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Applying for Your Marriage License

Anyone wishing to marry in the state of Wisconsin must apply for a marriage license at a county clerk’s office. Your wedding date must be set before you apply for the license, and the application must be completed at least seven days, but not more than thirty days before the actual wedding date. Once you receive the license in the mail, it’s valid for thirty days after the issue date. Most county clerk offices are open Monday through Friday, but each office has specific hours, so call to check with your specific county. Applications are taken on a first come, first serve basis.

You’ll apply for a license in whichever county the bride or the groom is a resident; that license is then valid in any county in Wisconsin. For example, if one or both of you is a resident of Ozaukee County, you’d go to the county clerk’s office in Port Washington. However, the license you receive in Port Washington can be used to get married anywhere, such as halfway across the state in La Crosse.

{photography: Studio 29 Photography}

However, if both of you are not residents of Wisconsin, you must apply for the license in the county where you will be married. That particular license is only valid in that county then. So if you both live in New York, but are marrying in Milwaukee, you’d apply for a license in Milwaukee county, and can only use that license in Milwaukee county.

Wisconsin does not require any blood tests to get a marriage license, but both people must be at least eighteen years old. On an interesting note, you may marry your first cousin in Wisconsin if the woman is older than 55 years of age, or one of you has documented proof of sterilization!

Both of you will be required to provide specific paperwork at the time of the application, and below is a quick check list. You must apply for the license together in person, and you must both bring these items along:

  1. Valid photo ID, such as a valid driver’s license or passport

  2. Certified copy of a birth certificate

  3. Social Security card with your legal name

  4. Proof of residency with a current address in the county: this is not applicable to out-of-state residents

  5. A filed copy of final judgement of divorce, legal annulment or certified death certificate if one of you was previously married; Wisconsin requires six months to pass after the granting of a divorce before another marriage license can be issued, regardless of where the divorce was given

  6. Name, address, and telephone number of the officiant performing your wedding ceremony The cost of a marriage license varies in each county, so again, contact the county clerk’s office ahead of time, as cash is usually the only way the fee is accepted.


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