Before you can get married, you need to apply for and receive a marriage license. This is the document in your state that allows you to officially "tie the knot" under the law.
When you apply for your license, you will not only need a proof of identification and age, but you will need to provide any information about previous marriages and will need to pay a nominal fee. The bride will need to know what her married name will be before she signs the marriage certificate. You will have to write that name on the application. The date of marriage has to be listed on the application as well.
Just because you have your marriage license sent to you in the mail does not mean you are officially married. You need to have a justice of the peace or a religious clergyman sign the document. On your wedding day, you will give your chaplain your marriage license; then after the ceremony, he will sign it and send it to the proper government agency for validation. The judge in Habersham County no longer performs marriage ceremonies.
Obtaining a marriage license is simple. The prospective groom and bride should come to the Probate Judge's office to fill out a Marriage Application. They will need to bring along the following items necessary to complete the application and the supplement-marriage report:
- Proof of identity (please refer to ID Requirements below)
- Social Security numbers for supplement-marriage report (optional - failure to list one does not bar the validity of the supplemental report)
- Divorce papers if any (must have copy of final decree)
- License fee of $77 (subject to change at any time); $37 if you have had counseling (if you have had the required six hours of counseling, you must have proof before you can receive the discounted price - see Pre-marital Education section below)
After the marriage license application has been issued, the couple may be married at any time. There is no waiting period.
Additional Georgia Marriage Requirements
ID Requirement: Must be a picture ID.
Residency Requirement: Do not have to be a resident of Georgia. However, if not a resident, you must apply in the county where the marriage is to be performed.
Pre-marital Education: Under House Bill 378, a “qualifying premarital education program” shall include at least six hours of “instruction involving marital issues, which may include but not be limited to conflict management, communication skills, financial responsibilities, child and parenting responsibilities, and extended family roles.” The couple must have undergone the pre-marital education together. To qualify, the pre-marital education must have been performed by: (1) a professional counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist; (2) a psychiatrist; (3) a psychologist; or (4) an active member of the clergy when in the course of his or her service as clergy, or the designee of such active member of the clergy, provided the designee is skilled and trained in pre-marital education.
To qualify for the reduced fee, the couple must provide the Court a signed and dated certificate of completion of a qualifying pre-marital education program. The Court has an acceptable certificate which you may take to the pre-marital education provider.
Application Requirement: Both the bride and groom must appear in person at the time of applying.
Previous Marriage: You will need to show a copy of your most recent divorce decree or spouse's death certificate.
Waiting Period: No waiting period.
Other Tests: As of July 1, 2003, blood tests are no longer required in Georgia.
Under 18: If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may apply if accompanied by both parents who will give written consent.
Proxy Marriages: No
Cousin Marriages: Yes
Common Law Marriages: No
Same Sex Marriages: No
Officiant: Any minister who is authorized by his or her church may perform marriages. Ministers must complete a certificate of marriage and return it to the Probate Judge within 30 days after the marriage.
Valid: License has no specified time frame. The license can only be used within the State of Georgia.
Please note that state and county marriage license requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice. It is important that you verify all information before making any wedding or travel plans.