Originally Published July 14, 2014; updated June 29, 2023.
Facing the to-do lists of planning a wedding? Book the venue, tastings with the caterer, engagement sessions with your photographer, RSVPs to keep track of, wedding party gifts, decor, countless appointments…and the marriage license! A very important detail that can often be forgotten about until the very end. Today we’re going to give you all the info you need to take care of that little, important detail easily and painlessly.
In August of 2019, the state of Alabama issued a new law regarding the process of applying for marriage. Couples who wish to pursue marriage no longer have to visit the Probate office or fill out a marriage license application ahead of time.
The criteria to be eligible for marriage still apply. Both individuals must be at least 18 years old to marry without parental consent and must abide by certain guidelines if divorced or widowed recently.
1. You must complete the online Marriage Certificate form. Once all of the information is typed in and fully complete, print it out to take to a notary certified in the state of Alabama.
*Note: If your officiant is a notary in the state of Alabama, then he or she will still be able to notarize the form after your wedding and can mail it to the Probate office for you (with the filing fee) as it is traditionally done. If your officiant is not a notary, then you will have to take this form to a public notary to witness your signatures for the marriage to be legal.
2. Your legal wedding date is the date that you sign the Marriage Certificate form. This is important to remember because as soon as you take the form to a notary to be signed, that date will legally be the start of your marriage. A wedding ceremony is now optional in the state of Alabama.
*Note: If you and your spouse sign the Marriage Certificate form on different dates for whatever reason, the latter date will be your legal wedding date. For example, if one spouse signed the form on 3/1/2023 and the other spouse signed it on 3/2/2023, then the legal effective date of the marriage would be 3/2/2023.
3. After the Marriage Certificate form is fully completed, signed, and notarized, you have 30 days from the date of the signatures to deliver it to the Probate Office with the filing fee.
*Note: The filing fee in Madison County is $89 and only cash or check is accepted. If mailing the form, only a certified or cashier’s check is accepted. Madison County Probate Judge mailing address: 1918 Memorial Parkway, NW Huntsville, AL 35801 (include a self-addressed stamped envelope so that the form can be returned).
You can find more specific information for Madison County here.
It’s a bonus to have an officiant who is already a notary in the state of Alabama in order to avoid any confusion on the legality of your wedding date. Often, a wedding planner or guest who is a family friend will be a public notary. Ask around! It also allows you to delegate the task of mailing the form and filing fee directly to them which will be a huge weight-lifted-off-your-shoulders feeling for you and your families. Be sure to have everything ready for them before or after the wedding ceremony. Not something you should have to worry about on your honeymoon!
Within 2 or 3 weeks after you get back from the honeymoon, you should receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate in the mail.
That’s all there is to it! As always, check out the links to Madison County to verify any updates that may have happened recently. (This information was updated on March 9, 2023.)
You can now write a big check mark next to Marriage Certificate on your list!
JOIN THE LIST
weekly goodies in your inbox