When most people think "wedding" they think white dresses and daddy walking you down the aisle and cake and flower girls and maids of honor and all things princess-like. For many people, this is true. Their parents have been saving up for this day to pay for it. Their moms have dreams. The bride and groom have dreams and they work pretty hard for a year to make it happen. But. That's a wedding. That has nothing to do with getting married.
Getting "married" is actually a few things. It's a technical and legal thing. Ask any same sex couple what the fuss is all about. The actual piece of paper that is a certified marriage certificate goes a long way. You can get health insurance, you can get military benefits, you may have a better chance at getting custody of your children. You can visit your partner in the hospital and have a say in their care. It changes your income status for certain mortgages - and, if something goes wrong - it means you get half! I have a rush of legal marriages in December because when they can file their taxes married filed joint they save money that they can then turn around and use to pay for their June wedding. You can even get this great thing called a green card!
I married one couple that didn't realize common law marriage was no longer legal in Indiana - until he was in ICU. I had to go there. Don't tell their grand kids. They had no idea!
I have a favorite wedding reading by Robert Fulgham that I often use from "Union." He says "you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” — those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding." This is very true. It's not vows that you make to each other and it's not a party that make a marriage. It's the day to day of life that make a marriage.
When I decided to start officiating weddings I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured it was all big parties and happy times. And, yes, there is a lot of that. But there are also all the other things that go into weddings. We often look at that picture in our mind of what a wedding is supposed to be and compare everything to it. If you don't have a father active in your life it has somehow tarnished it. Your dad dreamed of giving you away at your wedding but he recently passed away... Or It's something your grandparent or parent always dreams of - dancing at your wedding. That means you must have a father figure and music and a dance too! Your dress must be white, you must have flowers, you must have a bridal party, and all that stuff....
I've seen quite a few things. I have great and crazy stories. One groom said I should have my own reality show. My dad wants to know when I'm going to write my book. And, they have a great point, but I'm dealing with real people living real lives. We offer the cheapest wedding in the state. I have the $50 quickie I do out of my house in Fishers. You can come and have your marriage license signed. You can have a ceremony, music, candles, pictures, your parents and grandparents can come. We have had people pay in all change because that's all they had. I had a couple come and barter for a wedding offering an exchange. I've had couples come in tux's and dresses. I've had couples come in their sweats or pajama's. I've had very pregnant brides and very small babies. All shapes and sizes and colors. I've had people from all over the world in my living room to get married. I've also officiated big, beautiful, formal weddings in large, beautiful, expensive venues all over the state.
Some of my more interesting stories are wedding's I've officiated without the paperwork. They didn't want to be legally bound. I performed a big wedding for a very religious family several years ago. The bride was still in school and didn't want to lose her student aid. I performed the ceremony and we didn't tell anyone we didn't sign any paperwork. A few years later, they caught up with me to sign their marriage license and make it legal. She had 2 children and finished school. She had even legally changed her name so no one knew they weren't married! I laughed so hard and couldn't wait to tell my friends "the rest of the story." That information came in handy when I had an older couple ask me to officiate their wedding. They were both widows and didn't want to get "legally" married for financial reasons of a different kind. I explained how the bride could legally change her name and they were quite interested in that. Another couple came for the $50 quickie without the paperwork. They already had one child together and they were pregnant with twins! They really wanted to be married and exchange their vows and that's what we did. It was beautiful. Their reasoning was she was in grad school and had one semester left. The interest rates for a single mom with 3 kids was a lot less then that of a married woman with 3 kids and the extra income of her husband. I have couples come all the time to make their marriage legal in secret and then they have the big, formal wedding for family and friends later.
I had one wedding that was planned and the bride and groom kept pushing the ceremony up. Her father was very ill. Finally, they called and asked if I could come to her parents house and perform the ceremony there. My life was changed forever that day. The meaning of marriage is somehow magnified when the bride and groom are at the point of saying "for better or worse, in sickness and health" at the death bed of a parent. He passed away shortly after that.
I'm a non-denominational minister. I'll marry anyone. I have a very deep personal belief in God and I respect atheists who don't and welcome them. All I have is a piece of paper that allows me to legally marry couples in Indiana. It works. The majority of the weddings I perform are non-religious and simply romantic. I'm a great stand up comedian or leader of group prayer. Marriage is different for everyone. We each define what it is for us. I've married people I'm not sure even knew each other. I've married a man and a woman - both in wedding dresses. I've married men to men and women to women - although not legally (yet) in Indiana. Hey, the ladies at the court house know me!!
Technically, to get legal in Indy - you don't need much. It's like the new Vegas. There is no waiting period and no witnesses required. I have couples come from neighboring states to get married here quickly and in secret for whatever reasons. Your Indiana marriage license is legal in most other countries. I married a couple from Canada who said this was so much easier and cheaper then getting married at home. I had a couple from Scotland a few summer's ago. The only thing is you have to get your marriage license during business hours that makes stealing away for a secret weekend elopement a little difficult but they get here by end of day on Friday often!
