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So you’re getting married in Philadelphia. First, congratulations! Even in the less exciting moments of wedding planning, it’s nice to remember that you’re working towards something beautiful. Maybe the thought of heading to City Hall makes you cringe. Luckily, getting a marriage license in Philadelphia isn’t particularly complicated if you have all your documentation ready and understand the process ahead of time. This guide can help you navigate the process so you can focus on your celebration instead of the red tape.
To get legally married in Pennsylvania, you have to:
One thing that’s great about a Pennsylvania marriage license is that you don’t have to get married in the county where it was issued. That means you could get your marriage license in Philadelphia County and choose a venue outside the city or vice versa.
In most cases, you only need two things to apply for a marriage license in Philadelphia: a government-issued photo ID and a document with your social security number.
You can use any of the following as your photo ID:
You also have multiple options for showing documentation of your social security number, including:
Don’t have a social security number? You can bring a second ID instead. Bring either a birth certificate or second photo ID.
Once you have all of your documents gathered, you can make your appointment by emailing MLAppt@phila.gov. The Marriage License Department of the Register of Wills recommends reaching out two months prior to your wedding date. Even if you’re planning a low key elopement, reach out as soon as you have your date picked to avoid a last-minute scramble.
Both marriers must be present at the appointment with all of their required documents. You can only make appointments during regular business hours Monday through Friday, so be prepared to set aside that time. The Marriage License Department is in City Hall in Room 413.
Other than your two forms of ID from the lists above, you don’t need to fill out any paperwork ahead of time. You’ll do it all at your appointment. Also bring a credit card or money order with you. The Office of Wills doesn’t accept cash or checks.
If you require disability accommodations for your appointment, you can request support through the city’s reasonable modification policy. Mention any needs when you first reach out to make your appointment to make sure you get appropriate support.
There are a few circumstances where you may need to bring additional documentation to your appointment for your marriage license in Philadelphia.
Widowed applicants need to submit a certified copy of their late spouse’s death certificate. Divorced applicants need to submit a copy of their divorce decrees.
Submit a certified court decree.
You can bring a translator, or the Register of Wills can provide one. Just contact them a few days in advance to confirm that you would like to make these arrangements.
Every county is a bit different when it comes to marriage licenses and requirements. Here are a few things you should know about getting married in Philadelphia County.
Quaker ceremonies, or self-uniting ceremonies, are weddings that take place without a licensed officiant. Instead, the marriers run the show! This is a cool option that’s only available in a handful of states in the whole country.
If you opt for a Quaker ceremony, make sure you mention it at your appointment. There aren’t too many procedural differences. It will just cost $10 more to apply for your marriage license in Philadelphia. A self-uniting ceremony costs $100 instead of $90 for a ceremony with an officiant. Some suburban counties charge less, so check out those rates too if you live outside the city.
Here’s another reason not to wait until the last minute to get your marriage license in Philadelphia. There’s a three-day waiting period between submitting your application and a license being issued. Not even an elopement can be completely spur of the moment in Pennsylvania.
Once you’ve had your ceremony and signed your license, you need to return it to the Marriage License Department within 10 days. Don’t head off on your honeymoon without making arrangements for its timely return!
Now you have all the information you need for your marriage license in Philadelphia! Are you looking for a Philadelphia wedding photographer? I’m a film wedding photographer ready to document your story. Reach out to me here!