesses are not required to sign by Texas State Law.

You have 2 options to get your marriage license back to the County Clerks office so it can be filed with the state. Either option you choose must be done in 30 days.

  1. Your officiant can mail it back for you, in which case, he would need to fold it in thirds, so if you plan on framing it, know it will have lines creased through it. If your officiant requires that they send it in, which some do, and you do not want creases, simply ask the officiant to take it in person so you can frame it afterwards. Also ask him to please request 3 certified copies for you, you'll be glad you have these later!

  2. You or a trusted person (mother, father, etc) can hand deliver it to the county clerks office, in which case, it would not have any creases.

Once your Marriage License is left with the county clerk, your Marriage Certificate will be mailed to you in a few weeks. Have this person also request certified copies for you.

Prenuptial Agreements

Very few people find anything romantic about a prenuptial agreement, also knows as a premarital or antenuptial agreements. Just bringing up the topic can hit on so many nerves, including issues of trust, control and sharing. But approach the conversation thoughtfully and you'll learn more about each other and gain a better idea of how your marriage will work.

What a prenup does is cover how property will be divvied up in case of divorce or if one spouse should die. It overrides state laws governing division of property, letting you craft a scenario that works for you. And should one spouse die, a prenup can protect inheritances better than a will. In the past, prenups weren't enforced regularly by courts, but now they're recognized by every state and continue to gain footing as a legally binding agreement.

Who needs a prenup?

Celebrities and the superwealthy are most closely identified with prenups, but there are several sound reasons why more ordinary couples should consider one:

  • To protect assets for children from previous marriage. Otherwise, a spouse could be awarded everything if the parent dies. 

  • If you have real estate, substantial investments, or a trust fund that you want to keep separate from the marital property. 

  • If you own all or party of a family business.

  • To keep antiques or jewelry in the family.

  • If you're responsible for the care of elderly parents or another relative.

What's in a prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, in which both parties list all their assets and sources of income, is drawn up by an attorney specializing in family law. Essentially designed to specify what will become marital property and what will remain separate, the agreement may state whether either of you will get alimony in the event of a divorce. If the spouses are of different nationalities, a prenup can describe which jurisdiction will govern the divorce. (In some countries, the laws are unfavorable to women, especially if they're not citizens.)

Some couples use the prenup to lay out the ground rules of their marriage, from who will clean the cat's liter box to whether the woman will work after having children. Although there's nothing to stop you from including this type of lifestyle information, I think you should stick with financial matters. And limit the scope of the prenup to major items - don't get into who keeps the wide-screen TV. Including lifestyle choices or minutiae can adversely affect how a judge views your prenup. 

Interested in premarital classes? Check out our preferred vendors list.

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