How old do you have to be to get married in Texas? What to know about getting hitched

Wedding season is kicking off in Texas, lasting from late spring through early fall.

Here’s what couples planning on getting hitched should know about applying for their marriage license and performing the marriage ceremony.

Marriage license requirements in Texas

A marriage license may be obtained from any county clerk’s office. To get their marriage license, a couple must go to a county clerk’s office in person to apply for a marriage license, unless your Texas county offers an online application process.

  • Proper identification: They must each have a valid government-issued form of picture identification, like a driver’s license, state ID, a birth certificate, a passport, a military identification card or visa. They must also know their Social Security numbers.

  • Cost: It costs $75 for the license in Tarrant County. Most of the fee, $60, is waived if you’ve completed a pre-marital education course.

  • Age: You must both be at least 18 years old to get married on your own. If you’re between 16 or 17, you need parental consent or a court order granting you permission to get married. If you’re younger than 16, you must have a court order granting you permission to marry.

  • Residency: You don’t have to be a Texas resident to get married in Texas, though it’s an additional $100 fee.

  • Premarital education: Couples are encouraged to attend a premarital training course at least eight hours long, completed in the year preceding application for a marriage license.

If you’re unable to go in person to apply for a marriage license, Tarrant County allows you to do so via video conference. For this option, you should have access to a computer or laptop, internet access and audio video capabilities. You must also complete the Affidavit of Age and Identity form.

Performing a marriage ceremony in Texas

Couples must wait 72 hours from the time of getting a marriage license to the marriage ceremony. This waiting period may be waived for members of the armed forces, by a judge or if the couple has completed a premarital education course.

A marriage license expires if a ceremony isn’t conducted within 90 days after it was issued. Before returning the license to the county clerk who issued it, the officiant must record on the license the date of the ceremony, the county where it was performed and their personal information. It must be returned no later than 30 days after the ceremony. Then, the county clerk must return the marriage license to the address on the application.

Here’s who can marry couples in Texas, per the Texas Family Code:

  • A licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest

  • A Jewish rabbi

  • An officer of a religious organization authorized to conduct marriage ceremonies

  • A current or retired justice, judge or magistrate of select courts in Texas

To get a Tarrant County Justice of the Peace to perform your ceremony, you’ll need your marriage license, $100 cash and a scheduled appointment through phone call. In-person ceremonies are conducted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Zoom wedding ceremonies are available daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Marriage by proxy is available only if the person is a member of the armed forces, stationed in another country and unable to attend the ceremony.

Do officiants register before conducting the ceremony?

There is no need to register with the state as a wedding officiant, and no state agency requires officiants to register before they can conduct a marriage ceremony. If they review the law and believe they can perform the marriage ceremony, then they can perform it.

Texas common law marriage requirements

There are two types of marriage licenses: formal marriage license and declaration and registration of an informal marriage, also known as common law marriage.

Common law marriage, marriage without formalities, is a valid and legal way for a couple to get married in Texas.

  • Must both be 18 or older

  • Not currently married to someone else

  • Agree to be married and live together in Texas as husband and wife and represent to others that they are married

  • Must pay a $40 fee

  • Informal marriages may be registered at the county clerk’s office on a form provided by the Vital Statistics Unit of the Department of State Health Services

What if one of you can’t make it?

If one of the marriage license applicants is unable to apply for it in person and is 18 or older, the other applicant can apply on their behalf. According to Texas Family Code Section 2.006, the person applying on their behalf should present the following to the county clerk:

Per Section 2.006, a clerk may not issue a marriage license when both applicants are absent, unless the clerk is presented with affidavits stating that they are active duty military members currently stationed in another country.

How to get a copy of your marriage license

To get a copy of your marriage license, you must purchase it from the county clerk where the license was issued. If you don’t know where the marriage license was issued, you can use the marriage indexes available from the Texas Department of Vital Statistics to search for the marriage record.

In Tarrant County, you can obtain a copy of your marriage license by mail, in person at one of these locations or online. The fee is $21 for one copy and $10 for each additional copy purchased at the same time.

What’s the difference between a marriage certificate and marriage license?

Marriage certificate is a term commonly used when referring to marriage-related documents, but it is not used in the Texas Family Code.

Some people mistakenly use the phrase marriage certificate when referring to the marriage license that is issued by a Texas county clerk for a formal marriage. A marriage license is the correct term for the legal document used to provide proof of the marriage. However, some Texas counties offer a keepsake marriage certificate for an additional fee, though this may be separate from the marriage license itself.

Marriage certificate is also used when referring to a declaration of informal marriage, which is the document that can be filed with the county clerk to register a common law marriage. To get a copy of your informal marriage declaration, contact the county clerk’s office where it was filed. For couples that choose not to declare their common law marriage, documents like lease agreements, tax returns and insurance policies may be requested in order to prove the marriage.