A marriage license is generally a signed document which authorizes two individuals to get married. This license is often being issued by the state authority or by the church. The whole procedure for getting the marriage license depends on the jurisdictions of each state, with time; this procedure has continued to change. In the past, the issuing of marriage licenses was adopted to authorize a marriage which would have been regarded as illegal. If you have more specific questions, you should visit U.S Marriage Laws for answers.
In recent times, marriage licenses have become very compulsory in some states and can also be rendered as the marriage record if the couple signs it. In some other states, it is not necessary to obtain a marriage license. In some states as well, one can obtain a pardon to marry without having a marriage license. There are some states where there is nothing like a marriage license, it is not in existence. In these states where there are no marriage licenses, the couple receives a marriage certificate after the ceremony is over.
A brief history of marriage license
Marriage is an agreement (private) between two people from different family backgrounds. This is mostly among westerners. It was close to the 17th century when churches began to validate a marriage through the declaration of a couple. In the Catholic Church, a marriage can still be authorized and validated if the two parties just claim that they have exchanged vows with each other even if there is no witness.
There are some states in the United States (US) where cohabitating publicly is enough to validate a marriage. It was in the 19th century that the records of marriage licenses from the governmental authorities became available. In colonial America, some have been available since the early 17th century. In Massachusetts, marriage licenses became a legal requirement from 1639.
The United States (US)
Before the 19th century in the US, common-law marriage was being regarded as a valid marriage, but some states began making common-law marriages invalid. North Carolina and the Western Northern Carolina which is now known as Tennessee never validated common law marriage unless the marriage was held or entered in a completely different state entirely. These states, however, recognize valid marriages which were being held under the laws of another territory, nation, or state. But these do not include interracial, bigamous, same-sex, or polygamous marriages.
Different states have different specifications for issuing marriage licenses. But one general specification is that two parties of the would-be couple must be present in person before the license can be obtained. The two parties should have gotten to the age of marriage (18 years of age; but if lower than that, parental consent will be required); the two people desiring to get married must not be married to any other person (for a person who was married, the death proof of the spouse, as well as the divorce-proof, must be available).
In the past, some states such as Oklahoma, Florida, Indiana, California, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Mississippi, New York, and Wisconsin required the two parties to undergo a blood test before they can be able to obtain a marriage license, but in recent times, this requirement has been stopped. The reason for carrying out this kind of test is to check for diseases such as rubella, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, and tuberculosis. These diseases were only discoverable through blood tests.
In many other states, the two parties will have to wait up to 6 days after the license has been granted before they can go ahead with the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the two parties will be required to sign the license of marriage. In some states, a witness or two will be required. After, the couple can now request for a certified piece of the license and their marriage certificate. In some states, the couple will have to wait till one month or two after the license has been issued before they can be able to file a certified piece of the license.
The issuance of a marriage license in America depends on the governance and requirement of the state where the marriage ceremony is held. However, the whole country will still acknowledge and recognize that marriage.