No matter what size or style of wedding celebration you’re planning, one of the all-important steps to getting properly, legally married is navigating the process of obtaining and certifying your marriage license. And if you are tying the knot in New Jersey, your future life together will not be recognized as a legal union without a New Jersey marriage license.
To help you navigate the marriage license process in the Garden State, we consulted experts Elaine Wallace and Danielle Rothweiler.
Meet the Expert
- Elaine Wallace is a municipal clerk for the Borough of Cape May Point, New Jersey.
- Based in Essex County, New Jersey, Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design plans and manages weddings across the Tristate region.
Where and When to Go
The state’s 72-hour waiting period between filing your application to obtain your license and your actual wedding date has been reinstated—which means that, while you can apply for your license up to six months before your wedding date. The absolute latest is 72 hours in advance, explains Wallace. "If you’re getting married over the weekend, usually Tuesday is the latest I would recommend applying for your license because, technically, you won’t get your license until Friday," Wallace adds.
To that point, Rothweiler recommends contacting your local registrar’s office during business hours to confirm the most current information and guidelines including whether or not an appointment is necessary, or if walk-ins are welcome.
"In my experience, couples need to connect with [the registrar’s office] directly because guidelines can also change depending on what city you’re getting married in within New Jersey," notes Rothweiler. "I always tell my couples, 'Call the office of your local registrar, just to make sure nothing’s changed.'"
You can complete almost all of the details of the New Jersey marriage license application form in advance of a visit to or appointment with the registrar’s office, except for one crucial component—the application should only be signed in the presence of the issuing authority. So, hold off on those signatures, for the moment.
Bring Your Documentation
To initiate the process, an in-office visit or appointment is required, with both partners prepared to provide the following paperwork, as well as proof of identification of an accompanying witness:
- Proof of Identity. You can prove your identity with a valid state or federal ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
- Proof of Residency. You only need to show proof of residency for one applicant if they are a New Jersey resident.
- Social Security Card. U.S. citizens will have to show proof of their Social Security number.
- Witness. Couples must bring a witness 18 years of age or older to obtain their marriage license.
- Money. The application fee for a New Jersey marriage license costs $28.
At this point, you and your S.O. are so close to the finish line! That being said, to certify your New Jersey marriage license, it needs to be signed by the two of you, your officiant, and two witnesses on your wedding day.
Rothweiler recommends to her couples to take care of the details regarding officially signing the marriage certificate just before the ceremony—especially if they’re opting for a pre-ceremony first look. "At this point, many of your photos will be done, your witnesses will be nearby and your officiant will arrive at least half an hour early. So why not get it out of the way?" she notes.
Getting those T’s crossed and I’s dotted before the ceremony means that immediately following, you can head straight for cocktail hour to hug and greet your guests, or head out onto the grounds of your wedding venue with your photographer to capture those very first intimate moments of newlywed bliss, followed by any other family or friends photo group shots. Which, at the end of the day, isn’t that what this special day is all about, anyway?