Posted in Guides for Brides and Grooms, marriage license

How to Obtain a Pennsylvania Marriage License

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The COVID pandemic has changed how Marriage Bureaus operate. Some require in-person appointments, others allow you to submit all your documents online and meet with an official virtually.

Here are the most commonly asked questions, and the answers, regarding obtaining a marriage license in Pennsylvania.

  1. Where do we go to obtain a PA marriage license? 

You can obtain your license from the Marriage License Bureau (part of the Register of Wills) in any Pennsylvania County, regardless of where in PA your wedding will be held. See below for locations and more information.

  1. When do we need to get our marriage license? 

A PA marriage license is valid for 60 days from the issue date, and must be acquired at least 3 days prior to the wedding date.

  1. Do we both need to be present – in person or virtually – to get the license? What do we need to bring or provide to obtain the license? 
  • You do both need to be present to get the license.
  • You will need a photo ID and your social security numbers
  • If either applicant has had a name change or a previous marriage, you will need documentation of these circumstances.
  • The county’s fee
  1. Where are the marriage bureaus near me? When are they open? Do any of them have evening hours?

Each County has its own application, fees, and hours of operation, though they are all similar.  Go to the county that is most convenient for you.

Philadelphia Register of Wills.  Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm.  Philadelphia requires you to make an in-person appointment. Complete this Marriage License Appointment Questionnaire to book an appointment time.

Philadelphia Register of Wills Address: Room 180 City Hall Philadelphia, PA 19107
Philadelphia Register of Wills (215) 686-6250
For Marriage Licenses:  (215) 686-2233 ( To apply for a marriage license)

Montgomery County Register of Wills  During the COVID-19 emergency, all marriage license applications will be online and finalized during a WEBEX video conference. Applicants may login from different locations. NOTE: You need to apply for your license at least 4 weeks before your wedding date. Here is the Montgomery County online marriage license application.

Delaware County Register of Wills Open Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm. Virtual appointments (using Microsoft Teams) are available for couples who seek a marriage license—couples can complete the entire process without having to leave their homes. Couples should begin the process of applying for a marriage license at least thirty (30) days in advance. For info about the virtual appointments, use this guide. In-person appointments are also available.

Bucks County Register of Wills All apppointments are being done virtually. Before you begin your application, it is important to watch this video tutorial. The tutorial can help you avoid any errors in applying.  Instructions for how to apply online and request a virtual appointment are in this document from the Bucks County Register of Wills. (Scroll down to the sections for Marriage Licenses.)

Chester County Register of Wills Open Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 4:00pm and until 6:00pm on Wednesdays. Applications are accepted by appointment only. Check the Marriage License site for information about fees and documents, and to schedule an appointment. 

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Posted in Guides for Brides and Grooms, name change

How to Change Your Name after Marriage, if you want to

Now that you are married, you might want to change your last name to your spouse’s, or both of you might want to change your last names.

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You are not required to change your name after marriage; it’s a personal preference. Whatever last name you choose to use, recognize that changing your name is a process; everyone will need some time to get used to your new last name. Including you!

If you do want to change your name, be consistent. You don’t want to cause confusion or difficulties when you file your taxes, apply for a mortgage, open a bank account, or manage your credit.

You can manage the name change process yourself, or use a name change service/kit.

Regardless of your approach, you will need to:

  1. Obtain several copies of your marriage certificate from the marriage bureau where your license was filed.
    • What is a marriage certificate?
      The official document from the County that demonstrates that the marriage is on record.
    • Is the marriage certificate different from my marriage license?
      Yes.
      Step 1: You obtained a marriage license to get married.
      Step 2: Your Officiant signed and filed the license with the county, making the marriage legal.
      Step 3: Now you need proof that you were married legally, and that’s the marriage certificate (sometimes called the “certified copy of your marriage record”). An official marriage certificate has a raised seal on it.
  2. Change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
    • Go to the SSA first, before you change your name anywhere else.
    • When you change your name at the Social Security office, they enter the name change in their database.  Many other places where you will change your name will check the SSA database.

Do it yourself: The following guides walk you through the name change process:

Brides Magazine’s Definitive, Step by Step Guide to Changing Your Name

LegalZoom’s guide to Changing Your Name After Marriage

Use a Name Change Service/Kit: (Note: I don’t endorse any of these in particular, and the names of these kits make me cringe. They each cost money and you still have to complete a bunch of forms. But, if they make it easier on you, go for it.)

Hitchswitch Name Change

MissNowMrs.com

NameChangeKit.com

How did your name change process go? Do you have any suggestions for others?

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Posted in Guides for Brides and Grooms, marriage license

What is a Pennsylvania Self-Uniting marriage license?

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Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is legal for couples to unite themselves in marriage, in front of witnesses, without an officiant needing to sign the marriage license.  Blasphemous?  Exactly the opposite.  Self-uniting marriages have been an accepted means of getting married for Quakers in Pennsylvania since 1682. Quakers believe that marriage should be between the couple and God, without needing an intermediary.   So, what is the difference between a self-uniting marriage license and a regular marriage license?

When you go to the marriage bureau to get a license, tell them that you want a Self-Uniting license.  These licenses sometimes cost a little more than the type that requires an officiant.

A Self-Uniting License requires both members of the couple plus two witnesses to sign the license on the day of your wedding.

Some couples self-unite by creating and conducting their own ceremonies.  Other couples ask a friend or relative to create and conduct the ceremony as the couple self-unites.  (A caution: Not all friends or family members are good at conducting ceremonies.)

If you do want to self-unite, consider asking Celebrant Robin to create your ceremony or guide you through the writing. Then, you can use that ceremony as you unite each other wherever and whenever you choose.