Like many other events in people’s lives, marriage also requires a legal document that proves it. In the United States, newly-weds receive a marriage certificate once they get married. They keep the document for personal record and can use it in many different cases related to insurance, bank transactions, tax payments, and other matters.
It is a simple document that has only one page and states the most important info about a particular marriage: the parties (who got married), the date and place of marriage, the minister or officiant (or the one who married), and the witness (or witnesses).
However, there is a document that comes prior to the marriage certificate: a marriage license. So, how are these two different in a legal sense?
The key difference is that the license is issued to a couple when they apply to get married. This document is with them until they enter matrimony and, in turn, obtain the certificate issued by the local public authorities (of the county where newly-weds reside).
Your license should be signed by your minister during the wedding ceremony. Then, the minister brings it to the authorities, and they release a certificate instead.
Because your couple has to be officially registered in the county’s office, it may take a couple of weeks before you actually get the certificate. In some US counties and localities, the license becomes a certificate immediately when you get married; however, you still should turn to the local authority to get a new copy.
You have to make an appointment with your county clerk and provide specific documents. The set of documents and its contents depend on the county you reside in. Usually, you need an ID like a driving license or a birth certificate.
If you are a minor willing to get married, remember to come with one of your parents to get their approval. If you have been married before, you must bring papers proving your divorce or your previous partner’s death.
You will have to give various details about your parents. Besides, in some American states, you should ask someone to be your witness when you apply for the license.
Lastly, you will need to cover a fee set by your state and county.
After you get married, as you already know, your license will turn into a certificate. Let’s find out more about the certificate and its content — you may check our informative guide below.
If you are wondering what is included in a marriage certificate, trust us, it is a document anyone can create with ease. We offer a Blank Marriage Certificate guide and template that every minister can use; besides, people who plan to get married soon can also read our quick guide to understand how their certificate will look like when they get it.
Before we start, use our form-building software to download a Blank Marriage Certificate. You can either type details in with your laptop or PC or print the file and insert all items by hand. You and witnesses still have to sign the form, so it has to be printed out anyway.
Enter the Parties’ Names
The certificate begins with stating who is getting married. Enter full names of both partners in the designated spaces.
Put the Marriage Commencement Date
Then, you should indicate the date when the marriage is taking place. Write the day, month, and year where demanded.
Insert Your Location
Below the date, write the place: city or town and state.
Sign the Certificate
As a minister, you have to sign the certificate and insert your full name, too (so that the county office clerk can identify you).
Pass the Certificate to the Witnesses
Witnesses also have to sign the document and provide their names. This template presumes there will be two witnesses. In some cases, only one witness can sign the form.
Check your state requirements to understand what is your following step. Typically, you should transfer the certificate to the county office and get it approved. After this, the couple will receive their document, sealed and signed by the authority.
If you are a wife or husband trying to get another copy of the certificate, you might need to cover a certain fee. Again, check the rules and consult with your county clerk.