Congratulations on your decision to get married! This is one of the most important and stressful decisions you can make! After all, deciding to get married is one thing. Actually knowing what to do so that you can actually, legally, call yourself someone's husband or wife is quite another. Sadly, it is more complicated than just having a fancy party in which you wear fancy clothes. At the same time, when you know what to do, the process isn't nearly as scary! Here is how to make sure that the state of Pennsylvania, will consider you legally married.
Who is allowed to get married in Pennsylvania?
Any individuals over the age of 18 are allowed to get married, provided that they are not already married to someone else. Marriage can only be between two people (sorry those of you who might be polyamorous).
Is same sex marriage allowed in Pennsylvania?
At this time Pennsylvania does not recognize or allow same sex marriage. It also does not recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships.
What if I am not yet 18?
Pennsylvania does allow people who aren't yet 18 to get married.
If you are 16-17, depending upon the county in which you are applying, you will need to provide either written consent from your parent or legal guardian or have your parent or legal guardian go with you to give consent when you file. If your parent or guardian needs to appear with you, he or she will need to be able to provide valid identification as well as legal proof of parentage or guardianship.
If you are age 15 (or younger than fifteen), your parent will need to appear at the time you apply for your marriage license. You will also need to get your marriage application approved by a judge from the Orphans' court.
There are extra fees for marriage applications filed by people under the age of eighteen. They vary from county to county so check with your local Orphan's Court to find out what the actual fees are. Fees must be paid in cash. There are also extra fees if your parent or guardian does not reside within the county in which you are filing your application.
When in doubt, call ahead!
Can I marry my cousin?
Nope! And, before you ask, there is no way to get around this.
What if I am already married to another person
You cannot be married at the time that you file your marriage application. You are going to need to get divorced or file for an annulment.
What if I have already been married (but am not now)?
It depends on the situation.
If you were married but got divorced or had the marriage annulled, you will need to provide legal proof that the divorce or annulment has been processed and finalized. Your divorce settlement should work here.
If you were married but your spouse has passed away, you will need to show the death certificate for that spouse at the time that you file for your application.
What if I used to have a different name?
It doesn't matter why the name you have now is not the same as the name you used to have. You must provide legal proof that you have officially and legally changed your name to whatever it is that you are using now at the time you apply to get married. This is almost always a certified decree of the court.
Can I get married as soon as I file?
No. There is a mandatory waiting period of a minimum of three days that must pass between the time you file your application and when your marriage can be legalized. If you anticipate a problem and need to have the waiting period waived, you need to notify the court in advance. You can usually do this by mailing in proof of your anticipated wedding date (like an invitation).
There are circumstances in which the waiting period can be waived, but you almost always have to ask for this well in advance of your wedding date. Call your local Orphan's Court or Marriage License Bureau to get the details on what you need to do for your county.
My marriage license application is good forever, right?
No! You have to wait three days but you only have sixty days from the time you file your marriage license application to have your ceremony officiated and have the license filed with the court and made legal. If more than sixty days passes, you must fill out another application and pay the fees all over again.
Is my marriage license county specific?
No! You can apply for a marriage license in any county and have it made official in any county. This makes it much easier if you plan to have your ceremony in another part of the state. Your marriage license cannot be made official outside of Pennsylvania, though! If you want to get married outside of the Pennsylvania state lines, you will need to contact that state and see what kind of laws they have for marriage licenses.
What if I don't want to go through the hassle of a ceremony? can't I just have a common law marriage?
Unless you declared yourself married by common law prior to 2005, you cannot simply have a common law marriage and be done with it. Pennsylvania stopped issuing common law marriage certificates as of January 1, 2005.
How do I apply for a Pennsylvania marriage license?
You and your future spouse must visit the Marriage License Bureau (or Orphan's Court) and fill out the application together. Proxies are not allowed.
