You’ve met your perfect match, and now, the two of you want to get married. You likely have high aspirations for your wedding day—maybe you know exactly what you’re going to wear, or you’re already strategizing seating arrangements in your head. It’s all so exciting, but there are some nitty-gritty legal steps to take care of before the celebrations begin.
In addition to all the specifics of organizing your wedding, you will have to abide by your state’s marriage laws and application procedures.
Marriage is about love, but it’s also a legal agreement. Because of this, there are detailed laws and regulations that couples must follow to obtain a marriage license. While there are federal laws in place protecting rights such as same-sex marriage, details such as marrying age, waiting periods, and validity windows vary from state to state.
While it may seem overwhelming, you don’t have to let the complexities of this system get the best of you. Having a thorough understanding of all parts of the process can help you move through it with ease.
This article will explore and explain the laws that couples getting married in Arkansas need to know. Once you get the hang of the legal processes, you can turn to Zola for help with planning your celebration—it’s our mission to bring even your loftiest wedding dreams within reach. Read on to learn more about the steps you should take to reach your big day.
Given that your marriage will be recorded and approved by the state, you must follow the state’s laws to be officially married. If you’re hoping to get married in Arkansas, it’s necessary to understand and adhere to all of the following Arkansas marriage laws.
This is the first step in making your marriage official. So, what exactly is a marriage license? According to Brides, it’s “a legal document obtained by a couple prior to marriage.” The marriage license is a document that you sign and return to your local county clerk’s office before you obtain your official marriage certificate.
Getting a marriage license is a bit like applying to be married, just as you would apply to a school or a job. However, it does not inherently mean that you are married.
To obtain a marriage license, you will have to pay a fee. The fee for a marriage license in Arkansas is $60. This fee must be paid in cash or credit card, as checks are not accepted.
Take care to hold onto the marriage license document during this period, as losing it may incur additional fees. According to Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth, “If a couple loses the license before returning it, the cost for a replacement in Pulaski County is $10.”
While some states have waiting periods in place to make sure that people applying for a marriage license are serious about the pursuit, you won’t have to worry about that for an Arkansas wedding.
In Arkansas, as long as both parties are at least 18 years of age, there is no waiting period for obtaining a marriage certificate.
However, Arkansas does allow males aged 17 and older and females aged 16 and older to be married with parental consent, in which case there is a waiting period of five days for a marriage license.
While once a requirement in most states, Arkansas does not require blood tests as part of the marriage license application process.
You don’t have to be a resident of Arkansas to obtain a marriage license in Arkansas. The only requirement for your Arkansas marriage license is that you get married within the state.
An Arkansas marriage license is valid anywhere in the state, but you must return it signed to the same county clerk’s office where you initially obtained it.
Witnesses are not required for a marriage in Arkansas. While you may want to share these special moments with friends and family, you don’t need to have anyone present besides you, your partner, and the officiant who will carry out the wedding ceremonies.
The legal age of marriage in Arkansas is 18 years of age. At 18 or above, anyone can apply for and receive a marriage license. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including:
Males aged 17 with parental consent.
Females aged 16 and 17 with parental consent.
A court order can be issued in extenuating circumstances for a younger person—this may occur if a woman is pregnant or the couple shares a child, even if one or both of them is younger than the state’s legal age of marriage.
You may not need witnesses to get married in Arkansas, but you will still need an officiant to help you say “I do.” A wedding officiant is a person who is legally certified to perform marriage ceremonies. The officiant will also have to fill out some parts of the marriage license. Arkansas state laws state that an officiant can be:
A Justice of the Peace in Arkansas, as well as “any former Justice of the Peace who served at least two terms since 1977.” Justices of the Peace are officials who sit on state courts. They are not affiliated with any religion.
A minister whose official license or certificate is recorded in any county in Arkansas. Ministers are often associated with a religion or even a specific church.
Getting a marriage license is a crucial step in making your marriage official. Only after you do this can you have a wedding, become legally married, and obtain a marriage certificate—the document that legally declares that you’re married.
If you plan to get married in Arkansas, you’ll need an Arkansas marriage license, whether or not you reside in that state. Read on to learn more about the steps you will need to follow to obtain an Arkansas marriage license.
When you visit the county clerk’s office, you want to know what you are asking for. First, which type of marriage license will you need? The state of Arkansas offers two types of marriages: regular marriages and covenant marriages.
Regular Marriage: This is a standard marriage between two people of legal marrying age, or potentially younger if parental consent is provided. A regular marriage follows all state marriage laws.
Covenant Marriage: A covenant marriage involves more rules than a regular marriage. They require the couple to receive couples counseling before their marriage. In the case of a potential divorce, the couple must also receive counseling before they get divorced. Covenant marriages exist as an attempt to lower divorce rates and make marriages last longer.
Ultimately, the type of marriage that you choose is a personal decision. Talk it over with your partner, and think about what both of your desires and priorities are to make an informed choice.
