The four things you need to get married (in the US anyway) are:
1. The couple (you guys!)
2. An officiant (Judge or minister usually, they have to meet qualifications.)
3. A witness
4. A marriage licence.
The marriage licence is what give you permission to be legally married.
It it not related to religion or any church qualification.
It says to the gov’t, basically, “I have filed all my paperwork and proven that I am legally able to marry this person.”
Assuming you are getting married in the U.S., call your courthouse tomorrow.
I know that in Pennsylvania where I am, marriage licences are good for 60 days, and require a 3 day waiting period (apply, wait three days, pick up, you then have 60 days to get married before you have to pay for another one).
But, laws are goofy on this and vary from state to state. Some states still require blood tests I think. Might take time. So call tomorrow. Today. I mean it. This one is important.
Call the county courthouse in the county where you are getting married. These questions:
1. Do I have to get the licence from this courthouse since I am getting married in this county, or will another courthouse in the state work? Can I get it from the courthouse nearest to my home? — if yes, call and go to that one. Remaining questions are for the courthouse you will go to.
2. I am getting married August 11th. Can I apply now? Is there a waiting period?
3. Do both of us need to be there in person to apply, or just one of us?
4. What do we need to bring? Drivers licence, birth certificate, social security cards?
5. If either of you were previously married, ask about that too. You usually need to show a death or divorce certificate to prove you are not still married. If this applies to you, there is probably one on file in some courthouse somewhere and you may have to hunt down a copy.
6. How much is the fee? Do you take checks or only cash?
7. What hours can I apply? We will be in!
Go apply. Wait any waiting period required. Pick it up. Don’t lose it. You are not married yet. Give it to your officiant on the day of your wedding. There are parts of it he has to sign off on. Your witness may also have to sign.
You are married whenever your officiant says “husband and wife”. Or maybe legally whenever he signs the certificate, not sure which. But she/he will do both in the same day, and that is the day you are married.
After it has been filled out by your officiant, either he or you will need to mail it back to the courthouse. Do not forget this.
You will take home a “marriage certificate”. This is only a keepsake, kind of like “birth certificates” you get from hospitals that are really only cutesy mementos but not legal paperwork. A legal marriage certificate will be kept on file at the courthouse. It will be at the courthouse you applied for it at, that is why you should get it at the one nearest home if that is possible. If you ever need it for some reason, you will have to request a copy from that courthouse.
At least, this is how it is in my state, I got mine last week so this is still all in my head.
If you get married at the courthouse on Friday, then you are officially and legally married on Friday.
You can still have a ceremony by a nonofficiant on Saturday. You might consider the ceremony Saturday a “spiritual” marriage or maybe it is a religious ceremony and you feel “married in the eyes of God” or something because of it. But in the eyes of the U.S. Gov’t, you are married on Friday.
If you go this route, I would advise keeping your courthouse marriage on the down low, unless everyone will be at both. Just to avoid people talking, because everyone always has that one friend/relative with some opinion. Personally, if this is what suits your needs, I think courthouse Friday and ceremony Saturday is fine!