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Michigan Marriage Laws

Michigan combines natural beauty with modern luxuries to become a perfect wedding destination for engaged couples. The Great Lakes State is home to both relaxing resorts and quaint bed and breakfast inns, with something to suit the taste of every love-struck fiance. For example, Mackinac Island is a famous wedding and honeymoon spot on Lake Huron. There couples can wed at the historic Grand Hotel or Mission Church, and then spend their honeymoon frolicking on an island-sized resort full of sandy beaches and old-world charm. Honeymooners can also rent their own secluded cabin on the shores of Lake Michigan or Huron. However, Michigan has a few restrictive marriage laws that will require careful planning before a wedding can take place. Those looking for a quick elopement may find themselves stymied, but for patient couples the wait is certainly worth it.

Valid US ID

Michigan requires a valid photo ID for all marriage license applications. This includes passports, drivers’ licenses and military ID. Both of the engaged couple must also present their birth certificates and also their parents’ information. This includes addresses and maiden names.


Michigan residents can apply for a marriage license in a county in which one of the engaged couple lives. They can then marry anywhere in the state. Non-residents, however, must apply in the county where they will be married. Non-residents also pay higher fees.

Waiting Period

Michigan has a three day waiting period, which does not include the day the marriage license application is filled out. This can be waived for extenuating circumstances, but don’t count on it if you’re in a hurry.

Length Marriage License is Valid

Michigan marriage licenses are valid for 30 days. If the license expires or you decide to marry in another county, you will need to apply again and go through another waiting period.

Medical and Other Tests

Michigan does not require any medical or blood tests to complete a marriage license application.

Age Requirements

The legal age of marriage in Michigan is 18. If either of the couple is underage, his or her parents will need to attend the application process with the same ID requirements as listed above and give consent. A probate court will need to approve any marriage of a teenager aged 15 or younger.

Marriages by Proxy

Only one member of a couple needs to be present to fill out a marriage license application in Michigan, but both must be present at the wedding ceremony. As such, proxy marriages are not allowed.

Previously Married

Requirements of proving marital status vary by county. If you have a prior marriage, you will at least need to know when it ended and where. Some counties also need to see actual divorce papers or a death certificate to verify marriage eligibility. If your marriage ended within the last six months, you must bring documentation state-wide. Be sure to call the county clerk ahead if in doubt.

Fees and Taxes

Different Michigan counties charge different fees. The most widespread fee is $20 for state residents and $30 for non-residents. Since some counties charge more, it’s best to come prepared. Also note that county clerk offices only accept cash, so don’t come armed with only checks and credit cards.

Marrying a Cousin

Michigan does not permit the marriage of relatives who are closer than second cousins. If it is discovered after a marriage is solemnized that the couple are first cousins, the marriage will be declared null and void.

Common Law

Common law marriages occur when a couple has been living together and presenting themselves as married for a certain amount of time. Michigan does not recognize any common law marriages prior to 1957.

Same Sex Marriages

Michigan citizens passed a law in 2004 banning same sex marriage. No marriage license will be issued to same sex couples, and homosexual marriages are not recognized.

Wedding Officiants

Michigan allows a wide variety of officiants in marriage ceremonies. Most judges can marry couples, as well as mayors, magistrates, clergy and county clerks. Some cultures are also allowed to marry according to their traditions. Michigan requires a witness during the ceremony, although the witness does not need to be 18.

Obtaining a Copy of Marriage Certificate

A marriage license signed by the officiant and a witness and completely filled out can be sent into the proper county clerk’s office. A marriage certificate will then be mailed out upon reception.

Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling is not required in Michigan, but couples may wish to take advantage of the three day waiting period to prepare themselves for marriage. Counseling services are available in most major cities.

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