Personal Relationships & the Law

THE LEGAL SIDE OF GETTING MARRIED: Lesson 3

Getting Married: Actually Tying the Knot

  • Who performs a marriage ceremony:
    • Someone qualified by the county must perform a marriage ceremony. A judge, or someone who has obtained temporary legal authority from a judge or court clerk to perform marriages, or a member of the clergy. Native American tribes can designate who performs weddings, usually the tribal chief.
    • The one who performs the ceremony is called an “officiant.”
  • Legal requirements of the ceremony:
    • Two people must witness the marriage ceremony. The ceremony must be performed by an officiant (see above!), approved by the state. Ship captains are not “automatically” qualified to perform marriages!
    • At least two witnesses must sign the marriage certificate.
  • The person performing the ceremony must file the marriage certificate with the court clerk.
    • If the marriage certificate is not filed, it will be nearly impossible to prove a legal marriage exists.
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