How Long Is a Marriage License Valid?

by Lainie Petersen, Demand Media Google
    A marriage certificate may expire within 30 to 90 days.

    A marriage certificate may expire within 30 to 90 days.

    Big wedding boo-boo: arriving for the ceremony on your wedding day with an expired wedding license. While it is a great idea to get your license in advance, keep in mind that it will expire, probably within 30 to 90 days, so time your visit to the courthouse accordingly. By the way, it is always a good idea to get your marriage license to your officiant before the wedding, so be sure to ask him when it would be a good time to drop it off.

    Location, Location, Location

    Each state sets its own laws on weddings and marriage licenses. You'll have to apply for a marriage license in the state where you plan to have the wedding, and in some places, you'll have to get your marriage license in the same county where you get married.

    Time Limit

    Wedding licenses eventually expire, some sooner than others. In Hawaii, your wedding license is good for 30 days, while Illinois gives you 60 days to tie the knot and New York's wedding licenses stay valid for a whopping 90 days. Amusingly, Nevada, home of the quickie marriage, gives couples plenty of time to think things over -- a year, to be exact.

    Effective Date

    Some places have “cooling-off” laws that prevent you from getting married for a few days after you apply for or receive your wedding license. Make sure you understand the date from which your state counts the expiration period. For example, if your state requires you to wait two days to get married after you get your license, and licenses are only good for 30 days, you should find out if the 30-day countdown began the day you got the license, or the day it became effective.

    Follow-Up

    After your wedding, it is up to your officiant to complete the marriage license forms and send them off to the proper authority in your area, such as the courthouse that issued your license. It is a good idea to double-check that the papers actually got filed by requesting a certified copy of your marriage certificate about a month after your wedding.

    About the Author

    Lainie Petersen lives in Chicago and began writing professionally in 1989. She covers careers, consumer issues and business for several online publications. Petersen holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Illinois State University and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University.

    Photo Credits

    • getting married image by Bettina Baumgartner from Fotolia.com