Getting Hitched at the Courthouse
Recently, I was having brunch with a friend who announced that he has big plans to propose to his girlfriend in the near future, and they want a small destination wedding on the beach in Mexico. Having had other friends get married in Mexico, I informed him of some of the crazy requirements for having a legal marriage ceremony there: long waiting periods to obtain a license, extra required documents translated into Spanish, and a plethora of blood tests and x-rays (just to name a few). Yikes!
Hmmm. Is it really that simple? No, but it’s not too difficult, either. If a quick, inexpensive, or private civil wedding ceremony is in your cards, you must still plan ahead and do your homework!
Of course, we all know by now that each jurisdiction in the DMV has different requirements, so here we’ve broken down the basics for you.
Washington, DC Civil Weddings
- One or both parties must apply for a marriage license at the Marriage Bureau in room 4555 of the Moultrie Courthouse for $35.00. Allow 3 full days for the license to be issued.
- While applying for a marriage license, fill out a Civil Wedding Request Form. According to the DC clerk’s website civil wedding ceremonies are currently booked 2-3 weeks out. http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/documents/civil_wedding.pdf
- Get married! The marriage ceremony room at the courthouse holds 10-15 guests. There is no cost for the ceremony, and you will receive your official marriage certificate on the same day for a $10.00 fee.
Virginia Courthouse Weddings
- Both parties must be present to obtain a marriage license. Confirm with your local county clerk’s office, but most will issue the license same day. You must marry within 60 days of the license being issued, but you can get married in any county within the commonwealth.
- Check with the your local clerk’s office regarding the civil ceremony to see if a marriage can be conducted at the courthouse and if appointments are required, as each have different options
For example, in Arlington, a handful of court appointed celebrants located at the courthouse can conduct ceremonies by walk-in or appointment (9:00A-5:00P M-F and by appointment only on the weekends). There is a $50.00 cash only fee. I highly recommend making an appointment for obvious reasons. Here is a link with contact info for the celebrants: http://courts.arlingtonva.us/circuit-court/marriage/
However, the Alexandria Clerk’s Office does not have anyone in the office that can perform a civil ceremony. Contact the clerk’s office directly for a list of civil officiants, and then schedule an appointment with your chosen celebrant.
3. Get married!
Maryland Courthouse Weddings
- One or both parties must obtain a marriage license from the Clerk’s Office in the county that you wish to marry. The license will not be valid until 6:00AM on the 2nd business day.
- There are no Justices of the Peace in MD. Only a judge, Clerk of the Circuit Court, or an appointed Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court may perform civil ceremonies. Check with the County Clerk or License Office directly regarding hours and to schedule and an appointment. Hours vary from office to office, and most counties require a cash only fee of $25.00.
Montgomery County License Department
Prince George’s County Clerk
Anne Arundel County
* Ceremonies performed 9:00A-12:00P and 1:00P-4:00P, no appointment necessary. The Courthouse Wedding Chapel holds up to 30 guests. There is a $25.00 fee (cash or credit).
St. Mary’s County
* Ceremonies performed at the county courthouse from 2:00P-3:00P M-F. The county clerk’s office suggests making an appointment when you apply for your marriage license. There is a $25.00 Cash/Money Order fee for the ceremony.
3. Get married!