Obtaining a Marriage Certificate via Civil Ceremony
Marriage certificates are the official documentation held by government offices that validate a marriage. After applying for and obtaining a marriage license, a civil ceremony by a certified official must take place in order to make a marriage legal. Typically, a couple must be married within the state or county that issued the marriage license.
Witnesses, the couple getting married, and the official sign the marriage license, which is then filed with the respective government offices to become a certificate. State laws regarding the civil ceremony vary, but following are the general requirements countrywide in order to file and obtain a legal marriage certificate:
The Civil Ceremony
A civil ceremony need not be a large wedding that takes place in a church or other place of worship. Many states allow judges or anyone with the proper licensure to conduct a ceremony and validate a marriage certificate. When the clerk’s office issues a couple their marriage license, this is taken to the ceremony to be signed and validated.
Signing and Validating the Certificate of Marriage
Most states require two witnesses, in addition to the judge or other registered official, to sign the license that will become the new marriage certificate. If the license is not signed by the appropriate parties, the state will likely issue no marriage certificate. In this case, the ceremony as well as obtaining signatures will usually need to take place once again.
Filing of Marriage Certificates
After obtaining the appropriate signatures on a license that will become an official marriage certificate, it must be filed with the appropriate state or local government office. Many times, the official who performed the ceremony will complete this responsibility. After the correct government office validates and files the license, the marriage is considered legal, and the couple is issued a copy of this marriage certificate.
In the rare case that the official fails to file the license with the correct office, the marriage may be considered invalid. When this happens, the witnesses are typically called upon to confirm that the marriage took place.
Free Marriage Certificate Copies
The newly married couple is usually issued one or two free certified copies of their new marriage certificate, but may always request more.These certified copies include an official seal, signature and date from the county court clerk. Uncertified copies or photocopies may be all that is needed for name-changing purposes or changing insurance, license and passport information after being married.
No matter what type of civil ceremony takes place to wed a couple, the official must be properly registered in the state or locale. Couples should understand the local laws concerning the number of witnesses required to sign the license, as well as who is required to file the new marriage certificate to make the marriage valid and legally binding. Retaining at least one certified copy of a marriage certificate will also ensure the couple has the appropriate information on hand in the rare case that the government or another party may question the validity of the marriage.