How long does it take to get a marriage license in Illinois?

After applying for an Illinois marriage license at the county clerk’s office where the wedding is taking place, it will be issued to you immediately. There are no waiting periods and the license is valid for up to 60 days and takes effect the day after it was issued.

Getting Married in Illinois

First off, congratulations on deciding to get married in Illinois! Obtaining a license in Illinois is a fairly simple process but has a few requirements.

Applying for a Marriage License in IL

In order to give you a better idea of what the process is like, we’ll use a real-world example:

Sarah and Richard live in Lake County, IL. They’re engaged and have been planning their big wedding day for months. Beyond a last-minute change of venue, everything else has gone smoothly. The seating arrangements are settled, the menu is decided, and all is going swimmingly. With the wedding day two weeks away, there’s only one thing they haven’t done yet: the marriage license.

At this point, it might strike you how on top of it Sarah and Richard are. Even the napkins are picked out and ready to go! So why wait seemingly up until the last minute to get the marriage license? Simply put, they have to.

Marriage licenses are issued quickly in Illinois but only valid for 60 days and only in the county they’re issued. As you might recall, Sarah and Richard had a last-minute change of venue. Since the license has to match the venue, they wisely chose to hold off on the application until everything was set in stone.

The wedding venue is in Cook County, and even though they filled out the application online in advance they still need to both physically be there to pick it up. To get the license they need to go to one of the Cook County clerk’s six vital records locations[1].

When they get there they need to have:

  • Valid ID with proof of age (Driver’s License, Passport, Birth Certificate)
  • $60 for the marriage license fee

And that’s it! They arrive at the clerk’s office, let them know the application was filled out online, present their IDs, sign the license and they are off!

Additional Considerations

While not relevant to Sarah and Richard’s example, there are a few additional things to keep in mind.

  • If either person were previously married, they need to know the date the marriage ended, the county or state the divorce or death was recorded in and how the marriage ended. There is no waiting period or span of time you must be divorced to get remarried in Illinois.
  • Out of state couples can get a marriage license in Illinois, but only if the marriage is legally recognized in their own state.
  • Licenses for same-sex marriage can be issued in any county clerk’s office in Illinois.
  • Once the wedding actually happens, you have 10 days to send in the proof of the marriage back to the clerk’s office.

When Will Your IL Marriage Certificate Be Ready to Pick Up?

Sarah and Richard will pick up their marriage license on the same day they go to pick it up. Even if they hadn’t filled out the application online in advance, they would still get it back the same day. But remember, just because it’s fast doesn’t mean you can wait until the last minute. The marriage license only becomes valid 24 hours after it’s issued, so we recommend you don’t run to pick it up the day before.


References: [1]Cook County Locations

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