How to Get a Marriage License in Ohio

ceremony altar

Photo by Kyle John Photography

Whether you’ll be having a city celebration or a rural reception à la Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, getting married in Ohio always begins with a marriage license application.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting your marriage license in Ohio—a crucial step towards saying “I do.”

Where and When to Go

Everyone and anyone may get married in the state of Ohio; you don’t have to be a resident. Non-residents will have to apply in the county where the wedding ceremony will be performed. For residents, you can file your application in the county of either applicant. You will need to provide proof of residency such as a utility bill, pay stub, auto registration, or a signed lease.

In Ohio, marriage licenses are issued by each county’s Probate Court. Some counties have always accepted online applications while others favored in-person appointments. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can now apply online by pre-registering or filling out digital application forms. You may then have to call or email to book an appointment for your interview, of which both parties must be present for the entire duration. If either or both parties are physically incapacitated and cannot attend an in-person interview, an affidavit from a doctor should be filed.

It is best to enquire directly with your local Probate Office to obtain the most accurate information as each has different requirements. Lucas County, for example, will contact you to schedule the appointment after applying online but over in Montgomery County, no appointments are needed.

From the moment your license is granted, you have 60 days to have your ceremony. If you do not get married within this period, you’ll be required to apply and pay for a new one. Similarly, damaged or lost licenses cannot be replaced and you’ll have to re-apply. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Probate Courts are experiencing processing delays for online marriage license applications. Keep this in mind when scheduling your appointment. Fridays have also been noted as being particularly busy in some Ohio counties.

Things to Note

  • No witnesses are required to obtain a marriage license.
  • A marriage license will not be issued if either party is intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance during the appointment.
  • You may not be nearer of kin than second cousins to be granted a license.
  • If you are above 18 years of age, there is no waiting period in Ohio. You can go on and get hitched immediately after your license is granted.

Bring Your Documentation

There are a few items required for obtaining a marriage license in Ohio. Before or during your appointment you’ll need:

  • Proof of Identity and Age. You must be at least 18 years old to get married in Ohio. Each person will require a valid readable and clear government-issued photo ID. This may be a state ID card, driver’s license, visa, passport, or military ID. Some counties including Richland (where Hollywood stars Bogart and Bacall exchanged vows) require a Social Security card. An individual that is 17 years of age can be married to someone that is no more than four years older than them only with the consent of the Juvenile Court. Once consent is received, the minor can be granted a license no earlier than 14 calendar days. All applicants that are under 18 years of age must receive marriage counseling before a marriage license will be issued.
  • Money. An Ohio marriage license costs between $40 and $75 and this varies according to the county. Some counties (such as the Stark County Probate Court) donate a portion of marriage license fees to shelters supporting victims of domestic violence. As Ohio counties made changes to marriage license application protocols due to COVID-19, you may not be able to pay with cash as in-person appointments aren’t available. Debit and credit card payments are largely accepted but do check with your local office. Note that a convenience/processing fee may be applied to credit card payments.
  • Proof of Divorce. Only unmarried people will be granted marriage licenses. Therefore, at the time of application, any divorced applicants will need to bring a certified copy of the last divorce decree showing names, places, and case numbers of the divorce as well as any minor children from that marriage. If the marriage ended due to the other spouse’s death, a certified copy of the death certificate must be presented.

Get Married!

Chapel, courthouse, mansion, or museum, it’s time to grab your license and head to your wedding venue! Seal the deal with a wedding officiated by a licensed or ordained minister of any religious society or congregation, a county or municipal judge, or the superintendent of the State School for the Deaf. Marriage by proxy isn’t permitted in Ohio so both parties will have to be present for the ceremony.

In addition to your marriage license, you may need to get a permit to have your ceremony or reception in one of Ohio’s beautiful state parks such as Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills State Park. Call or write to the park office well ahead of time to ensure your desired date is available.

Within 30 days, the authorized person that conducted your wedding ceremony will send the signed certificate of marriage to the Probate Court. You will not be notified if the certificate isn’t returned and you won’t automatically receive the certificate. To request certified copies of your marriage certificate, call or email the Probate Court that provided your marriage license. You’ll need to provide the first and last names of both parties (including any maiden names) and the date of the marriage. There is a minimal fee involved. In some counties including Miami County, you can prepay for your certificate at the time of applying for the marriage license.

Make it Special

Getting your marriage license is a legal procedure but it can also be celebrated as now nothing stands between you and forever with your special someone. Consider wearing white on the day to build excitement and anticipation for your nuptials. Listen to songs that might be on your wedding day playlist—perhaps from John Legend, Doris Day, Bobby Womack, Dean Martin, or any other smooth crooners hailing from Ohio. Pick a particular perfume or scent to wear or tie in a prop from your first date. Tickle your taste buds with a cake or dessert and capture it all on film or video. Next stop, wedded bliss!

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