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Are a Marriage License and a Marriage Certificate Different?

Most people know that when you get married, you have to get a marriage license. But what about a marriage certificate? Are they two different things and do you need both? The short answer is yes. We’ve written a few times about marriage licenses and how to obtain them through your preferred parish, but did you know that there is also a marriage certificate?

When planning on getting married, a couple must go through the necessary steps to secure a marriage license.

The marriage license is the document that allows two individuals to legally marry. This document must be acquired before the wedding can officially take place (in a legal capacity). Typically, there is a fee that goes along with getting your license and in Louisiana there is a 24-hour waiting period between when a couple is approved and issued a license and when the ceremony can take place. We’ve written an entire guide here just for you, dear reader.

The marriage certificate is a document issued after your wedding that states you are in fact legally married. The certificates should be purchased while obtaining the license and they are sent to a couple a few days or weeks after their officiant returns the signed license after the wedding – and before the license expires 30 days following the issuance. A marriage certificate is what the couple will need a copy of when attempting to change their names, making updates to health insurance or bank accounts, filing taxes and any other official capacity that you must include your spouse.

If there is any issue with obtaining your marriage certificate, you can contact the Clerk of Court in the parish where your marriage took place.

So, while the two are different documents, and you want to keep both in a safe place, they’re both important and necessary when a couple says, “I Do.”

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