Michigan Marriage License FAQs

by Laurie Ayers  - September 1, 2022

If you’re getting married in the beautiful mitten state, here are a few Michigan marriage license FAQs to help you through the process.

  1. WHICH COUNTY: Apply at the Michigan county clerk office where one spouse lives. If neither of you live in Michigan, then apply in the county where the ceremony will take place. There is a small fee, average $20.
  2. HOW to apply: Each county may have slightly different requirements. Some are appointment only. Some are walk-in. Some online only. Carefully look at their website to find the process.
  3. DOCUMENTS needed: While at the website, look to see what paperwork and what people need to be there to apply. Do both of you need to be there? Do you have your photo ID, birth certificate or former marriage divorce decree or death certificate showing you are no longer married?
  4. TIME FRAMES: This is very important. You want to allow enough time to get the license before the ceremony, but not so far in advance that it expires before you get married. You will need to bring your county approved license to the ceremony.
    • In Michigan there is a 3-day waiting period from the time you apply for a license to get married and when you can actually get married.
      • As of this writing, some counties are still appointment only. So what happens if you apply in a timely fashion, but the clerk office sets your appointment date to pick it up after the wedding is scheduled to take place? Make the appointment for first available. If you need it prior to that, call to let them know when your wedding is. In most cases, they will get you in sooner so you will have it for the ceremony.
    • Once you pick it up from the county clerk, it is valid for 33 days. You must get married within that 33-day window, or you will need to reapply for a new license.
    • Once the ceremony is over, you have to return/file it within 10 days of the ceremony.
      • INTERPRETATION: Look at your county website or better yet, call like we did in the olden days if you are unclear. Some say return within 10 days. Others say 10-business days. Some clerks will tell you it doesn’t matter. Others will be a stickler.
  5. WHO FILES: Anyone can file the completed, signed marriage license in Michigan: the bride, the groom, a trusted friend, a relative, the officiant, or the USPS. It doesn’t matter so long as it is filed within 10 days. There is no cost to file a completed marriage license. You already paid the fee when you applied.
    • As an officiant I have never filed a marriage license for a couple, and here’s why. Most of my couples started as strangers to me before the ceremony. Would you want to trust something so important to a stranger, generally speaking?
    • Are you wanting to pay your officiant mileage and their hourly rate to drive it to a county a couple hours away, if your venue and the officiant aren’t local to where you filed?
    • Also, if one or both spouses plan to do a name change, you will need certified copies of the marriage certificate for the social security admin, DMV, banks, etc. There is generally a small fee for these copies too. Depending on county, you may be able to order certified copies online. If you’re filing your marriage license in-person you might as well order certified copies while you’re there. Plan on a small fee for certified copies.
    • You may say, “So what’s the big deal, the officiant can just pop it in the mail.” True. In some cases, this is an option. And for you and your officiant, it may be a good option. Again, for me, I’m not trusting anyone else, not a stranger, and not the United States Postal Service to make sure I am legally married by getting the license filed timely. This is an issue to be discussed before the wedding. It’s not about not being a full-service officiant; it’s that I want you to feel comfortable knowing you didn’t leave this to chance.  For the record, I am a responsible adult, and I will do as I say I will. But generally speaking – your wedding, you make sure you’re legally married.
  6. LICENSE OR CERTIFICATE: Not the same thing. You apply for a LICENSE (to get married). After the ceremony, you will receive in the mail a marriage CERTIFICATE (proving you are married) that was processed based on information submitted on the license application form. The certificate is what you need to change your social security card, drivers license, and other documents if you are doing a name change.
  7. Other Michigan marriage license questions? Let me know how I can help.

Your experience may be different. As a bride/groom, or as an officiant, you may do things differently. I get that. This is a guide. That’s the beauty of weddings, there aren’t too many hard rules (except that marriage license time frame, don’t ignore those).

Looking for a comedian or celebrity impersonator to officiate your wedding in West Michigan?

Want a wedding that’s fun, different, and light, but not a religious ceremony?  Entertaining and officiating are all I do, so I can often make your last-minute wedding work with my schedule. Or you can lock me in, a year in advance. JP not available for weeks or months? I can marry you during the week, on short notice, no problem.

My fee starts at $150.  The “starts at” part is because there are so many factors.

Are you wanting a quickie JP-type ceremony? Are you having a rehearsal on a separate date, or on the same day prior to ceremony? Where is the ceremony? Is it within a 20-mile radius of my location? Or will there be extra mileage? Are you having a fairly traditional wedding, or is there a unique element that I will need to invest extra time in learning, and practicing?  Are you wanting funny, charming me, or wanting Schitt’s Creek’s Moira Rose or iconic mid-century comedian Phyllis Diller to officiate?

You see, there is much that goes into making sure your special day is special. That’s why it depends. Let’s talk. I accept Venmo, Paypal, or Cash due no later than day of ceremony. I’ve never been stiffed on a wedding, so I know you won’t be the first.

Celebrity Impersonator or Tribute Artist?

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