How To Complete the Marriage License

As the wedding officiate, it is your duty to complete the marriage license for the bride and groom, and to file it with the county clerk (or city clerk in New York city) within the specified time period, usually three days.

It is the completed marriage license, not the public ceremony, that actually seals the marriage and makes it official.

While the formats for specific localities will vary, they all contain the same basic sections:

Sample Marriage License

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First Four Sectons

The first four sections, Groom Info, Bride Info, Affidavit, Clerk Approval should all be completed prior to the wedding ceremony. The license is not valid without the Clerk's approval, which actually grants the license to be married. The officient should not have to complete anything in these sectons.

Witness Signaturs

You must make sure that the required number of witnesses (one or two are typically required) sign the license. Witnesses must genrally be over 18 years of age (over the “age of consent”).

Officiant Info

If asked to provide a denomination, we generally recommend that you do not indicate “non-denominational”. Some localities interpret that as not having answered the question and will invalidate the license. “Protestant” is appropriate and simple alternative that is generally accepted.

New Names

The spouses optionally complete this section, making sure to comply with state requlations (usually found on the back of the license).


As the officiant this is your most solumn duty, filing the marriage license with the county clerk at the appropriate address within the legally alloted time. Generally the address will be listed on the form, and the time frame is usally within 3 days. The marriage is not legal until this task is completed!

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