Legalizing a Marriage: The 5 Steps To Getting Married

Let’s get back to basics. What exactly does it take to get married in this day and age? The wedding industry would have you think you need an entourage of family, wedding planners, florists, and paparazzi just to do the deed. Pinterest is filled to the brim with wedding articles titled “must have” this and “can’t miss” that. When searching for a little guidance, you’re so quickly pointed to planning the things that should be just the icing on the cake. Quite literally, the second you enter the world of wedding planning you are bombarded with pictures of elaborate cakes and quizzes to find out if you’re more a buttercream or fondant kind of couple.

We believe that wedding planning should start with the brass tacks. That way when the entire world inevitably pitches you their idea of what your wedding should be, you are more equipped to sort through what is required, what really speaks to you, and what is just extra junk. What really matters at the end of the day is that you have a legally binding marriage with the person you love most in this world. So we’re here to be the voice of reason and tell you the 5 steps that are ACTUALLY a “must” when it comes to getting married.

Quick disclaimer folks. We are not lawyers and marriage law varies across counties, states, and countries. Double check your facts before you tie the knot!

Kansas City Missouri Marriage License

1. Get The License

First things first, let’s talk about the document you need to obtain to make this thing real. Back in the day, all sorts of things were required to get a marriage license, like taking a blood test to make sure you and your future spouse weren’t related (this is actually still required in Montana…). Let’s not even talk about the old ways of providing a dowry to the bride’s family.

Luckily, today most of what is required to get a marriage license from the local courthouse comes down to documents, deadlines, and dollars. This is where the numbers come in. Here in Missouri, you are required to go to a county courthouse together with 2 forms of identification each, $50 dollars total, and within 30 days of your wedding date. That’s right, your marriage license, if not signed, expires in just over the time it takes milk to expire. So pick a day a few weeks out from your wedding and make a little date out of your trip to the local county courthouse!

If you’re getting married with The Vow Exchange, click below to see where you need to go and what to bring to get your marriage license.


2. Choose The Witnesses

This one is pretty easy because all you need is 2 living, breathing, humans over the age of 18 to witness your ceremony. Even though choosing your witnesses can be one of the easiest parts of a wedding to plan, it is often forgotten by coupes until the day of. If you’re wondering who is typically chosen as witnesses, we can tell you it’s a role that often goes to the best man & maid of honor or one type of immediate family member from both sides (moms, dads, siblings). The great thing about getting to choose your witnesses is that you can use it as a small, but meaningful way to honor two people you hold dear.


3. Find The Officiant

Finding the person who is going to marry you probably takes the most planning out of any of these steps. Anyone hoping to get married by a friend or family has probably googled the words “how to become a wedding officiant”. Here in Missouri and in most of the US, a marriage ceremony can be legally performed by a clergyman, judge or a religious society, institution, or organization. Turns out that’s a pretty wide group of folks. So if you already belong to a church or subscribe to a specific faith, chances are any leader can solidify your union. If you’re looking for a strictly civil ceremony, judges can do that, but not every courthouse provides this service (for instance, you’d be out of luck here in KCMO). However, there are online organizations, such as The Universal Life Church and American Marriage Ministries, where almost anyone can join and quickly become certified to perform a legal wedding ceremony!


4. Declare Your Intent

AKA the “I do”s. Whether you stick to the script or go off book, declaring your intent to take your spouse to have and to hold from this day forward- or some version of that - is a must! Even if they are the only words you say on your wedding day, “I do” is absolutely, 100% required.


5. Be Pronounced

This is where the officiant seals the deal. “By the power vested in me by the state of Missouri and in the name of love, I now pronounce you husband and wife”. These words echo through our little chapels here in Kansas City every single weekend. While the specifics can be altered, the words “I now pronounce you” make up the key phrase. Once you hear these little words, you are officially known as newlyweds.

DON’T FORGET! [Step 1] The License, should be signed by [Step 2] The Officiant and [Step 3] The Witnesses. Make sure the license gets back to the courthouse asap so it can be filed and you will officially be known as Mr. & Mrs. (or Mr. & Mr. or Mrs. & Mrs.) from this day forward!

Listen along as wedding planning gurus Kathryn Hogan & Amy Rizzo break down this exact topic on the “I Do Rescue” podcast!