How to Get Legally Married in South Carolina and Plan Your SC Wedding

Get ready for your wedding day in South Carolina with this guide on obtaining your marriage license.
Alyssa Towns
by Alyssa Towns
Updated Aug 14, 2021

If you're hosting a wedding in the Palmetto State, there are certain actions you'll need to take to obtain a South Carolina marriage license. Understanding the rules and laws behind how to make your marriage official can be a bit overwhelming, but by following a few straightforward steps, you'll be officially wed in no time.

Fortunately, the marriage license process in SC is straightforward. We've mapped out everything you need to know to make the process as easy as possible. As long as you know the steps needed to obtain your marriage license, including how to change your name, you'll be ready to make it official (literally and legally). The picturesque venues of your dreams and impressive wedding vendors are awaiting you in South Carolina, so let's get started.

How to Get Married in South Carolina

Legally getting married in South Carolina is pretty easy, but there are a few important things you need to take into consideration when planning for your big day. Here's what you need to know about the legal requirements of and how to get married in SC.

Is there a waiting period to get married in South Carolina?

There is a waiting period of 24 hours from the time of application until the South Carolina marriage license can be issued. After the waiting period expires, either party can pick up the marriage license.

What are the legal requirements to get married in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, under most circumstances, you must be 18 years of age or older to apply for your marriage license. However, as long as you're 16 years of age and have parental consent to get married, you can do so with a notarized letter of consent. Additionally, there's one exception to the parental permission rule. If a woman under 18 years of age is pregnant or has a child, she can marry the father of her child without parental consent in the state of South Carolina.

Neither party has to be a resident of South Carolina to get married in the state (good news for all of those non-residents with their eye on a destination wedding in SC!) And no blood tests are required.

What's considered a common law marriage in South Carolina?

The state of SC was one of few states that allowed common law marriage prior to 2019. Couples who entered a common law marriage in South Carolina before the 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court of South Carolina are still recognized. But the state abolished common law marriages in the ruling of Stone v. Thompson, which means common law marriage is off the table.

South Carolina Marriage License 101

If you and your future spouse have decided to tie the knot in South Carolina and confirmed that you can legally get married in the state (don't forget about the age requirements), you'll need to apply for your marriage license. Here's everything you need to know about the marriage license application process in SC.

What Do You Need to Get a Marriage License in South Carolina?

In addition to the marriage license application itself, there are some key documents you'll want to bring with you to your appointment at the Probate Court. These documents vary by age, so be sure to check the specific requirements at your Probate Court based on your age. Here's what we were able to pin down.

If you're a 16 or 17-year-old minor applicant, you'll need to present proof of age with your birth certificate when applying for your marriage license, in addition to your letter of parental consent from a notary. You might also need to provide a state-issued ID for your parent or legal guardian providing parental consent.

For applicants 18 and older, you'll need to present a valid government-issued ID (i.e., driver's license, military ID, valid passport, current visa, etc.) and your social security cards or other documents that can verify your social security number. If you are a resident alien who doesn't have a social security number, you'll need to present your visa, resident alien card or proof from the Social Security Office stating you don't qualify for a SSN.

To apply for your South Carolina marriage license, you and your future spouse need to show up in person together at the Probate Court. Your marriage license can be used in any county in the state. For the most part, it seems that South Carolina marriage licenses don't expire, but certain counties appear to give a six-month timeframe from issuance for the marriage ceremony to be performed before you have to reapply. Check with the county you're applying in for specifics.

An ordained minister or other religious leader, officer authorized to administer an oath, or a South Carolina Notary Public can perform your wedding ceremony. After your ceremony, you'll need to return the signed copies of the marriage license (there are three identical copies total) labeled "Probate Judge" and "Probate Judge/DHEC Copy" to the Probate Court for processing.

What does a South Carolina marriage license cost?

Marriage license fees vary by county and may range between $30 and $100. Most counties appear to charge right around the $40 to $50 mark. Be sure to check the accepted forms of payment at your Probate Court of choice, which might include cash, credit card, debit card or money orders.

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

Don't forget to factor in the 24 hour waiting period here! In most cases, it doesn't take long to apply for your marriage license in South Carolina, but keep in mind that the state legally can't issue your license to you until after that 24 hour period is up. And you'll need to make sure you get to the Probate Court offices during regular office hours Monday through Friday.

Can you apply for a marriage license online in South Carolina?

You might be able to complete some parts of the process online to apply for a marriage license. Still, you and your future spouse will need to show up at the Probate Court office to finalize your application and present your official documents.

How do you get a copy of a South Carolina marriage license?

You can get a certified copy of your South Carolina marriage license from the Probate Court you obtained yours from or through the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). You can purchase certified copies of your marriage license from the SC DHEC for $12, depending on your purchase method (in-person, by mail and drop-off requests only).

How to Plan a South Carolina Wedding

Now that you've figured out how to obtain your South Carolina marriage license, it's time to plan your big day. If you aren't sure where to start when it comes to planning your wedding in South Carolina, don't worry—we've got you covered. Here's what you need to know about planning an SC wedding and where to get started.

The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for a South Carolina Wedding

South Carolina breeds Southern charm and boasts beautiful locations for you to say "I do." With beachfront, mountainous and coastal locations to choose from, South Carolina truly has it all. Columbia and Charleston are among the most popular wedding venue locations.

Columbia, the largest city in South Carolina and the state capital is filled with Southern hospitality, historic buildings and upscale indoor venues. Whether you're dreaming of an outdoor wedding ceremony or something more elegant indoors—you can find what you're looking for in this city.

Charleston is another great option for your big day. This city is the oldest in South Carolina, and it's a known tourist destination with unrivaled old buildings and historic roads. You'll find jaw-dropping old mansions and delightful park venues in Charleston.

What to Look for in a South Carolina Wedding Venue

Giving your guests a dose of Southern hospitality comes with nearly every venue in SC. No matter where you choose to get married, you'll want to choose a venue that's right for you and has everything to offer to help you bring your big day to life. The good news is, your options are endless, and we've rounded up some of the best options for you to choose from.

How to Find South Carolina Wedding Vendors

Are you ready to start booking vendors for your big day? We've got your back. Start browsing vendors in The Knot Marketplace to make your planning process a breeze. You'll find everything you need, from salons and florists to videographers and caterers.

The Best Times of Year to Have a South Carolina Wedding for Good Weather

South Carolina experiences varying weather across all four seasons. The state is generally humid and experiences hot summers and mild winters. Fall tends to be a desirable time of year for many couples getting married in SC because of the drier weather with crisp days and cool evenings.

It's also important to note that June through November is considered hurricane season in South Carolina, so keep that in mind if you're set on having your wedding day in this timeframe.

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