How to Get Legally Married in Illinois and Plan Your IL Wedding

Your Midwestern wedding awaits.
Emily Halonen Bratcher
by Emily Halonen Bratcher
Updated Aug 09, 2021

Planning a wedding in Illinois? One of the first decisions you'll have to make is where to tie the knot—and this state has a variety of areas to choose from. For example, Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, might appeal to urbanites searching for a luxury wedding while rural Illinois might attract couples looking for a rustic countryside affair.

After choosing the location, couples should take moment to make sure they've met all the requirements for obtaining an Illinois marriage license in the county where they plan on saying "I do". Next comes choosing your venue and vendors, and The Knot Marketplace has you covered with thousands of options. And don't forget to research the name change process, if you're planning on going that route post-wedding.

How to Get Married in Illinois

Before engaged couples can start reserving venues and booking vendors in Illinois, they should first ensure they've met all of the state's requirements for a legal marriage. This includes requirements related to age, previous marriages and marriage license applications.

Couples should note that Illinois also recognizes civil unions as an alternative to marriages—and these provide the same state protections and benefits of marriages. Civil unions are not however recognized by federal law. A civil union license is procured much the same as a marriage license. Here are all the details you need to successfully and legally say "I do" in Illinois:

Is there a waiting period to get married in Illinois?

In Illinois, there is a one-day waiting period before a marriage license becomes effective. However, if couples file a petition showing "sufficient cause," a court can choose to waive this one-day waiting period.

What are the legal requirements to get married in Illinois?

There are just a few legal requirements couples must meet to get married in Illinois. Couples may marry if they are not blood relatives and if they are older than 18 years of age. They must show proof of age with either a birth certificate or a valid driver's license—or another state-issued identification card to obtain a marriage license.

For couples with parties younger than 18 but at least 16 years of age, parents or legal guardians must give sworn in-person parental consent. Couples with one or both parties who are 18 years old do not need parental consent, but they must present a certified copy of their birth record.

Couples must also apply for their marriage license in person at a County Clerk's Office, and pay a fee for the license. The date of marriage must be within one day to up to 60 days after the marriage license was issued, and the wedding must be held in the county where the license was given.

What's considered a common law marriage in Illinois?

A common law marriage occurs when a couple lives together for a long time but never formally ties the knot with a marriage ceremony or marriage license. This type of marriage is not recognized in Illinois. A marriage license is required to be legally married in the state of Illinois.

Illinois Marriage License 101

Getting a marriage license in the state of Illinois is pretty straightforward if you know the requirements, prepare the paperwork, and are mindful of the timeline.

What do you need to get a marriage license in Illinois?

Couples must appear together at the county clerk's office in the county where their wedding ceremony will be held to fill out a marriage license application. They'll need to present a valid form of state ID, and they'll also need to pay a fee for the license.

Couples who were in previous marriages and were divorced must present the date their divorce was finalized--and if the divorce was finalized in the last six months, they must also present a certified copy of their divorce decree. If the marriage ended within the last six months because one of the parties died, a certified copy of the death certificate must be provided.

What does an Illinois marriage license cost?

The marriage license fee varies by the country clerk's office who issues it. For instance, Cook County, where the city of Chicago is located, charges $60 for a marriage license, while Sangamon County charges $75 for a license. This fee can be paid via a debit card, credit card, cash, check or money order.

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

There is no waiting period for a marriage license in Illinois. County Clerk's Offices, which are open Monday through Friday, issue the marriage license immediately. But couples should note that there is a one-day waiting period before the license becomes valid, and it's valid 60 days after it was issued. Couples should note that the officiant performing the marriage ceremony should fill out the bottom portion of the license and deliver it to the County Clerk's Office via mail or in-person.

Can you apply for a marriage license online in Illinois?

Although couples can start the marriage license application process online, they must finish it by appearing at a County Clerk's Office.

Appearing in-person is easier for Illinois residents than non-residents simply because of the shorter travel distance, but because County Clerk's Offices issue same-day marriage licenses that are valid the day after they're issued and up to 60 days after they're issued, couples can obtain them while they're in town for planning purposes. Note that non-residents might be asked to sign an affidavit stating that their home state does not declare their marriage void.

How do you get a copy of your Illinois marriage license?

Couples can request additional copies of their marriage certificate at the County Clerk's Office, or they can request copies online. Couples should note that each copy costs a fee. The Illinois Department of Health, Division of Vital Records does not keep marriage records.

How to Plan an Illinois Wedding

After understanding the legal requirements for marriage, couples can spend time on the fun stuff—planning their dream Illinois wedding. Although there is a lot that goes into wedding planning, from finding the venue to booking all of the vendors, The Knot Marketplace removes some of the stress with its directory of wedding resources organized by location.

The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for an Illinois Wedding

The Prairie State offers an array of locales to tie the knot. For an urban wedding, Chicago might be a couple's best bet. Out in the Chicago suburbs, you can find dozens of barn wedding venues for a distinctly different vibe. But Chicago and its Chicagoland suburbs aren't the only areas to consider: Springfield with its Lincoln history, Oak Park with its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and Ernest Hemingway's childhood home, and Champaign with its collegiate ambiance, make for other interesting areas to say "I do."

What to Look For in an Illinois Wedding Venue

When you're hunting for Illinois wedding venues, the biggest variable you'll want to take into account is the weather. The state is known for its long, sometimes sub-zero winters, which can complicate everything from outdoor ceremonies to air travel for guests. But while the state offers dozens of gorgeous garden wedding locales, Illinois also offers absolutely lovely indoor spaces to tie the knot. Whether your wedding day vision includes an urban oasis in Chicago or a rustic countryside retreat, The Knot Marketplace has rounded up thousands of the state's best wedding venues.

How to Find Illinois Wedding Vendors

From finding caterers to booking videographers, choosing wedding invitations to picking florists, deciding on wedding vendors can be one of the most overwhelming parts of planning for the big day. To make your research easier, The Knot Marketplace has compiled lists of the state's best wedding vendors.

The Best Times of Year to Have an Illinois Wedding for Good Weather

In the state of Illinois, winter lasts about eight months of the year. Planning a wedding in the summer months, or in early fall, is the best chance at ensuring good weather for the big day.

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