How to Get Married in Wisconsin

Be prepared for a waiting period for the marriage license

Amnicon Falls State Park in Wisconsin
Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Tourism

If you've set a date for your wedding in Wisconsin, the state has a number of requirements, including a five-day waiting period, that are important to know, as well as the paperwork you need to have with you.

Residency and ID Requirements

In Wisconsin, marriage licenses are provided by the county clerk and both of you must apply in person. For residents, you need to apply in the county where you live. You can get married anywhere in the state. If you're both non-residents, apply in the county where the wedding will take place.

Each county may have different requirements, so check with the county clerk before going to the office. In general, each of you must bring a valid photo ID, such as your driver's license, with your current address or two pieces of mail with your current address.

Additionally, you must provide your Social Security number, though the card is not required. A certified copy of your birth certificate, as well as your parents' full (and maiden) names, will also be needed.

Make sure you have the date and place of your marriage ceremony and the name, address, and phone number of the officiant.

Previous Marriages

If either of you was previously married, you must show proof of divorce, death, or civil annulment from your most recent marriage. You need to wait six months and one day after a divorce before getting remarried. It's required that you show a copy of the judgment of divorce, legal annulment, or death certificate from your most recent marriage.

Waiting Period

There is a waiting period of five days in Wisconsin before the ceremony can take place. This does not include the day you apply—so it is really six days. Bottom line: You'll be safest if you apply no less than seven days before and no more than 35 days before the ceremony.

In some counties, the waiting period may be waived under special circumstances. These include if both applicants live out-of-state or one party is in the military or terminally ill. An extra fee may be charged.

Fees

Although the fees for a marriage license in Wisconsin vary from county to county, the average cost is $100. Be prepared to pay in cash because most will not accept other forms of payment.

Cousin Marriages

Cousin marriages are generally not allowed in Wisconsin. Under certain circumstances, such as when the bride is 55 years of age or older, cousins may be allowed to marry.

Common-Law Marriages

Common-law marriages are not recognized in Wisconsin.

Proxy Marriages

Wisconsin does not allow proxy marriages, so both of you must be present for the wedding ceremony.

Same-Sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages are legal in Wisconsin. When the U.S. Supreme Court denied reviewing Wisconsin's same-sex marriage case in October 2014, gay marriages were allowed to begin in the state immediately. Further, the Court's June 2015 decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges found it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. This effectively legalized it nationwide.

Under 18

If either the bride or groom is under 18, he or she must have written, notarized consent from their parents or guardian. There is a consent form available, which must be signed in front of the county clerk.

Anyone under 16 may not marry in Wisconsin.

Officiants

Ordained members of the clergy, judges, court commissioners, and certain religious appointees may perform marriages in Wisconsin. You and your prospective spouse may officiate under established customs or rules of some religions.

Miscellaneous

The Wisconsin marriage license is valid for 30 days. You must get married and have your marriage license officially recorded within that time. If you wait too long, you can't get married without applying for and paying for another marriage license.

Some Wisconsin counties drop this time frame to two weeks if either one of you is not yet 18 years old.

Certificate of Marriage Copies

The person who officiates your wedding will file it with the county to be recorded. However, you will not automatically receive a copy of your marriage certificate.

You must request one from a register of deeds in the county where it was filed. There is generally a small fee required. The Wisconsin Vital Records Office can provide copies for marriages that fall within certain years as well.

Verifying Information

This information should not be regarded as legal advice and is intended only as guidance to help you understand the marriage laws in Wisconsin. The requirements at the state and county level do change often. Check with your local county clerk to verify all the information before making your wedding plans.