How to Obtain a Marriage Certificate

Certified copies of marriage licenses are needed for several kinds of documentations and identification. You may also have a desire to search and find copies of marriage certificates in your ancestral background when researching the family tree. There are three sources in the state where a wedding took place for a person to get a copy of his own official wedding license certificate.


Search for the location of the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the state where the marriage took place and is legally recorded. Write, phone or go online to contact the office to request the certified marriage license.

Contact the county office of the state where the marriage took place to inquire if they hold records of marriage. The state of California, for instance, has marriages on file with the County Recorder. Maine and New Hampshire do not have county records of marriages.

Call, visit or write to the municipality to ask for a certified marriage license copy. All certificates have a fee attached which pays for the clerk's time to look up the record of marriage in the town or city vault, copy, fill in and certify the paper document.

The Process

Record the information the clerk will need to search for the correct marriage license. Write down the bride's full maiden name, groom's full name and the date of the wedding. Verify with the clerk that this is the town or city where the marriage took place before sending her on the search. Municipalities have the right to retain the fee you have paid to go on the search even if you have contacted the wrong municipality or county office.

Inquire what the fee is for this particular town, city, county or state for a certified copy. Ask who the check or money order must be made out to. Most vital statistic offices only take money orders, checks or cash.

Make an appointment to pick up the certified copy of the marriage certificate. If you are having it mailed to you, it is important that you send a clearly addressed and stamped envelope to the clerk. If you need it fast, send a post paid priority label.

Inquire as to how long the clerk expects it to take for you to receive the certificate if it is mailed. Wait this amount of time plus ten business days before contacting the vital statistic office.

Check the marriage certificate to make sure that the date and names are correct when you receive it.