Getting married in the United States of America

Start on time

Especially for a wedding abroad it's highly recommended to start early with preparations. It entails more than you'd probably initially think. The laws and regulations in the USA are different than elsewhere.

Where to begin?

When you decide to get married in the USA, you first have to find someone who will marry you. A wedding in the USA is legally binding . 
If you decide to 'just' get married, and don't want to have a religious wedding, it's recommended to start looking for ‘civil wedding officiants’. These are wedding officiants that are authorized to we you, outside of the church.

Note that the United States is a religious country and non-religious wedding officiants are harder to find. Make sure to search for ‘civil’ or ‘non-denominational’.
Then contact him or her per e-mail or Skype, to decide whether or not this person is the right one for you. If you don't already have a credit card, it's recommended to get one, since most payments in the United States require it.


The USA knows a so-called ‘marriage licence’. This document must be requested before the wedding, most likely just like in your own country. Keep in mind that in the USA each state has its own rules and regulations for this license. There's also a waiting period involved, so make sure to ask for the wait times and how long the documents are valid.

Marriage Licence

To acquire the license a proof of identity is required, for example a copy of your passport. These will have to be stamped and approved by the notaryship. In Las Vegas this all goes a little bit easier, but in most states it requires a lot of paperwork. The wedding officiant can stamp this document for you, but also some UPS stores can help you with this. Find out well in advance who and where this service will be provided. Search for a ‘public notary’ in the vicinity of your hotel/wedding venue.

The Courts

The institution that handles the aforementioned license is the "country clerk’s office" or "clerk of court’s office". The name of this institution is dependent on the state in which you marry. Every American city or state has its own office and larger states often have multiple. It could be that you'll have to go to a so-called ‘probate court’ to pickup your license.

When you get married in larger cities like Los Angeles or New York, you can make use of the online option. Here you can request a license beforehand and fill it out. After this you'll have two or three weeks to pickup the license at the country court. Please be aware that you both need to be present when you're picking it up.

Marriage certificate

Besides the marriage license there's also the marriage certificate. The license indicates your right to get married, the certificate however indicates that the wedding has taken place and is now legally binding.
When your wedding officiant signs the certificate, according to US law, it's now a legal marriage. When you want to make the wedding legal in your own country, you still have to go to your own municipality. So make sure you make plenty of copies of this document.


An apostille is an addendum to the wedding certificate. According to the Hague Convention of Private Law, this extra document allows you to exchange documents with all countries that are part of this convention.
This document can be requested at the secretariat of the state. This is based in the capitol of the state in which you're getting married. It's recommended to make sure the certificate will have an apostille, and send a request for this to the secretariat of the state. This apostille is a key component in making sure your marriage is legal in your home country, so look into how this is arranged in the state in which you marry as well as in your home country.

So...Texas, New York of maybe Las Vegas? Are you still looking for the perfect wedding venue? Have a look in our vendor guide for wedding venues in the United States of America. We also offer an extensive overview of wedding officiants in the USA

Good luck!


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