From the serenity of the Chihuahuan Desert, to the lively art scenes of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico is a state with a lot to offer. In such a diverse and beautiful place, it’s no surprise that many couples—both local and out-of-state—choose to make New Mexico the backdrop for their wedding day.
While finding the perfect location for your New Mexico wedding won’t be too difficult, other parts of tying the knot in the Land of Enchantment aren’t quite as fun. One example in particular is applying for a marriage license.
That’s right, today we’ll be talking about the ins and outs of making your union official (like, legally official). Your marriage license is an essential part of any legal wedding ceremony. While signing your wedding license is a fairly straightforward part of the process, actually obtaining this essential document isn’t always as simple.
From the state’s unique marriage laws to the license application process, New Mexico couples will learn everything they need to know about this essential wedding document. Read on for a crash course in getting a New Mexico marriage license.
Couples in New Mexico can obtain their marriage license by visiting a county clerk’s office in person. An appointment is not needed when requesting a marriage license application.
Unlike some areas of the US, the state of New Mexico does not enforce a waiting period for couples seeking marriage licenses. This means that you can obtain a New Mexico marriage license and perform the ceremony all in one day. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that variables such as legal issues, delays, and busy county clerk offices can make this process take longer.
Every state will have its own marriage license requirements when it comes to the marriage license application process. In the state of New Mexico, you’ll need to provide the following documents alongside your application paperwork:
Along with the required documents, couples will also need to pay the marriage license fee in cash. The price of this fee is $25 for every county in the state of New Mexico.
Once you’ve obtained a marriage license, you’ll need to hire an officiant to perform your marriage ceremony, sign the document, and return it to the county clerk. In New Mexico, officiants can be any of the following:
In addition to the application process, it’s important that couples also familiarize themselves with the facts and figures related to New Mexico marriage licenses. Here’s what you’ll need to know:
New Mexico Marriage Licenses Don’t Expire – In most US states, there is a limited amount of time where a marriage license will remain valid (prior to performing a wedding ceremony). In New Mexico, however, an unsigned marriage license will never expire. This means that couples can order their marriage license well in advance without having to worry about rushing the ceremony.
The Ceremony Can Be Held Anywhere in New Mexico – A New Mexico marriage license can be used in any county throughout the state. This means that couples are not limited when it comes to the location of their ceremony. Out-of-state couples can also obtain a New Mexico marriage license, even if they aren’t residents of the state. This means that anyone can plan their dream destination wedding in New Mexico—and Zola makes it easy for couples to find their dream venue within that dream destination with our pre-screened wedding venue database.
No Blood Test Is Required — Many people don’t realize that some states still require a blood test in order to obtain a marriage license. This practice is designed to inform each party of any infectious diseases that their future spouse may have, but many people find the process outdated and invasive. Fortunately, New Mexico is one of the many states that has abandoned this requirement.
Void Marriages – There are a handful of reasons why a marriage or marriage license may become void in the state of New Mexico. These circumstances include:
Either spouse was under the age of 16
Every state enforces their own unique laws related to marriage. To give couples a deeper understanding of this process, we’ve outlined some of the most important marriage laws that New Mexico couples should know about:
Marriage by Proxy Is Not Recognized – The term “marriage by proxy” refers to a wedding ceremony where one or both spouses are unable to be present. In this situation, some states allow another individual to stand in for either spouse and complete the ceremony in their absence. In New Mexico, marriage by proxy is not allowed under any circumstances.
You Must Have Witnesses – In the state of New Mexico, couples must have at least two witnesses both attend their wedding ceremony and sign the marriage certificate. There is no minimum age requirement for a witness, so long as they are able to sign their own name on the document.
Spouses Must Be 18 Years of Age – The legal age of marriage in New Mexico is 18 years old, although there are some exceptions. Minors aged 16 or 17 years old may obtain a marriage license with parental consent or written permission from a New Mexico court of law. Emancipated minors can also wed without any additional permission. Minors aged 15 years or younger may get married in the event that they become pregnant, or a family court authorizes their parent’s request for marriage.
Common-Law Marriage Is Not Recognized – In some states, couples may obtain a “common-law marriage” if they have been cohabitating for a certain amount of time. This marriage is marked by the absence of a legal marriage license, but the couple must present themselves to the outside world as married. New Mexico does not recognize common-law marriages formed within state lines, but the state does grant these rights to common-law marriages formed in other jurisdictions.
Engaged couples tend to have a lot on their plate, and the stress of planning a wedding can make this process even more confusing. Fortunately, the wedding experts at Zola are here to answer any and all of your burning questions. That’s why we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions regarding marriage laws and licenses in the state of New Mexico:
Given the fact that New Mexico marriage licenses never expire, couples in this state can technically submit their application at any point prior to the wedding. While it’s always a good idea to get this step out of the way beforehand, applying for your license too early can pose certain risks.
Here’s the thing: you don’t want your marriage license hanging around for an extended period of time, as this leaves room for the document to get damaged or misplaced—which is the last thing you want to discover hours before your ceremony.
