You and your significant other are planning the wedding of your dreams in Arizona. Whether you’ve opted for a Sedona soirée or an Antelope Canyon elopement, your special day is practically here. Now you just have to navigate through all of the marriage legalities.
Getting to know your state’s marriage laws is important, indeed, but it doesn’t have to be as big of a headache as you might anticipate. Here, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Arizona marriage laws.
What, exactly, is a marriage license? Who qualifies as an officiant or a witness at your ceremony?
If you’re drawing a blank on these questions, you’re not alone. A lot of this is completely new information for spouses-to-be. Keep reading for an overview of what you’ll need to consider as you move forward with your Arizona wedding.
Marriage License: Marriage licenses are a requirement for couples wishing to wed. Not the same as marriage certificates (more on this below), this document is what grants couples legal permission to marry. Though traditional marriage licenses are most common, Arizona does grant an alternative type of license: a covenant marriage license. Keep reading to find out how to apply and what documentation you’ll need to present in order to be approved in Arizona.
Marriage License Fees: Marriage licenses come at a price. Each state—and sometimes each county within each state—sets its own cost for filing for a marriage license. You’ll also want to find out what types of payment your local court clerk’s office accepts. Some states provide online payment options, while others require payment by cash or check only.
Waiting Periods: You got your marriage license on a Friday, so that means you’re all set to get married on Saturday, right? Perhaps not. Some states require couples to wait a few days—or more—before making things official.
Blood Tests: Premarital blood tests aren’t as common as they used to be, but they could be your ticket to marriage license approval.
Residency Requirements: You’re from New England where weather can be notoriously finicky, so you’ve always dreamed of a destination wedding in sunny Arizona. Before booking a venue and planning out the ceremony, make sure there aren’t any special procedures required for out-of-state couples. More on Arizona’s residency requirements below.
Witnesses: If you had your heart set on a private wedding just for you and your spouse-to-be, you’ll want to double check to make sure you won’t need any witnesses in addition to your officiant. Again, there’s no set standard across the board for this, so checking your state laws before proceeding with your wedding plans is a must.
Legal Age of Marriage: The legal age of consent country-wide is 18 years old. Some states may make exceptions for minors who wish to marry—but not without consent from a parent, guardian, or court official. If you’re under the age of 18, find out what the laws of your state require of you before saying “I do.”
Officiant Qualifications: State laws about who is legally permitted to officiate your ceremony vary. Oklahoma, for example, does not allow justices of the peace to act as wedding officiants. For civil ceremonies, in particular, you’ll want to refer to local state laws about what’s a go and what’s a no.
Now that you’re familiar with these terms and expectations, let’s dive into Arizona state specifics.
Before your big day, you’ll need to give yourself enough time to apply for a marriage license. Even if you or your partner have been married before and are familiar with this procedure, it’s still a good idea to take another look into state protocols to find out what’s required and what’s not.
Since you’re getting married in Arizona, here’s a look at what’s unique to this state’s application process.
The state of Arizona offers two types of marriage licenses to applicants: a traditional marriage license and a covenant marriage license. A covenant marriage, often rooted in religious tradition, requires premarital counseling before applying for a license. In these types of unions, a divorce is only granted under specific circumstances deemed justifiable by state law.
Couples seeking an alternative may simply apply for a traditional marriage license. Each type of license requires a different set of documents. Read on to see what you need to present in order to ensure your license is granted.
The documents required for a traditional marriage license include:
Social Security number and/or card Government-issued photo identification such as:
The documents required for a covenant marriage license include:
A signed affidavit confirming that the couple has met the premarital counseling requirements
A written statement, signed by both partners, that declares the intentions of the covenant marriage
A valid form of ID such as the ones listed above
Note: Both parties must be in attendance when applying for a marriage license.
Arizona law requires a filing fee of $83 to be paid when applying for a marriage license in this state. Check with the local Justice Court offices to determine the acceptable forms of payment.
Note: There is also a fee of $30 for any couple who wishes to convert their traditional marriage license to a covenant marriage license.
There is no waiting period for couples choosing to get married in the state of Arizona. The license is considered valid immediately upon approval.
An Arizona marriage license is valid for up to 12 months after the date of issuance.
After the ceremony, your marriage license must be signed by both you and your partner, as well as the officiant and two additional witnesses. The signed copy must be returned by the officiant to the office in which it was granted no later than 30 days after the date of the ceremony.
At this point, make sure you’ve entered all important dates and deadlines into your calendar to help you stay on top of it all. Or, if you’d rather keep important wedding-related dates separate from your work calendar, build your own customizable wedding checklist. Add or remove tasks as necessary, and turn on push notifications to get a heads-up when key deadlines are approaching.
The next task you’ll want to add to the list? Reviewing these special marriage considerations regarding Arizona state laws:
Be sure you meet Arizona’s legal age requirements: All adults 18 years or older are eligible to be married without parental consent in the state of Arizona. Applicants between 16 and 17 years of age must present consent from a parent or legal guardian. The written consent must be notarized, signed by the individual providing consent, and submitted to the clerk’s office. Anyone under 16 years old who wishes to get married in the state of Arizona must provide a birth certificate, notarized consent from a parent or guardian, as well as a court order.
Don’t forget to request certified copies of your marriage certificate: Many insurance companies and banks will request certified copies of your marriage certificate in order to add partners onto an insurance plan or a bank account. In Arizona, you’ll need to request copies from the local Justice Court office where you filed your license. In most cases, an additional fee of $30.50 per copy is required. Payment may be made by money order.