You you want to get married in Indiana you need to be at least 18 year old or have a parent with you to sign for you. If you are over 65 you can marry a first cousin! I married a couple this winter and their grandparents had been married 54 years. Back then, the bride was 17 or 18 with no problem but the groom's mom had to sign for him because he was under 24! All you need is a valid drivers license, for the most part. If your address is not correct on your drivers license you will need proof of address. If you are from out of state a passport or drivers license is fine. Indiana residents need to apply at the county clerk's office in the county in which they reside. If the couple resides in different Indiana counties, they can go to either county. The license is good anywhere in the state of Indiana. If you are not a legal Indiana resident you need to apply in the county in which you are being married. I live in Hamilton County so if you are coming to Indy from out of state for a $50 quickie you need to go to the Hamilton County Clerk because that's the county I live in and where I marry couples. If you are coming from out of state and your ceremony is going to be in Downtown Indy and I'm going to marry you there, you get your marriage license in Marion County. Don't bring an out of state marriage license! I can't make that legal for you.
In most counties in Indiana you can't just run down to the court house to get married. Some counties do have marriage services but they are at certain times on certain days and by appointment. You will need to make an appointment with a judge or minister or perhaps a lawyer to marry you. There are all sorts of people offering the service at all different prices. I have a service where I will meet you at the Marion County Clerk and marry you right there. You can apply for your marriage license online, go and pick it up, I'll meet you in the office, sign it for you, you can turn it back in and walk away with your certified marriage license. Boom! You got married on your lunch break! The cost for the license for in-state residents is $18, out of state residents is $60. My fee is $95. If you want to save more money, meet me at my house and I'll do it for $50. It's actually a very nice little wedding at my house too!
What a wedding officiant legally has to do is watch you sign the document and then we sign with our information stating we witnessed it. Be careful! I spoke with a couple who went to an officiant downtown. He had them sign the document first, then he asked for payment. He said his credit card machine was broken they needed to pay cash! People, it's 2014, it's virtually impossible to have a broken credit card machine. (I take payments on my phone, if my swiper is broken or not with me I can type in the numbers and I can access the account on any on-line device) They got up and left. A lot of couples don't know better. Ask the people that work in the clerk's office. They aren't allowed to recommend an officiant but they can tell you about us if you ask. Generally they will sent you to Google to search or give you the card of a local judge.
Every county in Indiana has differences and I'm giving you the best of my knowledge at the time I'm writing this. I'm more then happy to answer additional questions for you. It's my job! And, I really LOVE my job!! You can easily call the clerk's office and ask questions. The information is also available online. Marion County spells their information out for you however the other counties send you to a general state site. Many counties allow you to apply online many don't. They all have different policies for obtaining a legal copy of your marriage certificate. Their hours also vary.
I hope you have found all of this information helpful! If you need someone to marry you I'm available every day for every kind of wedding.
Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful wedding!
For more Information:
Marion County: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/County/Clerk/Marriage/Pages/MainMarriagePage.aspx
All counties in Indiana - General info: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/2605.htm
To be married in the State of Indiana, a couple must have a marriage license. To apply for a marriage license in Indiana, both you and your future spouse must appear in person at the Clerk's Office in an Indiana county where one of you resides, or for non-residents in the Indiana county where the marriage will be solemnized.
Before you apply for a marriage license, familiarize yourself with the process outlined below.
1: Are you eligible to be married in Indiana?Age. The Clerk can issue a marriage license if:
- Both applicants are 18 years of age or older;
- One or both applicants are 17 and parents or legal guardians are present to provide consent;
- One or both applicants are younger than 17 and have a court order granting permission to obtain a marriage license;
- Either applicant is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when applying;
- Applicants are both the same gender;
- Applicants are more closely related than second cousins (though there is an exception if you are first cousins and both at least sixty-five (65) years of age).
- Either applicant has been judged to be of unsound mind, unless the adjudication has been removed.
2: When to applyA marriage license is valid for 60 days from the date it is issued, and couples may be married as early as the same day. Couples who do not marry within the 60 days must apply for a new license before marrying.
3: What to take to the Clerk's OfficeIdentification. Be sure to bring one of the following forms of identification to prove your identity and date of birth:
- Current, valid drivers license or state-issued ID card
- Birth Certificate
Indiana state law (IC 31-11-4-6) includes "any written evidence of the individual's date of birth that is satisfactory to the clerk." Local policies vary by county, so you may want to contact the clerk's office in advance. In addition, if this documentation is in any language other than English, it may be necessary to have it translated and notarized before submitting it to the clerk.
You will also be required to provide your Social Security Number, although your Social Security Card may not be required.
If you were previously married, you will need to provide the date your marriage ended. In addition, some counties require a certified copy of the divorce decree.
Genealogical Information. The Clerk's Office will collect some family information from you that will be reported to the Indiana State Library (by law) for the purpose of genealogical research. You will need to provide the following for both parents:
- Full Name
- Last known address
- Birthplace (state or foreign country)
Ready to Apply?If you are eligible as outlined above, have all the necessary documentation, and you're ready to apply for a marriage license, you can apply at the Clerk's Office in the county where you plan to file.
While you will still have to appear at the Clerk's Office to complete the process and receive your license (as required by law), starting your application online will save you time at the Clerk's Office.