Last week I provided tips for getting your officiant registered in Orleans Parish, including the forms, phone numbers, and addresses for the appropriate offices you'll need to make it official. This week, I am walking you through everything you need to know about applying for your marriage license in New Orleans. It really isn't as painful a process as one might think! You can expect under normal circumstances to spend about an hour to complete the entire process (sometimes more, sometimes less, so plan accordingly)!
The earliest you will be able to apply for your marriage license is 30 days before your wedding date. Your license will expire at midnight thirty days after the date you submitted your application and is valid in any city in the state of Louisiana. If your license expires prior to your ceremony (if for whatever reason your ceremony is postposed), you will be required to turn in your expired license and pay for a new one. The cost for the marriage license itself is $27.50, plus $5 for each certified copy of your marriage certificate and a $0.50 mailing charge per transaction.
If you are traveling in from out-of-state, for most of you that means you won't be able to come into town to apply for your marriage license until you arrive the week of your wedding. You also need to apply for your license before 72 hours prior to your date (so, no later than Wednesday for a Saturday wedding) as there is a 72-hour waiting period in place from the time you receive your license to the time of the ceremony. There are two offices in New Orleans where you can apply:
- Orleans Parish Marriage License Office, Benson Tower, 1450 Poydras Street, Suite 407, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112. Office hours are 8:15am -3:15pm Monday through Friday (except for state holidays). 504.593.5100 (Google Map)
- Second City Court of New Orleans, Historic Algiers Courthouse, 225 Morgan Street, Algiers, Louisiana 70114. Office hours are 9:00am-3:00pm Monday through Friday (except for state holidays). 504.368.4099 (Google Map)
However, if you and your groom are both from out-of-state, are getting married in Orleans Parish, AND your officiant is registered in Orleans Parish, then your officiant can waive the waiting period by attaching a waiver to your marriage certificate. This is super useful if you are unable to come into town until Thursday or Friday before your Saturday wedding! At the time you apply for your marriage license, be sure to ask the Office of Vital Records where you can obtain a waiver if you will be married within the 72-hour waiting period.
The great news is, only one of you needs to be present to apply for the marriage license in person. Again, if you are traveling in from out of town separately from your betrothed the week of your wedding, either of you can visit the Office of Vital records (with documentation in hand for both parties) and apply as soon as you come into town. Louisiana also does not require a prenuptial medical examination or blood test, so you need not worry about having to do that in advance!
The documents you will need to present at the time of application are:
- A current driver's license, state ID or passport
- A certified birth certificate or certified birth card for both parties
- Social Security Numbers for both applicants - if one or both of you do not have a social security number because you were born in another country, you can submit a waiver and also must appear in person at the time of the application.
- A certified copy of the final divorce decree if either party has been previously married and divorced
- A certified copy of the death certificate of the former spouse if either party has been previously married and widowed
After the wedding, your officiant will mail in the completed marriage license (with signature from the bride and groom, two witnesses, and the officiant) to the Office of Vital Records. Be sure to use black ink only and also do not fill in the covenant marriage portion of the certificate as it will cause a major delay in the processing of your license. You will receive certified copies of your marriage certificate in the mail several weeks after your wedding, and you will select the number of copies you wish to purchase at the time you submit your application.
On the day of your wedding, you will fill out two forms: one is your actual marriage license which will be returned to the state, the other is a temporary marriage certificate with the same signatures as your official license. You will want to fill out both forms completely, but be sure to keep the temporary marriage certificate (don't mail it in)! That is for your personal records and you will need this information on file until your certified marriage license arrives in the mail. The temporary certificate is a half sheet of paper, while the marriage license itself is a full 8.5" x 11" size, so you'll know the difference when you have them in hand.
You will use the temporary certificate to update your health and/or life insurance information as proof of a "significant change in circumstances" (i.e. marriage) which most insurance companies will require you to update within 30 days of your wedding date. Also, if you choose to file jointly for your federal income taxes, you will need this temporary certificate on hand until you receive your official documentation. Of course, consult your personal CPA for advice on what change (if any) in federal income tax filing status will be most beneficial for you. If you are planning to change your name on your driver's license/state identification and social security number, you will also need to bring this temporary certificate with you as proof of your marriage until you have received your certified copy.
That's all, folks! It really is a simple process if you prepare yourself in advance and make sure all of your paperwork is in order. The time to start thinking about this is now (it's never to early to start) but definitely have your documents in hand within the 30 days prior to your wedding date.