Proxy marriages are not an option: There are a handful of states across the country that allow for proxy marriages. In this case, one of the individuals to be married may be replaced by a substitute who can accept the vows of marriage on their behalf. This may be the case for couples who are separated due to travel restrictions or military service. However, the state laws of Arizona prohibit proxy marriages from occurring.
You may not even know where to start when it comes to asking questions about legal matters. No problem. Here’s a look at some of the most common inquiries.
Good news for non-residents: There are no laws in this state that prohibit couples from out of state from getting married here. In some cases, non-residents must file their license in the county in which their out-of-state ceremony is set to take place.
The Arizona Bar Foundation, however, makes no particular mention of special procedures for non-resident couples. You’ll want to call to confirm this. Unless you hear otherwise, you should be able to follow the application procedure in your state of residency instead of making a special trip to one of the Justice Court offices in Arizona.
With so much to do before your wedding day, it’s easy to forget a few details here and there. Make sure applying for your marriage license is not one of them. Some states offer marriage licenses that are only valid within a short window of time. Oklahoma marriage licenses, for example, are valid for only 10 days. In this case, couples trying to get ahead of the game won’t be able to apply until 10 days or less before the scheduled date of their ceremony.
Fortunately, Arizona marriage licenses are valid for up to 12 months after the date of issuance. Our professional advice? Start applying as soon as you can—but wait until you’re within a year of your wedding, of course.
There are no laws in Arizona that require couples to wait before getting married. This means that as soon as your marriage license has been issued, you’re free to exchange vows on the spot.
Other states, however, may impose a 24- to 48-hour waiting period from the time a marriage license has been granted and the time a couple is legally allowed to make things official. In fact, some states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin ask the spouses-to-be to wait five days. The reason being? To discourage hasty, elopement-style weddings that couples may later end up regretting.
In Arizona? As soon as the license reaches your hand. Well, technically, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got an officiant and two witnesses first. Otherwise, there are no laws preventing you from making things official right there and then.
These two documents are commonly used as interchangeable terms, but marriage licenses and marriage certificates are not the same. Regardless of where you’re getting married, you’ll want to understand how they’re different.
In the days and weeks leading up to your big day, you’ll need to apply—and be approved for—a marriage license. Once acquired, this document gives you legal permission to go through with the ceremony. After the ceremony, it will need to be signed by you, your spouse, the ceremony officiant, and two witnesses. Upon returning it to the office that issued it to you, you’ll be sent a marriage certificate which, as the name suggests, certifies your legal status as married.
Getting jabbed with a needle before your wedding day doesn’t exactly sound ideal, but it was considered standard procedure for years. (Just ask your parents or grandparents—they’ll confirm.) Premarital blood testing started in the 1930s when there were public health concerns about the spread of diseases such as rubella, syphilis, tuberculosis, and HIV. In order to prevent more people from contracting these diseases, states would regularly schedule blood tests for marrying couples.
As concerns lessened—and funding waned—states stopped requiring them. If you’re making things official in Arizona, there’s no need to worry. This state does not require you to undergo blood testing.
The qualifications for wedding officiants are often state-specific. To be sure the person you’ve put in charge of officiating the wedding ceremony is legally qualified to do so in Arizona, check the list below.
Some of the officiants recognized by the state of Arizona are:
Check with the court clerk’s office before applying for a marriage license to be sure whoever you’ve chosen to marry you and your partner is legally allowed to do so in this state.
Legal matters aside, it’s time to make sure your celebration of love is one you and your guests will remember forever. Don’t let Arizona’s arid climate fool you. It’s a state that’s saturated with tricks to add to the romance and personality of your special. To add some local flair, or to make sure your day goes off without a hitch, consider the tips below.
Keep the weather in mind: Summer, in most places, is hot. Summer in Arizona is smoldering. Temperatures in the summer months are often well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ve got your heart set on marrying in the summer, take our advice and book a venue with indoor, air-conditioned accommodations. Spring and fall, on the other hand, would be a perfect time for an outdoor affair in Arizona.
Apply for the necessary permits: How truly grand it would be to exchange vows with your soulmate at the rim of the Grand Canyon. There are no laws in Arizona that prohibit couples from marrying here, but you will need to apply for a permit and fork over a bit of cash for a national park fee. If you’re interested in holding your ceremony here or at one of Arizona’s other national parks, do some digging to see what you can find about permit requirements. Keep in mind, these natural wonders haven’t just caught your eye. Lots of visitors flock to these locations, so you may need to be flexible with dates.
Embrace the local cuisine: Bursting with both indigenous and Latinx influence, Arizona has more to offer than idyllic scenery and diverse landscapes. The local cuisine has its own charm. What better way to eat your way around the state than to bring an assortment of dishes to you? If you want to add a local touch to the dinner menu or to cocktail hour snacks, consider things like the Hopi piki bread, chollas (edible, unopened cactus blossoms), or the ever-popular tamales. If you really want to shake things up, serve a signature cocktail made with summer sun tea.
Now that you’re well informed about Arizona’s legal marriage jargon, it’s time to dive into the wedding design details.
Whether your vision is already as clear as day, or you’re in need of a nudge in the right direction, Zola is eager to help you along the way.
Here’s what we’re experts at:
Pre-screening wedding venues in your area and making recommendations based on your personal taste.
Managing your guest list and wedding checklist to help you track important dates, guest counts, and prioritize tasks.