Believe it or not I've had two recent experiences where the couple I was asked to married forgot to the marriage license. So here's what happened. I received and email over the weekend a little after midnight from the bride saying she and her fiance forgot the purchase they're license. The wedding was scheduled for the following Friday (five days away). She asked if they could just move forward with the ceremony, get the license afterwards and have me sign it later. Unfortunately and legally I can't do that. Marriage licenses can't be back dated and in order to make the marriage legal, the license has to be presented before the ceremony and signed by the officiant.
How did we fix this problem?
I replied back to the bride via email (I just happened to check my emails at 1 o'clock in the morning) and told her not worry and she still had time. I explained about the legalities that were involved. I told her to go to the County Clerk's office on Monday and get the license and she would still be within the 72 hour waiting period the State of Texas requires. I didn't hear back from her but knew she was probably busy with last minute details of her wedding since it was just a few days away.
On the day of the wedding, Friday October 20, 2017, I arrived to the venue 45 minutes early (as I always do) to meet the coordinator, look at the ceremony space and layout and say hello to the couple to let them know that I've arrived. And guess what? She had the marriage license. Yaaaaaay!! She was so thankful for my guidance. She went down to the County Clerk's office first thing Monday morning and got the license. Her fiance wasn't able to get off work but they still allowed her to get it without him being present.
In the end, this worked out beautifully. What did I learn? I learned that I should probably do a reminder with my couples just to make sure they have the license.
The other bride who contacted me about her wedding did so two days before the wedding. She called me on Thursday and her wedding was on Saturday. They didn't have the license. Once again I explained that this would be a problem and the marriage would not be legal but she could still go ahead with the ceremony if she wanted to. She was expecting approximately 100 guests. She was dealing with a lot. Her initial choice for an officiant backed out just days before the wedding, his name was already on the program and he was a family member. I felt so bad for her. She understood about not being legally married without the license. She said she just wanted to be married "in God's eyes."
What can we learn from these two stories? Sometimes it seems so obvious to get the marriage license simply because you're getting married right? But I also understand that in the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding, hosting out of town guests, confirming final details, the marriage license can be an after thought.
As an Officiant and Mistress of Matrimony, I take partial responsibility for making sure all of my couples have their license and they are not scrambling at the last minute to get it!