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Georgia Wedding Laws

Weddings are legal and civil unions, meaning they fall under the mandatory oversight of the Georgia state legislature and judicial branch. For a wedding to receive recognition and acceptance in the state, individuals must be aware of the laws governing such unions. Thankfully, we have gathered all the pertinent information about ceremonies, marriage licenses, and paperwork to ensure you plan and complete a legal marriage ceremony.

Georgia Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 17 with Proof of Emancipation
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

First and foremost, marriage equality is an honored and respected practice in the state of Georgia, and it follows all U.S. states in allowing same-sex partners a legal and recognized path to marriage. However, only adults are permitted to marry, with exceptions made for 17-year-olds with proof of parental emancipation.

Another benefit to marriage in Georgia is the lack of a residency requirement, meaning neither individual needs to live in the state to be married there. If both individuals are from out of state, however, they must go to the county of the ceremony to obtain a marriage license.

How to Get a Georgia Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Georgia
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Standard Government Issued ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

For in-state residents, obtaining a marriage license is straightforward. You can go to any county clerk for the issuance of the license, and the license will be valid in any county in Georgia, meaning you are not restricted to marrying in the issuing county. However, for out-of-state couples — where both individuals are not residents of Georgia — the license must be obtained in the county of the ceremony.

While there are no residency requirements in the state of Georgia, the license costs will vary from county to county. If you're getting married on a tight budget, be sure to consider these costs in your plan.

Though premarital blood tests are no longer a requirement before receiving a license, couples must provide proof of identification, meaning you will need to visit the clerk’s office in person to pick up the license application. Once there, you will need to provide one of several documents to prove your age and full name, including:

  • Driver’s license
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Selective service card
  • Hospital admission card
  • Certificate of birth registration
  • Passport
  • Court record
  • Citizenship papers
  • Immigration papers
  • Alien papers
  • Armed forces identification card
  • Armed forces discharge papers

If you had a previous divorce, the clerk might require proof of the divorce, such as the divorce decree. This document proves the divorce was legal and recognized. However, not every clerk will require such documentation. Divorce paperwork is typically only necessary when recent, but you should contact the local clerk’s office to determine what paperwork is necessary to secure a marriage license. Make sure the clerk is in the county you intend to marry in.

Applying For a Marriage License in Georgia

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
Varies by County
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 30 Days of Ceremony

How quickly do you want to get married? Georgia has a pretty rapid turnaround between license application and approval. While some states have waiting periods after applying, Georgia does not. In theory, a couple can submit their application and have the license approved and delivered the same day. However, most couples are not in such a rush.

How long you wait or how quickly you must get married will depend a lot on the county you choose to marry in. Every county can decide how long a marriage license is valid, with some choosing not to include an expiration at all. To know how long you will have after receiving the license, talk to the local county clerk.

Using a Universal Life Church minister automatically means you need to apply for a religious marriage certificate, regardless of the style of the ceremony. All approved ULC ministers are granted the ability to marry through the church. Therefore, if you are given a choice between a religious or civil marriage certificate, choose the license for the religious ceremony.

Finally, after the wedding, when the couple is officially pronounced, submit the signed license to the county clerk’s office. You need to turn the document in within 30 days. Failing to submit your license on time will make your wedding invalid.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Georgia

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

While the minister for your wedding does not need to be a resident of the state, he or she will need to be at least 18 years of age. Additionally, as there is no statewide registration process for ministers in Georgia, a ULC minister can technically officiate a wedding after being ordained online. It is always a smart move to contact the local county clerk to ask about any necessary documentation. While not every county will require documentation from the minister, some might. For newly ordained ministers, it is wise to keep your ordination credentials close in case a clerk requests it.

Getting Married in Georgia

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
2
Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

While many people believe a wedding ceremony must be highly technical with a lot of legal jargon, that is not the case in Georgia. The state only requires two portions of a wedding ceremony to be deemed legal: the proclamation and the pronouncement. The proclamation is the portion of the service where both individuals express their desire to wed the other, typically known as the “I do” portion. The pronouncement is the point when the couple is announced in front of their witnesses, typically with the phrase, “I now pronounce you married.”

For a marriage to be legitimate in Georgia, both parties must be present for the ceremony; there is no allowance for a proxy. The couple will also need to designate two witnesses. The marriage license will need to be signed by the officiant, the married couple, and the two witnesses.

Beyond the proclamation, the pronouncement, and the necessary signers, couples are free to adapt the wedding ceremony to their needs and wants. They can customize the celebration to truly reflect their relationship or keep it traditional. The choice is theirs.

Finalizing the Marriage

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

As a wedding officiant, you’ll have an important job after the ceremony: filling out the marriage license. There is a part of the license that will request the officiant's full name. Do not include your title in this space. Instead, find the place for a title and put “minister.” If the license asks for the church address, put your home address. You will also need to ensure every party who needs to signs the license.

While ministers do not need to send records to headquarters, we encourage them to keep records of weddings they perform, especially if they were a paid minister. These personal files will help if questions ever arise.