They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing! A long-time popular location for both destination and local weddings alike, Florida has pretty much everything you could want in a wedding state—warm temperatures, gorgeous beaches, incredible hotels and resorts, and so much more. But before you get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle (and fun!) of wedding planning, it’s so important to be prepared for all the not-so-minor necessities. For example, a marriage license.
Whether you are planning from afar or live locally, the process is the same for everyone. Here, a step-by-step guide on how to get a marriage license in Florida.
Where to Go
Knowing where to go is the first step in making sure you’re on your way to wedded bliss. You’ll have to head to the nearest clerk of the circuit court office for a marriage license, which will cost you $93.50 (or $61 if both partners are Florida residents and have completed a premarital preparation course, which will also let you skip the 3-day waiting period. You can find a premarital provider here.) And, fees are payable by cash, money order, cashier’s check, American Express, Visa, and MasterCard.
Marriage licenses are issued by county, and it’s incredibly important to know that both partners must apply at the same time.
Some counties, like Broward County which includes Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Coral Springs, are currently piloting a virtual program to issue marriage certificates, which includes an online video conference session. If your county is offering this, it may be worth a try, but if time is of the essence, the website says, “it may be quicker for you to schedule an in-person appointment.”
Bring All Your Documents
For the application, you’ll need a set of important documents. So, make sure you are prepared and gather all documents ahead of time. Then, triple-check you have them before you head to the office!
- Photo identification (such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card)
- Both partners’ social security numbers
- Passports or naturalization or immigration numbers (for international visitors)
- For partners who have been previously married, you’ll also need the date of divorce, annulment, or previous spouse’s death.
- Your payment method
- You’ll also have to provide one stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope for the return of their certified copy of the marriage certificate once it has been recorded. This will also be available for purchase at the site.
Unless the preparation course has previously been completed and a certification of completion is presented to the Clerk’s office, if either one or both partners are Florida residents, there is a three-day waiting period before the license takes effect.
And one minor detail—both partners need to be 18 years of age or older to apply for themselves.
According to the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers, “underage applicants must have parental consent from both parents unless the court has given one parent sole custody. The order would need to be presented at the time of application. Applicants under the age of 16 must have court approval.”
The Final Step—Get Married
Now, it’s time to get married! Your issued marriage license will be good for 60 days from the date of issue, so it’s imperative that your wedding day falls within this time frame. An important factor is the 3-day waiting period. Unless you choose to partake in the Premarital Course mentioned above, all couples getting married in Florida must wait a minimum of 3 days after getting their marriage license before performing a legal wedding ceremony.
With your license, according to Florida state statute 741.07, “All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public of this state,” may solemnize your marriage.
Once your ceremony is performed and the license is signed by the approved officiant, it needs to be mailed back to the court offices within ten days. Once received, it will be certified, and an official copy will be sent back to the newly married couple.
Make it Special
Obtaining your marriage license is an important and necessary step along your journey to the altar. So, like all wedding milestones, it can be fun to try to make the process special! Plan a special lunch or dinner date night for that day, bring along a friend to snap photos, or find other ways to make it a memorable moment. You’ll be glad you did!