From historic Charleston to the Grand Strand, Hilton Head Island, Upstate, and beyond, South Carolina has some incredibly special wedding venues. And whether you’re a resident of the state or working through the planning details of what’s sure to be one lovely destination wedding, you cannot put off getting your South Carolina marriage license, which requires understanding the timing and nuances of obtaining this legal document.
Of course, we know, it’s not necessarily every couple’s favorite item on the (lengthy) to-do list of what it takes to get married—but it’s essential, nonetheless. And frankly, as long as you don’t wait until the last minute to get this process started, it’s all going to be just fine.
To learn more about getting married in South Carolina, we consulted local expert Kim Nelson. Keeping reading for everything you need to know about a South Carolina marriage license.
Meet the Expert
Kim Nelson is the sales manager and wedding concierge at Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau. She has assisted hundreds of couples planning to wed at Hilton Head Island.
Where and When to Go
South Carolina marriage licenses are valid anywhere throughout the state, meaning you can apply via any county in the state. Depending on the county, you can apply either online or in person. Charleston County, for example, offers the (LOVE) Live Online Virtual E-Application, and its website includes a wealth of resources for what documents you’ll need and how to apply.
All counties in South Carolina require a waiting period of a minimum of 24 hours between the application and acceptance of a marriage license—but times do vary by county. It’s best to err on the side of caution and get your application in at least a few business days in advance. "People are often surprised that there’s a waiting period," says Nelson.
Your local wedding planner or coordinator will know exactly what needs to happen and when, as well as what documents are required and can guide you through the steps it takes to obtain your South Carolina marriage license.
Hilton Head Island is located within Beaufort County, yet it has its own satellite probate court office, where Nelson helps couples to sort out the details of marriage licenses. "Hours can be quirky, so always make sure you check out times of service and make an appointment, if necessary," Nelson adds.
Bring Your Documentation
Every couple applying for a South Carolina marriage license will need the following:
- Proof of Age and Identification. If under the age of 25, you'll need to show proof of age. Identification can be proved with a valid driver’s license, state-issued identification card, birth certificate, military identification card, or current passport (or current visa if not a U.S. citizen).
- Proof of Social Security. Know your social security number or A-number for non-citizens.
- There is no proof of residency or blood test requirement
- Money. Application fees and forms of payment vary by county. Some counties accept cash only so check your specific site for details before your appointment.
South Carolina has specific requirements regarding whom can preside over your ceremony. So, unless one of your best friends is also an ordained minister of the gospel, a Jewish rabbi, an officer that administers oaths in the state or local notary public, they’ll need to be observing as a guest, instead.
As an example of how flexible those parameters can be though, Nelson shared this aww-worthy anecdote: "We’ve actually married couples at the Visitor’s Bureau on Hilton Head Island because we have a notary on staff. One was a military couple; he was about to be deployed and wanted to get married before leaving. It was just the two of them dressed casually, but it was pretty special. They had a party later with family and friends on the island."
The bottom line is that, while a necessity, the actual process of getting your South Carolina marriage license shouldn’t be too much of a stress point. Leverage the knowledge of your wedding planner or coordinator and always feel free to contact the office of the local probate judge in the county where your "I dos" are to be exchanged—simply picking up the phone and calling often goes a long way to clearing up any lingering questions.
Whether you’re getting married on the beach, in a house of worship, in a historic venue, or in your backyard—this day is your day, no doubt about it. So don’t ever let something like the small, pragmatic steps of getting your marriage license in order weigh too heavily. You’ll get there, without a doubt!