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How To: Get Married in Berrien County

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Marriage license app

In the midst of all your pinning, fittings, tastings, and general planning, don’t forget arguably the most important part of your day…making it legal! Having a big party to celebrate your new life as husband and wife doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if all the I’s aren’t dotted and T’s not crossed. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind while planning your St. Joseph wedding for all you non-residents out there.

  • Wherever you apply for your marriage license, you must have your ceremony in that county…so if you are getting married in places like St. Joseph, Stevensville, Benton Harbor, Niles, New Buffalo, Bridgman, Berrien Springs, Coloma, Union Pier, Baroda, Three Oaks, or Buchanan apply in Berrien County either at the Administration Building in St. Joseph or the courthouse in Niles.
  • Both you and spouse-to-be must be 18 years of age or older. If you are 16 or 17, then you have to have more paperwork signed by your parent or guardian to say they okay the marriage. There’s a lot more involved if you are under 18 so make sure to call the office before applying to make sure all your ducks are in a row.
  • Good news! Now Michigan doesn’t require blood tests before getting married! Yippee! No needles for you! They do give you some nice pamphlets on staying healthy and what not. Also not required by the state anymore is premarital counseling…but don’t get too excited yet, you may have to go through some sort of counseling as a requirement for whoever is going to marry you.
  • For the application you will need a valid ID (either driver’s license or state ID) for each of the parties applying and your social security numbers. You can apply in person or online, but if you apply online, both parties will need to be present to pick up the license and confirm all the documents are valid. Also, (and this is a biggie) make sure the address on your ID matches the address you put down on your application. If they don’t then you can’t get married! Just kidding…but if they don’t match then there could be delays in getting your license all squared away and who needs that added stress?
  • After applying (which can take about 30 minutes to finish the whole process) you can pick up your shiny new license 3 business days after applying.
  • Keep in mind, your marriage license is only valid 33 days from the day you apply, so don’t get it too early.
  • For non-residents the fee to get the license is $30 ($20 for Michigan residents)
  • Just because you have your license doesn’t mean things are all legal quite yet. Keep your license close on your wedding day. Your officiant will have to fill in a bunch of details and sign it and then you and your better half and your witnesses will have to sign it too. Typically the officiant would then take it back to the county clerk to get it processed, but make sure that is the case. Again, you don’t want to be working on your suntan on your fabulous honeymoon and be worrying about things like your marriage license not getting filed correctly. Because here’s the kicker…your marriage is only official after the license gets filed after your ceremony. So, don’t let that great dress and big party go to waste, make sure all your legal ducks are in a row and everyone knows their part in getting things legally on the up and up.

So, that’s a little crash course for getting married in St. Joseph…for more information don’t hesitate to look online at:

http://berriencounty.org/CountyClerk/MarriageLicenseApplication

Also, here are some addresses and phone numbers that could be handy too when figuring all this out:

Berrien County Administration Center

701 Main Street

St. Joseph, MI

269.983.7111 ext 8233

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm

South County Building

1205 N. Front Street

Niles, MI 49120

269.684.5274 ext 6288

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00am-Noon 1:00pm-5:00pm

 

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