By JP Payne, Officiant and Celebrant

So, you want to get married in the Commonwealth of Virginia? With all the planning details swirling around your head, it’s easy to forget something as important as a marriage license! Before you tie the knot and make your relationship official, several steps must be taken and certain conditions must be met. Once you follow these directions and secure the necessary documents, you’ll be ready to start your life with the one you love!

JP Payne Richmond Weddings Marriage License
Nicole Vance Photography

Marriage licenses are obtained from the Clerk of a Circuit Court, or from his or her Deputy Clerk. The average cost is $30.00, but other fees may apply. Most courts accept payments only in cash, but some will accept credit card payments for an additional convenience fee. The license is valid for 60 days and there is no waiting period in Virginia. Also, no blood test is required.

The court in each city or county has appointed persons who are eligible to perform marriage ceremonies, namely “officiants” or “civil celebrants.” Ministers of any religious denomination can also perform the ceremony, but they too must be authorized by a Circuit Court. The fee to perform the ceremony is $50.00, but other fees typically apply such as travel expenses, premarital counseling, and the writing of the vows.

Two documents must be acquired from the Court to get married including a “Marriage Register” and a “Marriage Return.” You will get these when you apply at the Court by presenting a legal form of identification such as a driver’s license or passport. The former is a document for the Court; the latter is for the Division of Vital Records. Both are completed by the wedding officiant after the ceremony and he or she returns them to the issuing Court for processing.

JP Payne Richmond Weddings Marriage License
Virginia Ashley Photography

Upon marriage, you may want to change your last name to your spouse’s, but you are not legally required to do so. You may also use a hyphenated surname. Remember to notify certain parties about your name change such as the Social Security Administration, US Department of State, DMV, banks, insurance company, and your employer.

You lock down the venue, caterer, and even the DJ, but it’s important to make sure you have the right criteria to actually say, “I do!” Once you get your state-required documents, all you’ll have to worry about is marrying the love of your life!

JP Payne is a writer by profession. She writes customized vows for every wedding ceremony honoring each couple’s unique relationship. JP gets to know her couples personally and creates tailored vows for every ceremony. JP officiates non-denominational, religious, secular, and LGBTQ ceremonies. You can find more information about JP at, and www. Feature Photo Credit: Nicole Vance Photography.