Make it Official: Getting a Houston Marriage License

Photo: D. Jones
Photo: D. Jones

Hey Houston bride with the wedding in the works—you got a license for that thing?

If you’re planning to get hitched in Houston, you’re going to need a marriage license from the Harris County Clerk’s office. To get one, you and your fiancé will need to pay a visit to either the main office, or one of numerous branch offices.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

•    To get a marriage license without parental consent, both parties need to be 18; 16 with parental consent.

•    You need to purchase your marriage license at least 72 hours, but no more than one month, before the date of your ceremony. The license expires 30 days after the date on which it was issued, if the ceremony has not been conducted in that time. The 72-hour “waiting period” is automatically waived for military personnel, who can get married as soon as they have their license (though they’ll need to show military ID at time of license purchase).

•    To purchase a marriage license, you need to bring a valid ID with you to the county clerk’s office (driver license, DPS ID card, passport, resident alien card or other government-issued identification).

•    The fee for the license is $71 (a bargain, considering it’s for a lifetime of wedded bliss).

•    You DO NOT need to bring a witness to purchase your license; you DO NOT need to have a blood test.

•    Once you have your marriage license, you’ll need to be married by someone authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in Houston.

These include

–Licensed or ordained Christian ministers and priests
–Jewish rabbis
–Officers of religious organizations who are duly authorized by the organization to conduct marriage ceremonies
–Justices of the supreme court; justices of the court of appeals; judges of the district, county and probate courts; judges of the county court-at-law, courts of domestic relations and juvenile courts; retired justices and judges of such courts; justices of the peace; retired justices of the peace; and judges and magistrates of the federal courts of Texas

They do NOT include:

–Friends who owe you a favor
–The guy who dresses as General Sam Houston at the annual San Jacinto Day Festival & Battle Reenactment
–Your beloved Labradoodle, Mr. Snickers

So put that visit to the county clerk on your calendar (no less than three days, no more than 30, BEFORE your wedding day), and make a date of it—a romantic lunch for two, a stroll and a signing of the document that makes it official in the eyes of Houston, Texas and everywhere else.