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Maryland Marriage Licenses and Certificates: What to do Before and After the Big Day

With springtime just a month away, many recently engaged couples are excitedly anticipating the arrival of long-planned wedding days. According to, almost 80% of weddings take place between May and October. At all of these events, beyond the music, flowers, cake, dresses, suits, and all the other details that will make the day memorable and special, there are legal requirements that cannot be overlooked. Among these requirements are the need to obtain a license before the wedding, and to obtain a completed certificate after the wedding.

If you are planning a Maryland wedding this spring, here are some of the laws that you will want to keep in mind:

Do Not Forget the Marriage License

Under Maryland law, a marriage is not legal unless a license has been issued. Maryland marriage licenses are issued by the clerk for the county in which the marriage is performed. Therefore, it is important to contact the clerk of the appropriate county for the procedure that needs to be followed. In Maryland, there are 24 jurisdictions in which marriage licenses may be obtained. License fees also vary across the jurisdictions (and can also be waived if the spouses complete a marital preparation course).

In Prince George’s County, for example, in order to obtain a marriage license, at least one of the future spouses must appear in person at the office of the county clerk and bring along identification for both parties.

  • The law requires that the person who appears provide the clerk with the following information:
  • The names of the future spouses
  • The future spouses’ residences/addresses
  • The future spouses’ ages
  • The future spouses’ birthplaces
  • The future spouses’ social security numbers (if one future spouse is from another country and has no social security number, that spouse must be present and must sign an affidavit)
  • Whether the future spouses are related, and, if so, their relationship
  • The future spouses’ marital status
  • In cases where one future spouse was previously married or widowed, the date of divorce or the former spouse’s death

Once issued, a marriage license is valid for six months in the county in which it is issued.

Attached to the marriage license are two certificates that the spouses, as well as the wedding officiant or overseers, must sign. The certificates contain important information, such as when and where the wedding took place, as well as the information that is contained in the marriage license.

Who can Perform the Ceremony?

Marriage ceremonies in Maryland can be performed by:

  • Religious officials and others authorized to perform a religious marriage ceremony
  • Court clerks and any deputy clerks
  • Judges

What Happens to the Marriage Certificates After the Ceremony?

The marriage certificate serves as the legal record that evidences that the marriage was performed. After the ceremony, the officiant gives one copy of the certificate to the spouses, and within five days, returns the other certificate to the clerk who issued the license.

If you are getting married and have questions about legal requirements, or any other legal matters related to marriage, contact a knowledgeable family law lawyer. The family law team at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro can help answer any marriage questions you may have.