Fabled equestrian grounds, laid-back country charm, vibrant local food, spirits and art scenes—the Bluegrass State has plenty that appeals. No matter what sort of wedding style you and your partner are envisioning, one common denominator is that every couple getting married in Kentucky needs to apply for a Kentucky marriage license, whether you’re locally-based or planning to make Kentucky your out-of-state destination wedding location.
But don’t fret about what ultimately amounts to a little (albeit very official and legally binding!) paperwork. "The process of getting your Kentucky marriage license is super simple," says Louisville native and event coordinator Ginna Matson. "There’s no appointment needed; walk-ins are welcome. Usually, you are in and out within 30 minutes to an hour."
Meet the Expert
Ginna Matson is the owner and principal coordinator at Humming Page Event Co., which specializes in planning weddings and other occasions in Louisville and beyond.
Where and When to Go
The only thing even remotely tricky about applying for your marriage license here is nailing the timing. You and your future spouse need to apply for your Kentucky marriage license together at a local County Clerk’s Office in person during regular business hours. You can visit any County Clerk’s Office in the state to apply for a marriage license that will be valid for your wedding in Kentucky. So if you live a little driving distance from your wedding location—or there’s another office that’s just more convenient—make that your go-to option.
Once your marriage license is issued it’s valid for 30 days, including the day you obtained it—so don’t even think about trying to get this checked off the wedding to-do list 45 or 60 days in advance. And while there is no waiting period required between when you’ve obtained your Kentucky marriage license and when you exchange your vows (as required in some other states), it’s probably not the best idea to wait until the last minute, either.
Bring Your Documentation
At your in-person appointment, you'll need to bring the following:
- Valid ID. Bring a driver’s license, passport, or another government-issued ID.
- Money. $50 fee, payable by cash, credit card or check from an in-state personal bank account of one of the applicants (no third-party checks).
So long as you are both at least 18 years old and you have a valid ID, you do not need to bring documents such as your birth certificate or your Social Security card. Also, if you have been divorced, you do not need to bring your divorce decree.
Now that your Kentucky marriage license has been granted officially, all that’s left is to get on with the ceremony—and the festivities to follow! By the time your wedding day rolls around, most likely the only signature still needed on your marriage license is that of your officiant. "A lot of couples sign the marriage license when they first receive it so they don’t need to do anything on the actual day of the wedding," notes Matson. "By the big day, the officiant is really the only one who needs to still fill it out."
The good news there: Kentucky is very lax about any requirements or regulations pertaining to who can legally officiate your ceremony—they don’t have to be ordained or register with the state in any way. So, if you still haven't decided who you want to ask to participate in that key wedding role but are possibly considering a close family member or longtime friend, there’s nothing else that they have to do to be deemed "official."