How to apply for and fill out a marriage license for couples and wedding officiants

Signing the papers in a wedding ceremony.

When it comes to wedding ceremonies, there are very few elements which are mandatory. In fact, one of the greatest things about becoming a wedding officiant is how far you can personalize the ceremony to the couple’s personalities, interests and wants.

That being said, one of those official requirements, alongside a legal Declaration of Intent, is having a marriage license.

A marriage license is the legal component to the marriage – it’s a government-issued document which makes the marriage a legally binding contract, and legally, it’s no different than any other legal contract between parties. It provides the written, government record of the marriage. As such, it’s one of the most important responsibilities of the wedding officiant – so it’s important to familiarize yourself with how to fill out the license before the ceremony.

Here is everything you need to know about applying for and filling out a marriage license…

The couple apply for the marriage license

It is the couple (not the officiant) who are responsible for filing for the marriage license. Then, on the wedding day, the officiant is the one who asks for the marriage license to be presented, and signs it to make it official.

Where to file for the marriage license

It is government offices which issue marriage licenses, and as such, the specific office to apply to varies by state. You can see a full list of which office to apply to, broken down by state, here.

The officiant asks the couple to present the marriage license and fills it out on the wedding day

Now, the officiant must fill out their parts of the license. No matter how you regard yourself personally, if you are an AMM ordained minister, your title on this document will be ‘Minister’.

Fill out the church affiliation

If you were ordained by AMM, then this is where you write American Marriage Ministries

Fill out the religious denomination

If you’re ordained by AMM, here you write ‘Non-Denominational’ – although there are separate ways to specify if the marriage was conducted with a specific denominational rite. Learn more about filling that out, here.

Ceremony type

Some licenses ask you to fill out whether the ceremony is Civil or Religious. If you are an AMM minister, you select ‘Religious’ – even if the event itself wasn’t religious at all.

Witness signatures

The license may ask for witness signatures – you can find out how about the requirements of who can be an official witness to a marriage, here.

The wedding officiant may have to return the marriage license after the wedding

This depends on the regulations of the state – if you as the officiant need to return the license, this is usually done by mail, and the couple will receive the instructions for doing so when they get the marriage license.

You can become a wedding officiant, for free, by applying online with The AMM. Head to The AMM today to find out everything you need to know about becoming a wedding officiant.