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Marriage Requirements

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The Marriage License Laws for a man and a woman to marry vary from state to state. Although there are differences between the requirements in the various states, a marriage between a man and a woman performed in one state must be recognized by every other state under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

Some requirements set by state law may include:


  • A marriage license issued by the county clerk or clerk of the court (along with payment of a fee). To receive a certificate immediatly after the ceremony the Register of Deeds requires $15 in advance for preprocessing of the certificate.  Without the advance payment they will not send you a certificate until all paperwork has been received and processed. THis is expecially important for Military families, and individuals waiting to be placed on their spouses insurance.


  • Both man and woman are 18 or older, or have the consent of a parent or a judge if younger.
  • Many states have done away with mandatory premarital physical exams or blood tests. Some states still require for venereal diseases, and a few also test for rubella (also known as German Measles, a disease that is very dangerous to fetuses), tuberculosis, and sickle-cell anemia. 
  • Proof of the termination of any prior marriages by death, judgment of dissolution (divorce) or annulment. 
  • Blood test for venereal disease.


  • Due to the rise in HIV and AIDS, many states now require that parties applying for a marital license must be offered an HIV test and/or must be provided with information on AIDS and tests available. Presently, no states requires a mandatory premarital HIV/AIDS test.


  • Satisfaction of a waiting period from the time the marriage license is issued to the time the marriage ceremony is performed. (Minnesota only)


  • Performance of a marriage ceremony with witnesses and a person recognized by the state to have the authority to perform marriage ceremony (such as a priest, rabbi or a judge).


  • A religious ceremony should be conducted under the customs of the religion, or, in the case of a Native American group, under the customs of the tribe. Religious ceremonies normally are conducted by religious officials, such as ministers, priests, or rabbis. Native American ceremonies may be presided over by a tribal chief or other designated official.


  • Civil ceremonies usually are conducted by judges. In some states, county clerks or other government officials may conduct civil ceremonies. Contrary to some popular legends, no state authorizes ship captains to perform marriages.


  • Most states require two witnesses to sign the marriage certificate.


  • Recording of the marriage license after marriage ceremony is performed.


  • The person who performs the marriage ceremony has a duty to send a copy of the marriage certificate to the county or state agency that records marriage certificates. Failure to send the marriage certificate to the appropriate agency does not necessarily nullify the marriage, but it may make proof of the marriage more difficult.


  • Most states consider a couple to be married when the ceremony ends. Lack of subsequent sexual relations does not automatically affect the validity of the marriage, although in some states non-consummation could be a basis for having the marriage annulled.


It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.