What To Know About Your Marriage License


This might be the most important wedding faq that I write! Because at the end of the day, only your marriage license will legally bind your love for each other. In my experience, the license can also be one of the trickiest parts of the wedding day. It's often overlooked since it seems to be self explanatory, even if it's slightly confusing if misunderstood. So, to avoid any and all confusion I wanted to create a list of all the things you need to know about getting a marriage license, from apply to signing!

How to get your license

First of all, every state's laws on marriage are different and you will need to obtain a license in the state of which you will actually be married. Because Portland is so close to the Washington border, it's not uncommon for couples to get married on the Washington side of the gorge, even if they reside in Portland. Because they are wed in Washington, they will have had to obtain a Washington marriage license. More specifically, you will need to find out the city and county of your wedding to find the office that will handle your paperwork. Your best bet is to google it! If you're getting married in Portland, you will need to search for a Multnomah County Marriage License. These are usually obtained at a courthouse, but can vary based on city and county. 

License Rules

Hate to tell you, but getting a marriage license isn't as easy as showing up and asking for one. Here are some of the things to consider before walking into the county office. 

1. Each state or county has a different required wait period between getting your license and saying "I do", and they also have a specific length of time they are considered legally valid. For example, an Oregon marriage license is only valid for 60 days after the wedding. 

2. To obtain a license, you must be prepared to present documents proving you're a real person. For example, in Oregon you're required to present a birth certificate, valid identification, and a record of previous marriage (if it's not your first). 

3. Like any legal document, there is a fee! In Oregon it's $60, and be prepared to pay cash as not every office accepts checks or card!

Information You'll Need

When it comes time to actually fill out the license, make sure each of you has all this information available or memorized: Address, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Father’s Name, Father’s place of birth, Mother’s Maiden Name, Mother’s place of birth. 

Wedding Day Tips

Lastly, here are a few things to consider for the wedding day! First and foremost, make sure your officiant knows what's up. This won't be difficult if you've hired an officiant. They will be able to easily walk you through every step. But, if you're having your friend marry you, check in with them to make sure they know the ins and outs of signing the license. 

Second, if this is a moment you'll want photographed, tell your photographer! It's a very common event and usually only takes 15 minutes. The best time to have this done is before the grand entrance, usually after the ceremony or cocktail hour. 

Lastly, in your envelope there will be two copies of the license, but only one is legally binding and will need to be mailed in to the local office. You'll notice the difference once you compare. The copy you don't mail in is just for you and for display. It's not a legal document, but rather one to keep as a momento. You can either sign it in addition to your actual marriage license, or send it to your calligrapher so you can beautifully display it in your home with perfect penmenship!