Saturday, April 21, 2012

That Vital Document for a Legal Wedding

Some Helpful Tips for Couples as they decide where to obtain a marriage license

This article is one of those NEED TO KNOW renderings.  All couples will need to read the website of the state licensing requirements where a wedding will be performed, but most couples appreciate guidance from their wedding minister. This type of information will only appeal to those just starting their search. The likelihood of changes offered in this article will be minimum, but one must be aware that requirements do change periodically.
Some General Advice

The Marriage License is so important!Always call a Clerk of the Court Marriage Bureau (or similar title) in the county and state where you plan to marry and get details, if it's not already on their website. If you are traveling from a considerable distance, even from out of state, double check what documents you need and have them secured for the trip. Know what the fee is and what form is acceptable for payment. For Virginia and other states nearby, the fee is usually about $30.00.  In Washington, D.C.  the fee is $45.00. In Maryland, depending on which county, the fee runs from $35.00 - $85.00 (cash).  If anything changes, most likely the fee will rise as the years go by.  You may want to clarify hours of operation and any holidays which coincide with your planned ceremony.  Some couples may actually wait until the last few days to obtain a license and not realize that the office is closed for a government holiday. Don't let this happen to you!

Do you know how long the license is valid from date of purchase?

Since most of our weddings are in Virginia, the license is valid for 60 days. In Maryland the license is valid for six (6) months, a very generous length of time.  It may vary in other states, but this is important to know. We recommend that trip to the Clerk of the Court for a purchase from 7-14 days prior to the ceremony. Of course if an out of state resident, then arrival may entail planning the purchase just days before the ceremony.  The wedding must take place within that time period of 60 days in Virginia, or one can find it necessary to return to the Clerk for a return of the first license and purchase of another for 60 days. We recommend allowing that extra time beyond the planned wedding date just in case there is a delay of the wedding due to unexpected family situations, or weather, etc. In 2011 a hurricane in Virginia caused considerable delays in travel and closings of locations. Therefore, the license purchased a week or two prior to the ceremony will be valid for extra time to arrange a new plan.

Know exactly where you must be married with the license you have purchased

This is really important!  In Virginia you can purchase a license from any Clerk of the Court in any county, and you can marry anywhere in Virginia.  This is not true in Maryland, where you must marry in the county where the license is purchased. Most states allow for purchase at any County Clerk office with freedom to marry anywhere inside that state. Every state requires that the ceremony take place inside the borders of that state, and an address where the ceremony took place is required on the license.  In most states, especially in Virginia, a couple takes possession of the license immediately upon purchase. In Maryland a couple takes possession of the license immediately but must wait for two (2) days until a ceremony can take place.  In Washington, D.C. the processing and waiting time from application to pickup of the license for a wedding performed by a minister in the city away from the Courthouse is  three (3) days.  Always clarify with a Clerk any changes in processing time.

What are the responsibilities of a minister performing a legal marriage?

In Virginia a minister must be registered with a County Clerk in order to marry couples. The VA license provides for the minister to indicate which county of registration, year of registration, and address of the minister. The license only has one signature: the minister.  The license (two copies) and a return envelope is provided to the couple and then is presented to the minister prior to the ceremony for review and retention. The minister completes and returns both copies by regular mail to the Clerk of the Court within the week following the wedding.

What are the requirements for a minister performing legal marriages?

There are different requirements for each state. Virginia requires that a minister presents documents proving credentials and is then registered with a particular County Clerk of the Court.  It is acceptable to ask a minister or officiate regarding proper registration for performing a wedding on behalf of a state or in the District of Columbia.

Reverend Elisheva Clegg and Reverend Thomas Wade Clegg III are registered in most states which require registration. In Virginia our registration is with the Fluvanna County Clerk of the Court.  In West Virginia the registration is with the WV Secretary of State, who then allows for marrying couples anywhere in the state when presented with a license from any WV county. Maryland and North Carolina do not require a state registration.  In Florida both Reverends Clegg are registered in Bay County with the Clerk of the Court. Only Reverend Elisheva Clegg is registered with the Washington, D.C. Clerk of the Superior Court, and also in New York City for the State of New York.

Final Comments

Locate and read the State or District  website for requirements for a marriage license. If you have questions, CALL AND ASK!

Blessings ... Reverend Elisheva