To obtain a marriage license, both parties must provide valid identification that verifies their name and date of birth. Some accepted identification documents include:
Each party is responsible for providing one of the above documents. This helps ensure that both parties are of legal marrying age and that they are who they say they are. Additionally, both parties must be physically present for the marriage license to be issued.
In the case that one party has undergone a name change due to divorce and this change is not reflected on their identification document, they must additionally present a divorce decree to confirm their identity and legal name.
To sort out any potential bumps in the road beforehand, it’s best practice to organize your documents in advance of applying for your marriage license. For example, if you need to replace an expired ID, you will want to begin that process before applying for a marriage license, as that process can take some time.
You may begin planning your wedding long before it’s set to occur. However, you will not want to apply for a marriage license too early before the wedding date, as marriage licenses have expiration dates.
An Arkansas marriage license expires 60 days after it is issued. Regardless of whether it has been used, the couple must return the license within 60 days to the courthouse so that it can be properly filed and processed for government records.
You must return your marriage license to the courthouse where you initially obtained it. You have until the end of the 60-day period to do so. Once you return your license, it will be officially recorded.
If a couple fails to return a marriage license within 60 days, they will face a $100 fine.
This may seem like a lot to add to your already overflowing wedding-planning plate. Zola’s expert wedding advice and resources can help guide you through the logistics and the fun part of wedding planning. Check out our ultimate wedding checklist or our wedding resource library to get started!
Your wedding day is important—not only do you want everything to run smoothly, but you also want it to reflect the magnitude of the love that you and your partner feel towards each other.
Considering both the timing and organization of your marriage is crucial to having the wedding you’ve always dreamed of.
Since there is no waiting period for a marriage license for consenting adults, you can apply for a marriage license whenever the 60-day validity window lines up with your planned wedding date.
It’s always a good idea to organize the necessary documents, such as your driver’s license and payment, in advance. This way, everything is ready to go when you need it. You don’t want bureaucracy to hold you back from enjoying your wedding day.
Since the license is only valid for 60 days, you will need to get married within its validity window. Applying a little earlier than necessary allows space for you to work out any obstacles under low pressure.
After the 60-day window, you will need to return your license to the county clerk’s office where you obtained it. This needs to be done in person and is necessary to avoid a $100 fine.
A marriage certificate is a document stating that your marriage is official. Arkansas charges $10 per copy of a marriage certificate ordered. This can be done in several ways:
Online: You can order a copy online through the Arkansas government’s Vital Records service. Be prepared to wait seven to 14 days for processing, plus some additional days to accommodate shipping.
Mail: To request a copy by mail, you can mail your completed application, your payment, and your valid form of identification to the Arkansas Department of Health. Processing can take 10 to 14 days, with additional shipping time.
Walk-In: If you’re near the state’s capital of Little Rock, you can walk into the Department of Health to request a copy in person. If you visit before 4:00 p.m., your request can likely be processed the same day, and either be mailed to them or picked up the following day. The hours for walk-ins are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You must also have a valid ID and payment.
Phone: If you would like to order a copy by phone, you can do so by calling (866) 209-9482.
If you are confused by any of this, you’re not alone. Below are some questions you may have, and advice for how to handle them like an expert.
No matter what state you’re from, you can use an Arkansas marriage license to get married anywhere in Arkansas. There is no state residency requirement necessary for obtaining an Arkansas marriage license.
You should begin this process so that the dates where you will have a valid marriage license coincide with the date on which you plan to get married. In Arkansas, you will either have no waiting period or a waiting period of five days to obtain your marriage license. After you obtain the license, you have 60 days to use and return it.
For example, you can start applying for a marriage license about a month out from your wedding date. This should give you enough time to gather all necessary materials and account for any issues that may arise.
An Arkansas marriage license is valid for 60 days, and you can get married at any point within that time frame. After the 60 days have passed, you must return the license to the same office at which you applied for it.
The state wants to ensure that every marriage license is recorded correctly and promptly. The expiration dates exist to minimize the number of unresolved marriage licenses in circulation.
Don’t know when your wedding date is going to be yet? Not a problem.
While you may want to hold off on a marriage license until you have an exact time frame in mind, you can get started working with Zola before you know when your big day will be. For example, free date changes are included with your purchase of Zola’s save the dates. They’re not only practical, but they’re stylish, customizable, and there’s a design for every couple and every wedding.
Once you have your date in mind, let us know, and we can make sure that everything gets on track with your plans.
Marriage is a celebratory occasion, but it also involves a lot of hard work. From getting to know your partner and supporting each other, to following the legal requirements necessary to obtain your marriage certificate, there are a lot of steps you have to take to reach your wedding day.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should feel overwhelmed (at least, not with anything but love and excitement). You and your future spouse have likely come a long way to get here, and Zola is here to help make your wedding planning as seamless as can be.
Your life together is just beginning—let’s work together to get it off to a great start.