Congratulations, you’re getting married! Now what?
Well, for starters, no couple can get married in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without a valid marriage license. There are two types to choose from. We’re here to break it down for you so that you are prepared for the application process and all that comes with it.
The two types of marriage licenses issued in Pennsylvania are:
-A Traditional License
-A Self-Uniting License
A traditional marriage license is what most people think of. It requires an officiant to solemnize the marriage as defined under Pennsylvania law.
Your Officiant must be licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in order to perform your ceremony. After your ceremony, your Officiant will usually sign the marriage license and handle the recording with the Marriage License Bureau for you.
A self-uniting license is more uncommon, but growing in popularity. It has been around historically since the time of Quakers in Pennsylvania and does not require an officiant. The couple generally recites vows to each other, that they have written, uniting in marriage on their own, either as part of a self guided ceremony or privately if they wish. After the couple have recited their vows to each other, two witnesses who are present at the ceremony sign the license. The couple is then responsible for mailing the license to the Marriage License Bureau for recording.
In Pennsylvania, there is a mandatory three day waiting period for all couples from the time that they apply for their license to when it is granted. It is best to apply for a marriage license two to three weeks prior to your scheduled wedding ceremony. Once the license is granted, it is valid for up to sixty days.
To apply for a marriage license, both applicants must complete the application (either online or in person) and both must appear in person at the Marriage License Bureau to complete the application process. Once your application is accepted, the applicants must wait the mandatory 3 days until their marriage license is available for pickup (or it can be mailed.) (There are some exceptions that can apply in certain cases, such as a medical issue. Please check with the County Marriage License Bureau for further guidance).
The information above applies to all counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The cost of a marriage license can vary from county to county, however. Please check each county’s website for costs and hours of operation for the Marriage License Bureau in that county.
And Good Luck to all!!