How to Get a Marriage License in Missouri

bride with dad

Courtesy of Megan and Tim Stark

When it comes to wedding planning, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is either the ceremony or the reception. And, for good reason! Those are usually the most fun, and most highly anticipated components of tying the knot. But, there are many other details leading up to the big day that you must not forget! The rings, the vows, the stationary, and of course—the marriage license!

The requirements and steps to obtain a marriage license vary depending on what state you are getting married in, so it’s important to know all the details before you go. To help navigate the process, we spoke with Tiffany Halkitis of Events Luxe, LLC for her expert advice on obtaining a marriage license in the state of Missouri. 

Meet the Expert

Tiffany Halkitis is the owner and chief event dream-maker at Events Luxe, LLC in the greater St. Louis area.

Where to Get a Marriage License in Missouri

In the state of Missouri, marriage licenses are issued by the Recorder of Deeds in each county, and it’s valid only in the state of Missouri. However, applicants do not have to be residents. To apply for the license, both partners must appear in person before the recorder of deeds or a deputy recorder. You can find your local recorder here. Just note, many counties require appointments to be made in advance. 

According to Missouri state law, all applicants for a marriage license must be at least 18 years old or have consent from a custodial parent or guardian. If younger than 15, a circuit court order must be obtained. Applicants can’t already be married, or be related by blood up to and including first cousins. 

There may be some county-specific license procedures you need to know, so be sure to contact your county Recorder of Deeds for more information.

Additionally, Halkitis stresses that the license is only good for 30 days, so, "You want to get it within a month of your wedding date. I usually recommend my clients go one month [before the wedding], but not a day sooner! The ceremony has to take place within 30 days of the license being issued, so don’t go early just to knock it off your list!"

Bring Your Documentation

There are a few pieces of paperwork you will need to get a marriage license in Missouri. 

  • Proof of Identity and Age. Both parties will need to prove their identity and age with a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military ID, a certified copy of U.S. birth certificate, or government ID card.
  • Social Security Numbers.
  • Money. You’ll need to bring $48 to $60 (for a license plus a certified copy), so bring a little extra just in case. In most counties, cash, credit or debit card is accepted, though there may be a bank processing fee if you use a card. 

Be sure to bring them with you to your in-person appointment. In many counties, like Jackson County, you can also start the application process online.

Get Married!

Remember, the marriage license is only a formal approval for permission to marry. It doesn’t mean you’re married! That’s where the marriage certificate comes in. Don’t confuse the two!

Your marriage license must be picked up prior to your ceremony, and the person performing your ceremony must have the license in hand. It’s actually a misdemeanor for anyone to perform a marriage ceremony if a license is not presented prior. After you officially say "I do," your officiant has fifteen days to return the license to the issuing Recorder of Deeds. 

"If you have a friend as an officiant who doesn’t do this all the time, you MUST make sure that (s)he knows this rule and mails it out immediately after the ceremony," Halkitis cautions.

She continues, "You also want to make sure your officiant handles the document with care if (s)he is a friend and will be attending the reception. Don’t lose it, don’t let it fall through the cracks, don’t let him/her mail it after 15 days."

And, more than anything, Halkitis stresses, "make sure your officiant is 'certified' online well before the wedding to officiate to make everything fully legal!"

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