If you're thinking about getting married, or in the process of tying the knot, you probably understand the heavy financial part that comes with the entire event. There're so many things to buy, plan, book, prepare, and some just to pray for that all goes well, such as the weather to at least remember the day as perfect. Nonetheless, most of us only pay attention to one side and don't mind much about the other, but there is a tiny subset of unavoidable, mandatory fees that everyone has to pay no matter how big or small your marriage is.
We concentrate so much on the appearance part, guests, meals, decor, venue, outfits, maids, and wedding planner, after parties, among others. All these make our heads spin and take almost the entire wedding budget. However, there's another part of a wedding that is actually very critical, least expensive, a little technical and must be complete whether you've an elaborate wedding or a simple ceremony.
This the technical wedding part where only a few dollars are probably required in fees for a certificate, license, hiring an officiant, physical exam and blood tests, among others. Most of these fees are for certain documentation and completion of certain rights and procedures under the law of a state or county for a couple to be declared married.
This is one of the least mentioned and rarely required part of getting married in most states across the nation. While it's important, particularly for both individuals getting into a marriage union to understand their health better and what they're getting into, it's also a requirement of a number of states.
It's usually worth checking whether your state or county requires it. A couple getting married has to comply with the formal requirements of the state, and even as just a couple of states require a physical examination, blood test or both; getting the results is important and shouldn't be construed as infringing on privacy.
The examination and blood test tests the individuals to know if they have specific venereal diseases. In fact, the clerk cannot issue a couple a marriage licenses until the tests have been provided. States requiring premarital tests blood tests include District of Columbia, Mississippi and Montana. This is a cost usually borne by the couple.
The wedding officiant is the individual who'll perform your wedding ceremony and can be anyone from a celebrant, professional officiant, and pastor to priest. Professional celebrants and ministers actually live on performing wedding ceremonies, in most cases. You can also have a relative or friend to officiate your wedding one time. This means you must be really clear about the wedding officiant you need to hire depending on your wedding, tastes and faith. In case all you need is getting married legally without any ceremony, an amateur officiant will do just fine.
Anyone planning a significant wedding ceremony with lots of invited guests, family and friends should think about a clergyman or professional officiant. A professional officiant is different from a religious officiant since they solicit business from anyone and differ from amateurs by the fact that their services are of a higher standard, have a reputation to maintain, and experienced enough to bring some character and difference to any wedding.
How much does an officiant cost?
While it's not easy to draw down to a certain figure, amateur officiants might only want to earn a few dollars for the service and fees could be $100 to $250 while a professional officiant can be anything from $400 to $1000 on average. Their experience, customization provided and service level will ultimately determine the cost. Rabbis and priests officiants cost can go above $1000. On average, many wedding professionals put the cost of an officiant at around $600. Of course, by using friends or family to officiate you cut on your wedding budget and save.
For a couple to marry a marriage license is required. An officiant has to fill and sign it after or during the ceremony. To receive a wedding or marriage certificate the marriage license (signed) has to be submitted with the county clerk/recorder (or equivalent) first. It's highly important to understand the residency requirements in case you're getting married in a county or state you don't know very well in the case of a marriage license and other details.
The marriage license fees differ from one state to the other and could require, before it's granted, that identification such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, or passport be provided. The marriage license fees range from about $5 on the lower side and as high as $115. However, depending on your state you can actually save a lot on the marriage license fees by attending a premarital education course approved by your state. These include seven states so far, from Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Maryland to Georgia.
The duration of the required course could be anything from 4 hours to 12 hours depending on the state. States such as Minnesota, Florida, Oklahoma and Tennessee don't scrap the entire license fee with premarital preparation. Note that couples entering civil unions in a state such as Illinois have the $60 marriage license fee waived.
After signing the marriage license you'll need a legal marriage/wedding certificate. Ordered by either of the spouses, it's usually ready after the record has been declared official a couple of weeks later. A legal marriage certificate varies depending on your state or county. It can be anything between $5 and $26 just for the initial copy while additional copies also come at a cost of between $3 and $15 per copy.
The Unites States CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) actually lists all the different state by state costs of obtaining a marriage certificate. For those seeking inexpensive marriage heirloom certificates the cost can be between $5 and $30 while elaborate marriage certificates could be anything between $45 and $275.
Getting a marriage certificate online can be a little expensive if using online services, with the average cost being between $37 and $80. Note that some states also charge a little more for the marriage certificate in case it's for foreign usage, or the long certificate. In New York City for instance the long certificate is about $20 more that a marriage certificate for domestic use or a short certificate, including a $10 additional charge for a raised seal and hand signature.
Of course, these are some of the costs most couples don't actually mind much due to their inexpensiveness yet highly critical. Without them no one would be declared married and their cost cumulatively can be a handful. But with waivers offered by the states you can actually cut on their cost that translates in a lower total wedding budget.