Each state has different laws regarding getting married. One thing each state, including the District of Columbia, has in common is that they all require getting a marriage license. Some states are less restrictive than others. More than half of the states have no waiting times. Wisconsin has the longest waiting period—six days.
In order to get married, some of the variables that change from state to state include the need for blood tests, waiting periods before applying for the license and getting the license, legal age to get married, and how soon you can get married after you are issued the license.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most marriage licenses have an expiration. With the exception of the District of Columbia and five other states (Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina), marriage licenses from all the other states have a timer on how long they are valid. The shortest is Oklahoma, which expires 10 days after its issued.
Why the Wait?
A waiting period was mandated to ensure that couples have time to really think things out and be certain that they're making the right decision. For states that require a wait, there's no spur of the moment, rash decisions to tie the knot.
Most states allow you to get married immediately after a marriage license is issued. There are seven exceptions. Delaware, Illinois, and New York have a one-day wait. Maryland has a two-day wait. And, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas have a three-day wait.
State-by-State Marriage Waiting Times
Laws change all the time; use this chart as a guide only. Before you make wedding or travel plans, you should check with your county clerk or local marriage license office to confirm that the rules have not changed. For example, most states have eliminated the need for blood tests. Montana is the only state that still requires a blood test (although it can be waived).
|Alaska||3 business days|
|Delaware||24 hours. If both nonresidents, 96 hours.|
|District of Columbia||5 days|
|Florida||No waiting period for Florida residents who have both completed a state-sanctioned marriage preparation course within the last 12 months. There is a three-day waiting period for Florida residents who have not taken the course.|
|Iowa||3 business days|
|Kansas||3 business days|
|Louisiana||72 hours. Out-of-state couples can get married in New Orleans without a wait.|
|New Hampshire||3 days|
|New Jersey||72 hours|
|New York||24 hours|
|South Carolina||24 hours|