Marriage Certificates and Licenses: Everything You Need to Know

Marriage Certificates and Licenses: Everything You Need to Know

While the ceremony and reception are the most memorable aspects of a wedding, the signing of the marriage license is the most vital portion if you want it to be legitimate. This paperwork officially joins the two of you together, and it's especially important if you want to change your name. Getting a marriage license and, later, a marriage certificate, is a multi-step procedure.

What Is a Marriage License?

A marriage license is a legal document that a couple obtains before marrying. A marriage certificate is issued once the license is signed (during or after your ceremony) and returned to the county by an officiant.

What makes a marriage license different from a marriage certificate? The first step is to obtain a marriage license, which is essentially an application to marry. You will receive a marriage certificate once you have completed it, had your ceremony, had it signed, and your officiant has returned it to the county. "The marriage certificate is a certified document that the married couple will get after the ceremony," explains D. Bruce Hanes, Esq., Montgomery County Register of Wills, Clerk of Orphans' Court.