If you wish to acquire a certified marriage certificate free of hassles, you will need to know where to go. There are two common options and then a few less typical locations where you might find what you seek. The normal locations would be either at the State or County Clerk’s office where the marriage took place, or by using an online search service.
How to use Governmental Agencies for Vital Statistics
Some states file marriage licenses with the state clerk, others use the county clerk, but the process for getting your copy is the same. Find the state’s website and connect to the appropriate clerk.
Fill out the application for the certificate. This can usually be done online. Then explain why you need a copy. States place restrictions on who can access this type of public document, retaining the illusion of privacy. The spouses listed on the certificate, children and grandchildren of the wedded, and siblings are usually the only ones allowed to obtain a certified copy.
You will need to have both the groom’s name and the maiden name of the bride. A government issued ID will be necessary to prove who you are. Expect the process to take a few weeks. If you can’t do this over the internet, make sure to include a SASE with your application and letter of request.
Are Marriage Records Considered Public Records?
Marriage certificates weren’t commonly filed with the State until the early 1900s. For confirmation of earlier marriages, you might need to scan church documents and newspapers. It wasn’t uncommon for people to post Banns, be married by traveling clergymen, or simply take up living together in the earlier years of our history. The only mention of such things would be in public documents like newspapers and bibles.
Online Search Services for All Your Vital Statistic Needs
Search services online have taken the time to compile the data available from public databases into one place. When you join such a service, you get access to their extensive information. As long as you don’t desire a certified copy, this is the perfect place to validate marriages.
An additional benefit is that you don’t need to have quite as much information when you start your search. Whereas the state wants you to provide the location of the ceremony, the name of both parties, and justify your query, a search service will be able to trace a marriage certificate without a maiden name or exact location.
You enter what you have and the search engine will pull up all likely matches. You use your common sense and family history to narrow down your choices. You can still go to the state afterwards if you want that certified copy.
As you can see, your best option to find that marriage certificate free of a lot of hassle is a search service. Additionally, if you do join such a service you get access to a lot more than just marriage licenses. You can search criminal records, liens, reverse phone numbers and more.
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