If you have set the date for your wedding, it's time to take care of the legal matters. In the state of West Virginia, you will need to apply for a marriage license with the county clerk. It's a relatively straightforward process, but there are things you'll want to know before you go.
Also, each county may have its own requirements. It's best to check with the specific office to make sure you take everything you need.
Residency and ID Requirement
You do not have to be a resident of West Virginia to apply for a marriage license within the state. However, West Virginia residents must apply in the county where they live. If both of you are non-residents, you can apply in any county.
You will both need to go to the county clerk office and present photo identification such as your driver's license, state ID, or passport. You will also need to know your parents' full names, including your mothers' maiden names and the states where they were born.
Most counties will require documentation to prove a previous marriage has been dissolved either through death or divorce. This means that you will likely need the official divorce decree or death certificate. Knowing the exact date is required and the location may be helpful as well.
West Virginia does not have a covenant marriage option.
There is no waiting period for a marriage license.
The fees for a marriage license vary from county to county in West Virginia. Many will charge around $36 if you provide proof of premarital counseling and about $56 without it. In some counties, you can only pay with cash.
No tests, including blood tests, are required.
Proxy marriages are not allowed in the state, so both of you must be present at the ceremony.
West Virginia will not allow first or double cousins to marry unless the relationship is by adoption. Additionally, you may not marry a relation closer than that, including parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles or aunts, or nieces or nephews.
Common Law Marriages
Common-law marriages are not recognized in West Virginia.
West Virginia has recognized same-sex marriages since October 2014. This was prior to the nationwide legalization which was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015. In the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Court decided that it was unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
If either of you is under 18 years of age, you must have the consent (in person) of a parent or guardian. There will be a three-day waiting period after you apply for the license. There may be special provisions for an under-aged bride who is pregnant.
Any ordained minister or official religious representative who has received authorization to perform marriages in the state of West Virginia may officiate a wedding. Additionally, the court in each city and county has appointed persons—including judges and justices—who are eligible to perform civil weddings within that jurisdiction.
A marriage license is valid for 60 days. This means the wedding ceremony must take place and the license must be registered with the county clerk within that time. Only then will a marriage certificate be issued. Failing to do so means that you will have to apply and pay the fee again.
Certificate of Marriage Copies
In West Virginia, only the bride, groom, or their children or grandchildren can request a copy of the certificate of marriage from the state. It must be done through the Vital Registration Office at the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services. You can also go through the county clerk where the marriage was filed. If you were recently married, the county clerk is your best option.
There is generally a small fee when you submit the request. You will also need to know as much information as possible about the wedding, including names, date, and location.
State and county marriage license requirements change frequently. It is important that you verify all information with your local county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.
This information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Refer to an attorney or the West Virginia code regarding marriages with any questions.