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Demystifying the Marriage License Process in Charleston, SC - from a Wedding Officiant's perspective

It's not the most glamorous party of the wedding day, but it is the part that makes it legal! As your wedding officiant, I am here to guide you through this process. Let's break down how you get legally married in Charleston!


The Charleston County Court makes the process relatively easy and straightforward.


One good thing that came from 2020 and Covid, the marriage license application process in Charleston was moved online, yay!


First, you complete the application on the Charleston County Court website. It takes about 5-10 minutes to complete the application, and it requires uploading a couple forms of identification. After the application is submitted, the court sends you back 3 copies of the pdf version of your marriage license through email. This usually takes 2-3 days.


I always suggest to my couples that they send me the pdf copy of the marriage license so I can bring a copy with me the day of the ceremony. Better to have your wedding officiant have an extra copy of the marriage license, than to realize that you forgot it on the day of your ceremony. You as the couple, have a million other details to worry about, let me as your wedding officiant, take this off your plate.


The day of your ceremony, I as your wedding officiant, will complete the three copies of the marriage license (two copies for the court and one bride/groom copy). You, as the couple, will sign ALL THREE COPIES. I always joke with my couples, you gotta really want it haha.


I, as your wedding officiant, then bring the two judge's copies to the court the following business day. You can track the court's process of completing the documentation online. Once the court completes processing the documentation, you can order your certified copies. This is done online. The certified copies then get sent to your home.


Marriage License Signing following an elopement ceremony in Charleston, SC

Elopement Ceremony Venue: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC

Elopement Ceremony Photographer: Sarah MacDonald, Live Wilder Studios


Questions I get asked as a Charleston Wedding Officiant about the marriage license process...


  1. How soon in advance should I submit the application to the court? I suggest completing the application a month before your ceremony. Throughout my experience as a wedding officiant in Charleston, I've had couples eloping to Charleston and receive the marriage license within 2-3 days of submitting it. But, better safe than sorry.

  2. Does the marriage license application expire? No, the marriage license application does not expire in the State of South Carolina. So, if you received your marriage license, hold on to it until the big day!

  3. Do I need to apply for the license in my home county or in the county I am getting married in? You can apply for the marriage license in any county in South Carolina, and it is valid. I suggest using the Charleston County court because the process is online, and they turn things around pretty quickly.

  4. How long does it take to get my certified copies? This really depends on how busy the court is. I've seen anything from 3-4 days to 3-4 weeks.

  5. Do we need a witness? This is mostly for couples that elope, but the answer is no, you do not need a witness to get married in the state of South Carolina. All you need is your wedding officiant!


Elopement Ceremony Venue: Planters Inn, Charleston, SC

Elopement Ceremony Photographer: Sarah MacDonald, Live Wilder Studios


Other helpful tips...


When you receive the 3 copies of the marriage license from the court, READ OVER ALL THE DETAILS. That means spellings, dates, the boxes that mark bride/groom/spouse. The court sometimes will make mistakes and it's on you as the couple to make sure that everything is correct. Throughout my time as a wedding officiant in Charleston, I have seen couples realize a mistake AFTER the ceremony day, and well, I'll just say you want to catch it before the big day.


After we sign the three copies of the license on the day of the ceremony, I as your wedding officiant take the two judge's copies, and give you the bride/groom copy. If you don't have a planner, assign a person to be responsible for hanging on to your copy of the marriage license.


The Charleston County Court website provides all the details related to the marriage license process. Some of the language on the website is a bit confusing. That's where I come in, as your wedding officiant, I am here to answer any questions about this process and make it as easy as possible for you!


Don't forget to get some fun pics of you signing the license!



Marriage License Signing following an elopement ceremony in Charleston, SC

Elopement Ceremony Venue: Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Charleston, SC

Elopement Ceremony Photographer: Sarah MacDonald, Live Wilder Studios


More questions? Want to chat about your upcoming Charleston wedding or Charleston elopement? Send me a message and we can chat!!




Sincerely,

A Charleston Wedding Officiant








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