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Before two people head to the ceremony and run off into matrimonial bliss, they must apply for a marriage license. A legitimate officiant will not marry a couple without one in hand. Rules vary between states, as marriage is considered a civil contract between a state and two people initiating it.

A marriage license should be secured based on where the wedding takes place, and not where the couple lives. If the ceremony destination is not Missouri or Illinois, the website can be consulted for any other state.

Marriage license requirements can change by state, even between counties, so it is MOST important to verify ALL information with the local marriage license office or county clerk where you will be married before making wedding or travel plans. Each county also directs its own schedule for a courthouse marriage by a judge.

Getting married in the show me state

The state of Missouri requires that both parties be single and not blood-related. 2018 legislation raised the minimum age of marriage to 16, and 16- and 17-year-olds must receive parental permission to be married. It also bars a person 21 or older from marrying anyone 18 or younger.

Before the ceremony, even on the same day, a couple must appear together at the recorder of deeds office in any Missouri county or the city of St. Louis. No blood test is required.

Each must show a valid form of government-issued identification, such as a current passport, state ID or driver’s license, which lists date of birth. Unless the Social Security number is on the ID, a Social Security card is also required in Missouri. A person without a Social Security number must sign a form of verification.

The marriage license is valid in any county, but only in Missouri. The ceremony must take place within 30 days of the license being issued. If an individual is divorced, a final decree must be at least 30 days before application, although some counties allow variations.

A cash-only, non-refundable charge of about $50 must be paid with the application. For an extra fee, a certified certificate may be given as proof of marriage or as a keepsake.

Nuptials in the land of Lincoln

Getting married in Illinois differs on some details. A bride- or groom-to-be still needs to be single, not related and at least 18 years old. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds must have parental consent. No one under the age of 16 can marry.

Like its neighbor to the west, Illinois requires a valid form of identification and proof of age for both parties, who must be present at the time of application – but only in the county where they will be married.

Also, a waiting period of 24 hours is required after application. The license, however, is valid for 60 days.

A certified decree of divorce, often within a recent time frame, may be required. Date of divorce or when a spouse died also may be requested.

The fee for a marriage license varies by county. For example, Madison County requires a non-refundable cash fee of $30.

Who can officiate the ceremony

Missouri and Illinois also differ in criteria for an officiant to fulfill these duties.

According to the law, marriage in Missouri may be performed by any clergyman, active or retired; a judge, municipal judge; a religious society, institution or organization when either party is a member. Paperwork must be returned within 15 days to the recorder issuing it. In Illinois, an officiant may be an ordained minister, active or retired judge, or public official empowered to perform marriage. The signed license with information filled out should be returned to the recorder of deeds within 90 days of issuance.

If considering someone besides clergy or a public official to take charge, check with the county recorder of deeds where you will be married to assure authorization-for-a-day will be valid.