Amidst all the wedding planning, to-do lists and last-minute bits and bobs it’s easy to forget about filling out the legal paperwork ahead of your big day. And while you want to feel at ease knowing everything’s been organized for your wedding, don’t stop yet. There’s still a little more groundwork that needs to be done before it’s time to celebrate your special occasion.
Let’s take a look at a few things you need to do to make sure your Las Vegas wedding is not only beautiful, but legal.
What you need to do before coming to Las Vegas
Before you head overseas, interstate or across the highway to get married in Vegas, you have to look at the legal system of the state you’re being married in. Our government needs to see proof that you’re:
- Free to marry (that you’re not already married)
- Over the age of 18 (or 16 with parental written consent)
For more information about the specifics, you can contact your destinations embassy or consulate.
If you’re coming in from another country, you’ll need an apostille stamp on important documents to prove the official signatures are genuine. Think birth certificates, certified copies of passports or divorce papers.
What’s an apostille stamp? Stick with us, it’s covered a little later.
Vegas marriage laws
The marriage laws in Vegas are similar to most of the states. Both you and your partner must be at least 18 years old, shouldn’t be related, you both shouldn’t be married to someone else (polygamy isn’t legal) and your marriage license paperwork shouldn’t be older than one year.
LGBTIQ marriage is legal in Vegas and a marriage license costs $77.
How to get a Vegas marriage license
As we just mentioned, before tying the knot in Vegas you need to get a marriage license to make your marriage official. You and your partner can pop online up to 60 days before your wedding date and complete a pre-application form.
The Clark County Marriage License Bureau needs to approve and validate your marriage license. But don’t worry, getting hold of one is very quick and easy. All you need to do is:
- Show up (the two of you) to the Clark County Marriage Bureau with your pre-filled application form in hand plus a legal form of ID (think drivers license, passport, a foreign country card ID, or military ID)
- Hightail it to the express lane because you’ve already completed the pre-application form before you got there
- Pay the $77 fee.
Once your marriage license is issued there’s no waiting period before you can skip down the aisle. If you decide to push the date back for any reason there’s more good news — it’s valid for one year.
The only legal thing left to do before your wedding day is to hand over your approved license to your officiant.
What happens on the day?
You need to have a few different people present at the ceremony to tick more legal boxes. In Vegas, your officiant must be a licensed, ordained, appointed Minister or another church religious official to be legal. A notary also needs to be present so they can confirm the date and location of the ceremony, as well as the names of the people involved on the day on the forms.
It’s a requirement in Las Vegas that there’s at least one witness to sign the marriage license. Traditionally, it’s done by the maid of honour or the best man but it can really be done by anyone you choose.
To get your marriage certificate all you need to do is head to the Las Vegas Marriage License Bureau in person to pick it up. It needs to be collected within 60 days of pre-registering your marriage license.
Getting a certified copy of your marriage certificate
You can request to get a certified marriage certificate within 10 days of your wedding day by heading to the Las Vegas Marriage License Bureau. As a Cactus Collective Couple, your officiant is happy to do this for you. After the ceremony, your signed paperwork is filed by the officiant on your behalf. It takes around 10 days for the clerk’s office to process it, after which time you’re able to order a certified copy for your own records.
For couples traveling to Vegas for their wedding, it’s important to check whether your country requires an apostille stamp in addition to the marriage certificate.
An apostille (fancy French word meaning certification) is attached to your original document to show that it’s legitimate and genuine. This is so the certified document can be accepted in other countries who are part of the 1961 Hague Convention.
Check if your country requires an apostille for your marriage certificate.
Making sure your marriage is legal in your home country
Your marriage certificate is your legal document confirming that you and your fiancé have been married, so if you’re returning to your country and you use another language you may need to provide a certified translation of your marriage certificate to prove its validity.
It’s important to check in with your country of origin on their recognition of overseas marriage laws as well. Some countries, such as Australia for example, specify that:
- A marriage must be recognized as valid under the law of the country at the time it was entered into
- The marriage would’ve been recognized as valid under Australian law if the marriage takes place in Australia.
Again, make sure you read your country’s requirements for assessing whether your marriage certificate will be classed as legal.
Where to seek advice and help
Making sure your marriage is legal here in Vegas as well as in your home state or country takes a little research and planning. You’re sure to tick all the boxes and have yourself a legal wedding by filling out your pre-application form for your marriage license and:
- Using a licensed officiant to run the ceremony
- Having at least one witness and a notary on the day
- Making sure any foreign proof of ID documents have the apostille stamps.
If you’re ever in doubt, always check out your country’s government website for more information and of course contact us here at Cactus Collective Weddings.
You can learn more about the legalities of getting hitched in Vegas in our Ultimate Guide.