While the ceremony and reception are certainly the most memorable parts of a wedding, if you want it to be legal, the most important part is the signing of the marriage license. This document legally binds the two of you together, and it plays a big role if you’re planning on changing your name. Obtaining a marriage license and, subsequently, a marriage certificate is a multistep process.
What’s the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate? A marriage license is what you get first, and it’s basically an application to be married. Once you have filled it out, had your ceremony, gotten it signed, and your officiant has turned it back into the county, then you receive a marriage certificate. “The marriage certificate is a certified copy the married couple will receive post-wedding, which proves they are officially married,” says D. Bruce Hanes, Esq., Montgomery County Register of Wills, Clerk of Orphans’ Court.
Here’s everything you need to do, step-by-step, to get (and complete) your marriage license and marriage certificate.