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How to Make Your Marriage Legal when Getting Married in Iowa

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

Are you getting married in Iowa and want to make sure it's done correctly? Obtaining your marriage license if you live in a different state (or if you are an Iowa resident) doesn't have to be a troublesome task!

Obtaining the Marriage License

To apply for a marriage license the couple intending to marry and one witness (someone that’s acquainted with the couple and is 18 or older) will need to come into any Iowa county recorder's office and fill out the application. The applicants and witness must have a photo I.D. The fee for a marriage license is $35. No blood tests are required for Iowa marriages. The license does not expire, but it will not be valid until 4 days after filing for the license (the date of application is excluded). So if you come in on a Monday, your license would be valid on Friday. See the handy chart below for your convenience.

If you are unable to come in to the recorder's office in person, you can contact any county's recorders office to have one mailed to you. This form must be completed and signed before an authorized notary public and mailed back in with payment.

Can a friend or family member marry us?

Yes, as long as they get ordained online anyone can officiate a legal marriage in Iowa. Need some help in getting them ordained? Try the American Marriage Ministries or Universal Life Church. Your wedding can also be officiated by a member of the clergy, a professional officiant, or a judge.

After the Ceremony

So what happens after the wedding? The next business day, return the Certificate of Marriage form (that has been signed by the officiant, both you and your partner, and 2 witnesses) to the County Recorder in the county that issued the marriage license. That is the important part: although you can obtain the license from any county in Iowa, it must be returned to the same county that issued it. So if you get your marriage license from Pottawattamie County, return it to Pottawattamie County. This is a duty typically handled by the officiant and must be done within 15 days of the marriage.

For more detailed information, take a look at this pamphlet developed by the Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Health Statistics.

Hopefully this has taken some of the stress away from making sure your wedding is legal. Since an Iowa Marriage license doesn't expire, get it taken care of as early on as possible and check one more to do item off your list!

Want to read more wedding tips? Check out our other wedding blogs!

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