On the other hand, New Mexico couples can technically apply for their marriage license as late as the day of their wedding. That being said, you don’t want to be rushing this process at the last minute, as this will only lead to more stress and the risk of having to postpone your wedding date.
For couples in New Mexico, we recommend applying for your marriage license around one to two months before the date of your ceremony.
Domestic partnerships are often confused with common-law marriages. While these two types of relationships do share a number of similarities, there are also certain distinctions that make them different in the eyes of the government.
Here’s the bottom line: Couples in domestic partnerships do not present themselves as spouses, which is the main difference between a domestic partnership and a common-law marriage. Despite not being married, domestic partners can benefit from certain legal benefits if recognized by their city or state government. These benefits include:
Ending a domestic partnership may also result in certain legal issues, particularly if the couple shares property, bank accounts, or credit cards. A traditional divorce, however, will almost always be more complicated than the end of a domestic partnership.
So we know that New Mexico law does not recognize common-law marriages—but what about domestic partnerships? Let’s take a look:
Domestic partnerships formed within the state of New Mexico will not receive any legal benefits similar to married couples. That being said, domestic partnerships formed and recognized in other US jurisdictions will be upheld if the couple enters the state of New Mexico.
So, while you cannot begin a domestic partnership in New Mexico, the state will honor the rights of domestic partners from other states and cities (where the relationship is legally binding).
Certified copies of your marriage license can be purchased for a small fee of $2.50—which is perfect for couples looking to obtain multiple copies. Having a handful of these copies will be helpful for a number of post-nuptial tasks, including:
Once you’ve secured your New Mexico marriage license, you can begin completing the final touches of your wedding planning. This includes finding an officiant, getting your ceremony space together, and sending out the stylish wedding invitations you ordered at Zola!
It’s crucial that couples keep tabs on their marriage license in the days leading up to the wedding. This means filing the document away in a safe, secure place where it won’t be damaged or misplaced. Although there is no waiting period for marriage licenses in New Mexico, couples should still avoid having to replace this crucial document at the last minute.
On the day of your wedding, remember to bring the marriage license to your ceremony location. Some couples prefer to hand over their marriage license to the officiant the night before, and doing this may give you one less thing to worry about on the big day.
The marriage license must be signed by you, your spouse, and your officiant. This can be done before, during, or shortly after the ceremony. After that, your officiant has 90 days to file your marriage license with the county clerk’s office that issued it.
After completing a wedding ceremony, couples are then given a new document known as a marriage certificate. While a certificate does not hold any legal significance, it is used as a way to commemorate the marriage. Couples do not have to file their marriage certificate with the county clerk, as this document is intended to be kept for personal use.
From the historic architecture to the beautiful landscapes, it’s no surprise that couples from all over the county flock to New Mexico to celebrate their love. If you’re planning a ceremony or reception in this Southwestern state, you’ll want to consider a few other factors beyond the marriage license application.
Now that the paperwork is complete, let’s take a look at everything else couples should consider when planning their ideal New Mexico wedding:
Weather – New Mexico locals know that the warmer months bring some seriously high temperatures for the Southwest. On the other hand, winters in the desert can get surprisingly cold—especially at night. These are some important factors to consider when planning an outdoor wedding celebration in New Mexico.
Southwestern Traditions – No New Mexico wedding is complete without some Southwestern flare. Make your special day unique by incorporating any of these New Mexico traditions:
A La Marcha parade, with a live mariachi band followed by you, your spouse, and all your loved ones dancing the night away.
Add the state gem turquoise into some of your wedding decor, such as center pieces, jewelry, or even your something blue.
Vendors – If you’re planning a wedding in one of New Mexico’s hotspots—such as Albuquerque, Sante Fe, or Las Cruces—keep in mind that vendors may be pretty booked up. This is especially true during peak wedding season, which falls between late spring and early fall. Fortunately, users can search Zola’s pre-screened wedding vendor list based on specific dates and availability, so you’ll never have to worry about losing your dream florist, band, or caterer to another booking.
Changing Your Name – If you’re planning to change your last name after you get married, it’s important to understand the specifics of this process within your state. For New Mexico couples, this request will need to be placed when you apply for a marriage license. After the ceremony, you’ll need to request a certified copy of your marriage license to show the social security office, DMV, and any other institution where your personal information will need to be updated.
Listen, we get it. All this talk of paperwork and marriage licenses isn’t exactly the most exciting part of planning a wedding. That being said, it is a crucial part of the process if you’re planning to make your marriage official.
The good news is that applying for a marriage license is actually pretty simple. If you follow the steps outlined in this article, we’re confident you’ll have all the documentation ready in no time.
Here at Zola, it’s our mission to make wedding planning easy. From stylish save-the-date designs to digital seating charts, to creating the perfect wedding registry, Zola has a handy tool for every step of the process. Our blog also features plenty of Expert Advice about all things wedding related.
Leave the stress in the past, and start planning your wedding the modern way—at Zola!