Six Important Things to Remember When Getting Your Marriage License

So a very practical post today.  

Yesterday Ben and I got our marriage license!

It’s one of those things that didn’t immediately come to mind when I thought about wedding planning, but it’s obviously a very important step.

I wanted to provide some practical insight into the process for you other first timers. In addition to being a very practical post, it really only applies to those applying for a license in Cook County, since the rules for obtaining a license differ for each county and state.

  1. Be Ready to Wait: We made sure to get to the county clerk’s office right when it opened because I had to get to work. We got there at 8:40 am (10 minutes after they opened) and there were already six couples in front of us. The woman helping us, who was very nice, said people are usually waiting in line right when the office opens. She added that it was a mad house when same-sex marriage first became legal. I guess it’s a good thing we waited a little bit.
  2. Bring Money With You: The fee for us to get our license was $60. The charged us an additional $1.75 for using a debit or credit card.
  3. Have your ID Handy:  We had to present ID when we checked in. We were a little scared because our driver’s licenses had our old address on them. Turns out, that doesn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that I looked differently in the picture on my license. The lady helping us thought I looked like Tyler Perry in my photo (which is the first time I’ve ever heard that).
  4. Know Your Vital Info: In order to complete the license application, we had to answer all the vital questions you would anticipate: name, social security number, where we were born. But we also needed to know our parents’ birth state and mother’s maiden name.  The most interesting question we were asked, especially for those who know me and Ben, was if we were related.
  5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute or Too Long: After we got our license, our lady made sure we understood we couldn’t get married until the next day, and we only had 60 days to get married.  In addition, only one officiant can sign the license. We were hoping both of our officiants, our mothers, could sign, but apparently they don’t like multiple signatures at the clerk’s office.  
  6. Don’t Forget the Marriage Certificate: After the ceremony, we have to mail or deliver the signed and completed license back to the clerk’s office.  We can obtain a copy of our marriage certificate approximately 10 days after we bring back the license. The first certificate costs $15 and $4 for each additional certificate.

Ben and I are one significant step closer to becoming a legally married couple. To be honest, I wasn’t all that excited about getting the license while we were doing it. Ben, on the other hand, was ecstatic starting the night before. (He even sent me a picture of the license during the day, as a reminder that we got it.)

But now that I’m writing about it, I feel the significance. Many people have fought to make Ben and I getting to do this a reality, and that’s not lost on me.

It’s was funny nervously looking around at all of other couples and seeing them nervously looking back. All of us were realizing the legal and seemingly permanent aspect of what we were doing.

Ben and I were the only same-sex pairing there, which was also significant to me. We got to go through the same nerve wracking, tedious experience that all couples embarking on this next step get to go through. To me, that’s true equality.