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Marriage Laws

Marriage laws vary from state to state and sometimes even county to county within a state. Marriage laws can restrict the age of the man, woman or both; require vaccinations or proof of immunity from certain diseases; require blood tests or physical exams; prove an unmarried status; allow same sex marriages or unions and even set a mandatory waiting period.

All states and counties require identification in the form of a valid driver’s license or photo ID (including Armed Forces identification or passport) and usually a secondary ID, like a social security number. Some of these requirements are listed below, by state. As laws change periodically, it is best to check with the county clerk in the county you are planning to marry for up to date regulations.


Marriage Guide - StepsAlabama marriage laws require that persons under 16 years old may not be married, those between 16 and 18 may marry with consent of both parents or guardian(s) and a $200 bond. Residency in the state is not required. Also, a waiting period of 60 days after divorce is the only time restriction. There are no medical or blood tests required before marriage in Alabama. A marriage license costs between $42 and $70, depending on the county and package you choose. Cousins may marry and Alabama does allow for common law marriage. Alabama does not permit same sex marriages. A license is valid for 30 days. Alabama Department of Public Health can be reached at 334-613-5300.


California requires photo identification but you do not have to live in the state to apply for marriage there. Under the age of 18, at least one parent or guardian is required to appear. If either party has been married in the past, proof of dissolution of marriage is required. There is no marriage law waiting period in California and no blood or physical tests are required. Cousins may marry. California marriage laws do not permit for common law marriages but do allow for proxy marriages (only for armed forces members) and same sex domestic partnerships in San Francisco and Marin counties (check though as things may change). A California marriage license is valid for 90 days. Contact the clerk of the county you wish to marry.

District of Columbia

Marriage Laws - The Bride.The District of Columbia marriage laws do not require that you live or work in DC. There is no waiting period post-divorce, but proof, either in the form of a certified death certificate or certified divorce decree is. You will need a blood test for syphilis, performed within thirty days prior to applying for a license by a physician, hospital, clinic or military lab. A mandatory waiting period is five days in the District of Columbia. Marriage laws to permit for common law and cousin marriages but not for same sex or proxy weddings. Persons between 16 and 18 years old are required to have signed parental or guardian consent. Contact the DC offices at 202-442-9009.


Massachusetts’s marriage laws have, in recent years, come to the forefront of politics. In 2004, the state began permitting same sex marriages. While there are legal challenges to this law, as of the time of this article same sex partners are permitted to marry, though their status is not recognized throughout most of the United States. There is a three-day waiting period for all couples. This waiting period can be waived in the event of one party being close to death or during the end of the bride-to-be’s pregnancy. No physical or blood tests required. Cousins may marry. Minors under 18 are required to obtain a court order before they can apply for a marriage license. You can reach the Massachusetts Department of Vital Statistics at (617) 740-2600.


Nevada may be the home of the drive-thru wedding chapel but their marriage laws are very similar to other states. A parent or legal guardian must be present or notarized permission is required for minors 16 or 17 years old. There is no waiting period and proof of dissolution of any previous marriage is not required. Unlike many other states, marriage laws of Nevada provide that non nearer of kin than second cousins or cousins of half blood may marry.

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