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.
Alabama 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
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