How Much Does a Marriage License Cost?

Written by: Staff

A marriage certificate, also known as a marriage license, is a document that proves and validates the marriage of two people.  Although these certificates are issued by each individual state, they are recognized and legally binding both nationally and internationally.  A marriage license is a necessity when planning a wedding, and because most states have laws regarding the issuance of a marriage certificate, it is best not to wait until the last minute. gives requirements for marriage certificates by city and state.

Italian wedding by Hortlander, on Flickr
Italian wedding” (CC BY 2.0) by Hortlander

How much does a marriage license cost?

A marriage certificate will cost between $5 and $100 for the initial copy.  The fee for this varies by state and by cities within that state.  State-specific information on marriage certificates can also vary yearly, so be sure to check current prices.  For example, a state such as Minnesota will charge as much as $100 while a state such as Nebraska only charges $15.

If you need another copy of your marriage license for any reason, a copy will cost between $3 and $15.

Some people choose to get a keepsake copy of their marriage license.  This copy can be obtained through third-party websites, such as, and can cost between $10 and $15.  More elaborate keepsakes of the marriage license, such as engraved pieces of art or jewelry, will cost between $50 to $300.  Gifts like these can be purchased at

Listed below are the prices that you’re going to more than likely have to pay.  Each state is going to vary with its own pricing structure.

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Marriage license overview

To receive a marriage license, applicants will need to bring their IDs, the necessary paperwork, fees, and in some states, a blood test.  This will vary from state to state.  Once you apply for the license, it will either be mailed or can be picked up at the local courthouse, and depending on the state, there may be a waiting period.  From there, you will be married legally by someone in your state and you must have two witnesses sign the license.  Once this is complete, it will be returned to the county clerk’s office and it will be filed.  A few weeks later, you will be able to purchase the certificate from the clerk’s office.

A legal copy of a marriage certificate will generally include the bride and groom’s full names; location and date of the wedding; pastor or official; and the state’s seal.  This seal is usually raised or has some type of security measures to ensure no illegal copies are made.

A keepsake copy of the marriage license can include any information the bride and groom desire, as well as any religious symbols requested.

What are the extra costs?

Ordering marriage certificates online, while convenient, is usually more expensive.  Most services, such as, charge a processing fee as well as shipping and handling.
If the marriage certificate is needed in less time than it normally takes, an express fee may be charged (depends on the state).

Most counties will only issue one to two certificates.  If you need more than one certificate, you’re going to find that each additional copy is going to vary.  This certificate can cost anywhere from $5 to $20.

Tips to know:

Be sure to know more about your state’s waiting period.  Most states are going to have a waiting period before a certificate is issued.

Some states are going to require some sort of medical records such as a physical exam.  Other states may also require blood work.

When applying for the certification, it’s important that both bride and groom are present so that the appropriate papers can be signed.

Each state is going to vary with its laws.  Some states may require blood work while others may allow same sex marriages, etc.

Which states require a blood test for a marriage license?

Only a few states require a blood test and a physical exam.  The states that do require a blood test includes the District of Columbia, Mississippi and Montana.

How can I save money?

The best way to save money is to be organized: Applying for your marriage license in a timely manner, as well as in person rather than online, will save you unnecessary fees.

Some states offer discounts to those that take counseling courses ahead of time.  These classes can last up to 12 hours.

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