Marriage License vs Certificate: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that each year over 1.6 million people get married? Despite the popularity of this relationship choice, there are still a lot of misunderstandings surrounding the legal aspects of marriage.

One common one is the difference between a marriage license vs certificate. That’s why we made this marriage license guide.

In it, we’ll explain the difference between these documents and why they’re important. That way, you can get on your way toward having the wedding of your dreams. Let’s get started!

The Difference Between a Marriage License vs Certificate

The main difference between these two documents is that one is needed before the ceremony and the other one is needed afterward. A county clerk issues a marriage license.

It gives you the legal right to get married. A marriage certificate, on the other hand, is given after your ceremony. It’s the legal document that proves you’re married.

How Do You Get a Marriage License?

In most states, you need to be at least eighteen years old to get a marriage license from county clerks. Some states allow you to get married before you’re eighteen years of age.

But, you will need to get permission from your parents. Once you get to the court, you will need to show proof of ID and properly fill out a marriage license application. You will also need to pay a small fee.

This can range between $30 to $100. You will either receive your license in the mail or in person depending on the state.

Why Are They Important?

Both documents are important for different reasons. Let’s start with the marriage license. This document is necessary to verify that you meet all the legal requirements to get married.

For example, let’s say you’re under the age of eighteen and want to get married. The county clerk would prevent you from getting married, and typically for good reason.

It’s common for young teenagers to experience limerence before getting married. This is being madly in love with someone else.

It’s also common in young people or individuals just getting out of abusive relationships (you can learn more about limerence here at

Without a marriage license, people experiencing limerence could get married without the consent of their parents. Marriage licenses prevent this from happening.

Finally, there are marriage certificates. These documents are important for tax, healthcare, insurance, and mortgage purposes. It helps easily prove that you are legally married.

Appreciate Learning About These Marriage Documents? Keep Reading

We hope this article helped you learn the difference between a marriage license vs certificate. As you can see, both are important documents for getting married.

But you need one before the wedding, and the other one is given afterward. Did you appreciate learning about this topic? We have hundreds of similar posts on our website, so keep exploring to find them.

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