Marriage License 101

Wedding planning is one of the most exciting stages of life but it can also come with a few confusing and not so clear steps like the legal part – obtaining your marriage license. Let us start by saying, this is not legal guidance but just our best knowledge of the subject as wedding planners so it is always best to call your local government office.

First thing’s first, obtaining your marriage license is different depending on where in the world you live. For example, here in England you have to give notice of your marriage at least 28 days prior yet no longer than a year before you say ‘I do.’ Now, the actual day of your marriage is up to you… Many people still choose to get legally married at their wedding venue or the church, however it is becoming increasingly popular to get legally married at the registrar office (or courthouse), then have a celebrant on your wedding day. Having a celebrant when you could do everything on the same might sound silly but, hear us out…

Having a celebrant is an amazing option for so many reasons…

You have so much flexibility around the length and content of your ceremony.

If you get legally married on your wedding day, you are often restricted to what can or cannot be said in the ceremony (i.e. you cannot write your own vows, reference religious beliefs, etc.) We are of course big fans of making your wedding ‘yours’ in every way possible, so you can see why that strikes a chord with us. Read our guide here on how to embrace a slow morning routine writing your vows next if this sounds like you too!

Bride writing her vows, Bride on the morning of her wedding
Photography by Brian D Smith Photography

You get to meet and connect with your officiant/celebrant before the big day.

More times than not, when you have a legal ceremony on the day of your wedding you don’t know who will be officiating the ceremony. And for such an emotional and important 30 minutes to an hour, it’s preferable to have someone who you’ve built a relationship and connected with.

Photography by Kylee Yee

Way less stress!

To us, getting the legal part of your marriage license done and dusted before the big day just means you can breathe a little easier knowing it’s done.  

When thinking about the full scope of legalities surrounding making your marriage official, there are of course other rules in addition to the above. For example, in England, you have to be under a solid roof and on a solid foundation. Translation? The ceremony must take place either inside or in a permanent built structure. We don’t know about you but, we are always head over heels for garden ceremonies, which isn’t possible in Europe unless you choose the celebrant route.

Bride and Groom at Wedding Breakfast, Wedding Photography, Maunsel House Wedding
Photography by Kylee Yee

We hope you’ve found this blog post informative, insightful and above all helpful as you begin to explore the oft confusing, yet always wonderful world of marriage licenses!

We very much hope to connect soon. In the meantime, happy planning!

Alexis x

  1. I had no idea if you were signing your marriage license on your wedding day that you are limited on what you can say during the ceremony. My friend is getting married soon and is trying to figure out all the little details before the big day. I’ll have to mention to her to maybe do the license on a separate day so she can still say her vows during the ceremony.

  2. Except for the requirements, there are two types of marriage licenses in California that each applicant must choose while applying for the license. Check it here


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