How to Get Legally Married in Rhode Island and Plan Your RI Wedding

Everything you need to know about planning your Ocean State wedding.
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana Ellman
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana Ellman
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a contributor for The Knot covering topics such as music, cakes, venues and speeches.
  • She has been published in a wide array of lifetsyle-oriented publications including SELF and Allure.
  • Lauren is a proud graduate of Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communication.
Updated Sep 27, 2021

With pristine beaches, excellent coastal views, picture-perfect scenery and quintessential New England charm, the state of Rhode Island is a beautiful place to tie the knot. Also known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island boasts more than 400 miles of shoreline—along with 100-plus beaches.

However, there are a few details to take care of before you say "I do" in Rhode Island. Further, while it's relatively easy to obtain a Rhode Island marriage license and change your last name, there are some important details and logistics you'll need to take care of beforehand.

To help you stay organized throughout the wedding planning process, we're breaking down everything you need to know about getting married in Rhode Island, from retrieving your marriage license to picking a venue and everything in between.

How to Get Married in Rhode Island

When it comes to planning your Rhode Island wedding, you'll want to stay up-to-date on all the requisite details and logistics. Here, we're breaking down everything you need to know about getting married in Rhode Island.

Is there a waiting period to get married in Rhode Island?

While Rhode Island does not have a waiting period to get married, the marriage license is only valid for 90 days (three months) after the issuance date. In other words, you will need to have your marriage ceremony within this timeframe.

What are the legal requirements to get married in Rhode Island?

Marriage requirements in Rhode Island are fairly straightforward. Assuming you are your future spouse are 18 years of age and older, you can apply for their marriage license in-person quickly and easily.

Rhode Island residents can obtain their marriage certificate at your or your future spouse's city/town clerk's office. (However, the marriage license is valid anywhere in Rhode Island, which means you can get married anywhere in the state.)

If you or your partner are non-residents of Rhode Island, don't fret. You can still obtain a marriage license at the city/town clerk's office where the wedding is set to take place. According to Rhode Island law, this license is only valid in the city or town it was issued.

Those who are 16 and/or 17 years of age must obtain a Minor's Permit to Marry, which must be retrieved from the town or city clerk issuing the license. Per Rhode Island state law, the Minor's Permit to Marry must be signed and notarized in the presence of the city or town clerk. Minors under 16 years of age cannot obtain a marriage license without approval from the Family Court.

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What's considered a common law marriage in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island is one of just a handful of states that still recognize common law marriages, which are typically legitimized in Rhode Island Family Court.

First, it goes without saying that you and your partner cannot be married to other people. Additionally, Rhode Island state law requires that you and your partner demonstrate "serious intent" to be married and that you both consider yourselves to be married. These behaviors can include wearing wedding rings, living together or changing one of your surnames.

Rhode Island Marriage License 101

To help alleviate stress while planning your Rhode Island weddings, we've compiled a list of FAQs (with answers, of course!). Read on for the full breakdown of everything you need to do before walking down the aisle.

What do you need to get a marriage license in Rhode Island?

You will be required to apply for your Rhode Island marriage license in-person at the city or town clerk's office. (Note that hours of operation vary across the state, so call ahead of time to confirm.) A marriage worksheet, which can be found online here, must also be filled out.

Most cities and towns will need certified copies of your birth certificates, along with a valid government-issued photo ID. Some offices require additional documentation, so call ahead to be safe.

If you or your future spouse has ever been part of a previous marriage, registered domestic partnership or civil union, you will need to present additional documentation. Be sure to bring along a certified copy of the final decree of divorce, dissolution or a certified copy of the death certificate of the other person.

What does a Rhode Island marriage license cost?

A Rhode Island marriage license fee costs $24.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage License in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island does not require a waiting period, which means your marriage license is valid immediately upon issuance. However, the marriage certificate must be used within 90 days of issuance, so plan accordingly.

Can you apply for a marriage license online in Rhode Island?

You cannot apply for a marriage license online in the state of Rhode Island; however, the marriage worksheet you need to fill out is available online. It can be printed and filled out ahead of time.

How do you get a copy of your Rhode Island marriage license?

You can obtain a copy of your Rhode Island marriage license online, via phone (888-388-1032), in-person or by mail. The easiest way to request a copy of your marriage license in-person is by filling out this form, which can be mailed or submitted in-person at your city/town clerk's office or The State Office of Vital Records. If you don't fill out the form, you will need to provide additional information and documentation. Note that fees vary.

How to Plan a Rhode Island Wedding

If you're getting hitched in Rhode Island, consider incorporating some of these critical details, insight and information into your wedding planning process.

The Different Cities And Areas to Consider for a Rhode Island Wedding

Rhode Island is called the Ocean State for a reason. What's more, beach weddings are especially popular here.

Consider the coastal city of Newport, which is teeming with Gilded-Age mansions and just-as-breathtaking ocean views, or the capital of Providence, a bustling, walkable and waterfront city that's bustling with culture and history. Warwick, Kingston, Middletown and Bristol—all charming and quaint coastal towns and cities—are also popular places to hold a wedding.

What to Look for in a Rhode Island Wedding Venue

Rhode Island wedding venues range in size and type. In fact, the options are seemingly endless, from outdoor vineyards and country clubs to oceanfront mansions and elegant hotels.

Ultimately, where you choose to say "I do" in Rhode Island will come down to your budget and preferences. Get a head start at researching wedding venues by using The Knot Marketplace.

How to Find Rhode Island Vendors

Since Rhode Island is so popular amongst engaged couples, it's relatively easy to find wedding vendors. Wedding pros are available across different price points and vary depending on the date and location—so keep this in mind as you narrow down your choices. Check out The Knot Marketplace to start researching wedding pros near you.

The Best Times of Year to Have a Rhode Island Wedding for Good Weather

In Rhode Island, summer is the peak wedding season thanks to the warm and sunny weather, which allows you to host your wedding outdoors or by the beach. While fall boasts stunning foliage, it also brings breezy weather. If you're hooked on the idea of hosting a fall wedding outdoors, consider giving out warm blankets or shawls as wedding favors. It's challenging to predict springtime weather—which can (sometimes) be chilly, cloudy and rainy—so an indoor or tented venue would be your best bet for a spring wedding in Rhode Island. While winter is quite cold, the snow-covered beaches and icy Atlantic make a pretty backdrop for photos.

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