They call Nevada the wedding mecca of the world, and there is a good reason for it. Compared to other states and countries, it’s incredibly easy to get married in Nevada, especially Las Vegas. The marriage bureau opens early in the morning and remains open until midnight.
Compared to other states where you have to wait between getting a marriage license and tying the knot, in Nevada your license is ready to use the second you get it. That's why hotels and casinos in this state have chapels available for last-minute affairs, and officiants are on call for those ready to spontaneously say I do.
Still, you have to follow a few easy steps to get married in Nevada. Expert Emily Reno gave us a step-by-step guide to the process as well as tips for how to avoid stress or disappointment on your big day.
Meet the Expert
Emily Reno is a wedding planner in Las Vegas and the founder of Emily Reno Events, an award-winning luxury event planning company.
Where and When to Go
To get a marriage license in Nevada both parties must appear before a clerk at a government marriage bureau. The people getting married must fill out a license application, sign it, and provide an approved photo ID to confirm their identities and ages. Unlike other states, there is no need to provide a blood test.
Different counties in Nevada have their own marriage borough with varying hours. The most popular location in Las Vegas is open seven days a week from 8 am until midnight. It's not even closed on holidays, so bring on that Christmas Day or New Year's wedding. “Las Vegas and Nevada literally lay out for the red carpet for the couples to get married easily and quickly in our city," said Ms. Reno. “The marriage bureau in Las Vegas is open most of the time."
The state has no waiting period, which means you can get a marriage license any time before your wedding, even the same day. You can head straight from the marriage bureau to a chapel if you wish. But Reno encourages couples not to wait until the last minute, even though they technically can. “I always recommend couples at least go the day before so there is less stress on the wedding day,” she said.
Bring Your Documentation
To get married in Nevada you must be at least 18 years old, and you have to bring documentation to prove it. Acceptable documents must have your name and age listed on them. Driver’s licenses, passports, military ID cards, permanent resident cards, and voter identification cards are all acceptable. Note: Your marriage license and certificate will list your legal name exactly how it appears on the ID. So if you really want your middle name on your marriage license, make sure the ID you show also has it listed.
The couple has to fill out the marriage license application. While this can be done at the bureau, save time by doing it online in advance.
Marriage licenses cost $77 in Las Vegas and can be paid by credit card either online or in person. Cash and checks, personal or business, are not currently accepted. In other parts of the state, licenses cost a little less. For example, in Washoe County, home to Reno, licenses cost $60.
A marriage license does not mean you are married, and it is not proof of marriage. Rather, it's documentation that shows you are allowed to get married. You still have to do the marriage ceremony/say your vows! A common mistake couples make is forgetting to bring their marriage licenses with them to the wedding, said Ms. Reno: “If the couple forgets the license in their hotel room, the officiant cannot legally process the paperwork to marry them."
Once your officiant has the license, he or she will go through the marriage proceedings and then file a marriage certificate with the government bureau. That is your proof of marriage, and you can order a certified copy of it from the Nevada Marriage Bureau for $20. That process is done online.
Make It Special
Getting a marriage license is certainly a bureaucratic step. There is nothing sexy about filling out the application or verifying your identity. However, that doesn't mean it can't also be romantic and fun. Consider dressing up for the occasion or bringing along a friend to take photos. If you aren't heading straight away to your wedding, consider celebrating completing this big step with champagne or a nice dinner out.