How to Get Legally Married in New Orleans and Plan Your NOLA Wedding
New Orleans is a city-parish located in the southeastern region of Louisiana. The parish is the most populated city in Louisiana and serves as a major port within the Gulf Coast region. Also referred to as The Big Easy or Crescent City, New Orleans is known for its distinct cuisine, historical architecture and annual festivals.
Needless to say, there is a lot to do and see in New Orleans but before you start planning your wedding itinerary, it's important to have your legal affairs in order. This means going through the steps to acquire a New Orleans marriage license. Don't worry, the marriage certificate process is pretty straightforward and you'll be strolling down Bourbon Street in no time. To begin the process, head over to Louisiana's Department of Health website to familiarize yourself with the application requirements. It's also important to look into the name change process which requires additional forms.
How to Get Married in New Orleans
The following are a few details you should keep in mind when applying for a marriage license in New Orleans.
Is there a waiting period to get married in New Orleans?
Yes, there is a 24-hour waiting period after the issuance of the marriage license. But if you really can't wait a day, or there is another reason you need your NOLA marriage certificate ASAP, judges of the First or Second City Courts can waive the waiting period for Louisiana residents. On the other hand, if both parties are not Louisiana residents but the wedding ceremony will take place in Orleans and be performed by a registered Orleans officiant, then the officiant may waive the waiting period. If you choose to pursue a waiver, you must attach the document to your completed marriage certificate when it is sent to the Vital Records.
What are the legal requirements to get married in New Orleans?
According to Louisiana law, anyone 18 years of age or older can be married in the state. Applicants who are 16 and 17 years of age cannot marry someone 3 or more years older than themselves. However, parties who are 16 and 17 years old and wish to be married can do so as long as they have written consent from their parent(s) or legal guardian, as well as an order from a Judge of Juvenile Court.
Another note: Louisiana is one of the three U.S. states which allows for couples to enter a covenant marriage. If a couple opts for this path, they must sign a Declaration of Intent that stipulates they will live together forever as partners and can only seek a divorce or legal separation under specific circumstances.
What's considered a common law marriage in New Orleans?
The state of Louisiana, which includes New Orleans, does not recognize a common law marriage as a legal union. You and your partner will have to complete the marriage license application to be considered legally married in the parish (and the state).
New Orleans Marriage License 101
Now that you are more familiar with the legal requirements, it's time to begin the application.
What do you need to get a marriage license in New Orleans?
When you head to the Orleans Marriage License Office (Benson Tower, 1450 Poydras Street, Suite 407), you will need to have the following documents and fees on hand:
- A current driver's license, state ID or passport for both parties
- A certified birth certificate/birth card for both parties (no photocopies are allowed). If your birth certificate is not in English, attach a certified translation. If you were born outside of the U.S., you will need a valid passport or visa with an I-94 form. If you cannot present a certified birth certificate, a waiver can be accepted.
- Social Security Numbers for both applicants, if born in the U.S. If you or your S.O. was born outside of the U.S., you will need to present a valid passport or visa with the attached I-94 form.
- If applicable, a certified copy of the final divorce decree from either applicants' previous marriage. A widow or widower will need to present a certified copy of the death certificate of their deceased spouse.
- A $27.50 marriage license fee payable by cash, check, credit/debit card or money order
What does a New Orleans marriage license cost?
As mentioned, a New Orleans marriage license will cost $27.50, plus an additional $5 per certified copy of the certificate and a $0.50 mailing charge per document.
How long does it take to get a marriage license in New Orleans?
Once you complete the application, it will take 24-hours for your marriage license to be processed and approved. It's also important to note that a New Orleans marriage certificate will expire after 30 days from its issuance.
Can you apply for a marriage license online in New Orleans?
The short answer: it depends. You can complete the marriage license application online prior to appearing at the parish license office, but both parties must be present with all of their required documents to sign the license. However, there are two exceptions. If one applicant is absent, the application can be accepted if their signature on the application has been separately notarized. If said absent application is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, a copy of a military ID can be accepted in lieu of their signature as long as there is one applicant who can sign the application in person.
How do you get a copy of your New Orleans marriage license?
There are three ways you can obtain a certified copy of your New Orleans marriage license. You can go to the Vital Records Central Office with your photo identification, the correct fee and a completed application. The office is open from 8:00 a.m. EST to 3:00 p.m. EST and only accepts cash, check or money orders. If this option is not available to you and/or your partner, you can also mail your application with a copy of your photo ID and the fee to the Vital Records Registry. Keep in mind that it will take eight to 10 weeks for your copy to be delivered. Lastly, you can request a copy through VitalCheck Network. The downside to this option is that there are additional fees.
How to Plan a New Orleans Wedding
Phew! You have completed the marriage license process and now you can focus on planning the wedding ceremony and reception. Here are a few things to keep in mind that may also give you some inspiration.
The Different Areas to Consider for a New Orleans Wedding
New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish which means there is considerable ground to cover when visiting. There are several major districts within NOLA, including Algiers which is a historic neighborhood known for its jazz roots. There are also popular districts to visit, such as the French Quarter which is the oldest neighborhood in Louisiana and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. If you are overwhelmed by the possibilities, you can stroll through Bourbon and Canal Street where you will stumble upon restaurants, shops and concerts. New Orleans is located in the Mississippi River Delta which means you could also have a water view at your reception if desired.
What to Look For in a New Orleans Wedding Venue
New Orleans is world-famous for its unique architecture. Throughout the cityscape, you can find bungalow homes, townhouses and courtyards with balconies. That said, New Orleans' wedding venues offer truly unique beauty. From hotels in the heart of the city to mansions with outdoor seating, there is a wide variety of venue options. To begin your search, consult The Knot Marketplace to find the perfect New Orleans venue for your big day.
How to Find New Orleans Wedding Vendors
One thing is for certain, New Orleans' catering pros will not disappoint. NOLA is famous for its food which combines Creole and French cuisines with hints of Spanish, African and Cajun traditions. When you are searching for a vendor, choose caterers who embrace local flavors and offer classic New Orleans dishes. Some possible dishes to serve at your reception include po' boy (a fish sandwich local to Louisiana), gumbo (a popular Creole stew) and jambalaya (a Creole and Cajun rice dish). In addition (or in place of) your wedding cake, consider serving beignets (French doughnuts) and praline (a type of sugar candy) to satisfy your guests' sweet tooth.
You may also want to hire a floral and decor pro to decorate your venue with bright colors and lights to agree with the city's personality, as well as a band or DJ to play at your ceremony and reception. Given New Orleans' rich music history, live music is a must.
The Best Times of Year to Have a New Orleans Wedding for Good Weather
Choosing the right time of the year to have your New Orleans wedding is pivotal. Overall, the climate is humid subtropical with short, mild winters and long, hot summers. In terms of precipitation, the summer months are the wettest while the fall months tend to be drier. On the plus side, snow is rare in Louisiana. On the downside, hurricanes are an unfortunate reality for Louisiana residents. New Orleans has been affected by severe weather throughout history, such as Hurricane Katrin in 2005 and most recently Hurricane Ida this year. The hurricane season typically goes from June to November, but this can vary each year. It is best for the safety of your wedding party that you keep an eye on the weather to choose the best date.