You will both need to have two forms of identification. The first is a current and valid form of photo identification. This can be your driver's license, state issued ID card, passport, military ID, etc. The second is either your social security card or an official document that contains your social security number (like a W-2, tax forms, etc).
If one of you doesn't currently have a social security number, you are going to need to be able to provide a birth certificate or some other form of official identification.
The best thing to do if you want to make sure your bases are covered here, is to call your local marriage license bureau or orphan's court and ask them what you should bring in.
Are blood tests required?
How much does it cost?
The fees vary from city to city and from county to county. Contact your local officials before you go in to make sure that you know how much you will be expected to pay. This is important because the office will not take credit cards or checks. You must pay your fees in cash at the time that you are applying. So call ahead and make sure you visit the ATM before you go in to fill out your application!
Who can marry us?
Within the state of Pennsylvania, you have a few options when it comes to ceremony officiants. You have the typical religious officiants (priests, ministers, rabbis, pastors, etc). You can also get married by a judge or a justice of the peace.
You can also sometimes perform your own marriage ceremony! It's true! Within the state of Pennsylvania, it is sometimes possible to self-officiate your marriage ceremony. The rules on this vary from one area to another so make sure that you call the Marriage License Bureau or Orphan's Court before you go in to find out what those requirements are. It is important to find this out beforehand because you have to state that you plan on self-officiating before you apply for your marriage license (and you almost always have to pay an additional fee).
What about getting ordained online?
This is iffy. Sometimes the state will recognize the authority of a web-based ordained minister and sometimes they will not. There have been cases in which a marriage license wasn't validated because the minister didn't have an actual congregation. Check with your local authorities! Do not assume that, since this is usually allowed in most other places in the United States that it will be allowed in your city or county.
Are proxy marriages allowed in Pennsylvania?
What if I am changing my name?
After you get married you'll receive a marriage certificate which will serve as proof of your marriage. This document will be useful when notifying the necessary government agencies of your new name, as well as any non-government agencies. If you need help to streamline the name change process you can use an online name change service to help you get going.
Where to Go
Where do I physically need to go to get my marriage license?
Pennsylvania has 67 offices where a marriage license can be acquired. Simply choose a location below to visit. Phone numbers as well as map and accompanying driving direction links are provided for every address.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Kittanning, PA 16201
Beaver, PA 15009
Bedford, PA 15522
County Recorders Office
Reading, PA 19601
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Towanda, PA 18848
Doylestown, PA 18901
Butler, PA 16001
Ebensburg, PA 15931
Emporium, PA 15834
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
Bellefonte, PA 16823
Westchester, PA 19380
Clarion, PA 16214
Clearfield, PA 16830
Lock Haven, PA 17745
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Meadville, PA 16335
Carlisle, PA 17013
Harrisburg, PA 17108
Media, PA 19063
Ridgway, PA 15853
Erie, PA 16501
Uniontown, PA 15401
Tionesta, PA 16353
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Mc Connellsburg, PA 17233
Waynesburg, PA 15370
Huntingdon, PA 16652
Indiana, PA 15701
Brookville, PA 15825
Mifflintown, PA 17059
Scraton, PA 18503
Lancaster, PA 17603
Newcastle, PA 16101
Lebanon, PA 17042
Allentown, PA 18105
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Williamsport, PA 17701
Smethport, PA 16749
Mercer, PA 16137
Lewistown, PA 17044
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
Norristown, PA 19404
Danville, PA 17821
Easton, PA 18042
Sunbury, PA 17801
New Bloomfield, PA 17068
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Milford, PA 18337
Coudersport, PA 16915
Pottsville, PA 17901
Middleburg, PA 17842
Somerset, PA 15501
La Porte, PA 18626
Montrose, PA 18801
Wellsboro, PA 16901
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Franklin, PA 16323
Warren, PA 16365
Washington, PA 15301
Honesdale, PA 18431
Greensburg, PA 15601
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
York, PA 17401