What to Know About Your Marriage License

The big day’s come, you’ve walked down the aisle, you’ve said “I do,” now what?  Time to party?  Not quite.  Make your marriage official by signing your marriage license!

It’s always a good idea to sign your marriage license right after the ceremony.  You just said your vows, you have your officiant and witnesses on hand, jump on getting that formality over with before heading into pictures or cocktail hour as newlyweds.

Chris Van Winkle Photography


Marriage does not simply begin with a kiss.  Your marriage license is a legal document that you must submit to be recognized as a married couple.  You can start the process by applying in person at your county clerk’s office about 30 days before the wedding.  Be sure not to show up empty-handed.  Bring documentation for both you and your partner.  This could be a birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, etc.  Here in Michigan, there is a three-day waiting period, after filing, before you can pick up your marriage license.  Once you’ve got it in hand, don’t forget to pack it up and bring it with you to your wedding!

Darrell Christie Photography


Before signing, there are a few very important details that a lot of couples overlook.

  1. Signing in the right color. Check with your county clerk on what color is required for your license.  Here in Charlevoix, the color is black.  Yours may be different!  Sometimes, it’s blue.  Always double-check before putting down your John Hancock.
  2. Look up the correct county/township you’re getting married in. Not the one you live in, the one where you get married.  This can be confusing right after the ceremony and warrant some frantic googling after the fact.  Be sure to look your marriage license over before your wedding and make sure you have all the correct information.  If you’re getting married at Castle Farms, you’re to put: Charlevoix County or Marion Township, whatever’s required.
  3. If you’re changing your name, sign your marriage license with your new last name. This is exciting!  The first official time you’re signing that fancy new name of yours.
Chris Van Winkle Photography

Is one or both of you from out-of-state?  If you are both residents of another state, you will have to apply for a marriage license through Charlevoix County.  If one of you lives in Michigan, you will have to apply for the license within the county you or your future spouse live in.

With all that said and done, you should have everything you need to make your marriage official.  Hey Alexa, cue Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours!


Darrell Christie Photography

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