So what happens if a couple shows up to their wedding without their marriage license?
Strangely this happens all the time.
They either got it and left it at home or completely neglected to get prior to the ceremony.
We try to remind our couples to make sure they bring it to the wedding but as the saying goes "shit happens"
The answer is the couple cannot be legally married without a marriage license present. If the Officiant performs the wedding ceremony without a valid marriage license they have committed a misdemeanor.
So what can be done?
The couple will have to have a commitment ceremony in this case. We have forms for them to sign explaining that they do not have a valid marriage license and therefore cannot be legally married but we will perform a commitment ceremony but without the words …married …husband ….wife. At the end we pronounce them partners for life.
If we don't have that for present without our smart phones and have them acknowledge on video that they understand it will only be a commitment ceremony.
We then perform the ceremony as a commitment ceremony and for the most part none of their guests know the difference.
A couple of them need to set an appointment with us to sign the actual document. Unfortunately that document cannot be backdated. It has to be signed on the date is presented.
The reason why we are such sticklers on this is because it is a living breathing legal document. It is a partnership agreement between two people and therefore must be adhered to in the strictest sense of the law so there is never any issue that can come up at a future date. We do this for our protection and the couples.
So what happens if the officiant goes ahead and performs the ceremony without a license present?
Well the marriage license police are not going to arrest them. But if it's one of my officiant's they will lose their position. It's not worth jeopardizing the couples legal status and the officiant's ability to perform ceremonies just to have it say a certain date.
When this happens I tell couples well now you have two wedding dates the one where you had your party and the one you were legally married. Now you have to buy each other two gifts.
So if you are coordinator or an officiant or a venue manager, make sure you remind your couples to have their marriage license present on the wedding day this way you will avoid any challenges.
I feel so bad when I tell a couple I'm sorry I can't legally marry you today. It breaks their heart but I know I've reminded them multiple times and by their error it is something I cannot resolve. But I always make the best of the situation.
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