How to Get Your Marriage Paperwork in Order

Getting married? That’s great, but there’s a lot of work to do!

Marriage is the beginning of a new life and a life-long commitment to your partner. But there’s something you still need to finish — all the marriage paperwork. There’s a lot of things you need to decide, fill out, and sign to be a legally married couple.

To make things easier for you, we’ve listed some things you need to take care of before you tie the knot.

Decide How You’ll Merge Taxes

You have the option of either a Marriage Bonus or Marriage Penalty. A marriage bonus means you get to pay less in taxes when you combine your incomes. On the other hand, a marriage penalty will do the opposite and often gets imposed on couples with a similar income.

Decide If You Want to Merge Finances

If you’ve decided to stay together for the rest of your lives, you have to have a fixed plan and list on your expenses and income. You should also agree on who pays for what and who will manage the money. There are also three things you need to agree on:

  • If your partner has debt, decide if he/she will pay off that debt alone.
  • Set up a target amount that you and your partner should reach every day, month, or year for your emergency funds.
  • Make plans for long-term savings like for your retirement.

A quick way to know how much you need for retirement is by using the 4% rule.

You should also decide how you’ll be saving for a house or if you’re planning to have a family. Create a savings plan to accumulate how much you’ll need for down-payment and all-in-all.

Decide If You’ll Get a Prenuptial Agreement

What is a prenuptial agreement? A prenuptial agreement will protect your financial assets in the event of a divorce or the death of your partner. Lawyers will draft your prenuptial agreement, or you can draft one yourself and have it checked by a lawyer.

The agreement should have a list of your financial assets and existing debts if there are any. It should have clear conditions on what will happen to those assets and debts in case of a divorce.

Find A Wedding Officiant

To file a marriage license, you need to get it signed and mailed by the officiant who conducted your marriage. There are a few options you can choose from and one is finding a local Justice of the Peace.

Contact the county clerk’s office where you’ll be getting your wedding license and ask them for a list of those who are willing to perform wedding ceremonies.

You can also head to your city hall where you need an appointment and they’ll quickly marry you. In some states, you can get your friend or relative to get a one-day of being Deputy Commissioner of Marriages.

Lastly, you can get a religious officiant who fits you and your partner’s religion.

Marriage Paperwork You Need Before Your Wedding

Got your financial requirements settled? Now it’s time for the marriage paperwork checklist. Here’s what you’ll need:

Your Marriage License

Try to get your marriage license at most a month before your ceremony. Most states need the signature of both groom and bride, the officiant, and one or two witnesses. A marriage license will usually expire after 30 days, but you can pay the fee again to get another license.

There are requirements you need to bring when getting a marriage license:

  • Blood Test
  • ID
  • Documentation regarding previous marriages

If you have gotten married before, you need to show certified documents on how the marriage ended like a death certificate or a final divorce decree.

There are also other things you need to check in your country like requirements for age, same-sex marriage, cousin marriages, and proxy marriages.

Marriage Paperwork You Need After Your Wedding

The legal work doesn’t end on the day of the wedding. There are some details to hash out afterward. It starts by deciding if the bride will change her last name or not.

Will You Change Your Last Name?

After your marriage ceremony, you will have to sign a marriage certificate where you can decide if you’ll change your surname.

Changing your surname is entirely up to you, and if you decide to change your last name, you’d have to go through the common usage method. This is the act of changing all your paperwork to go by your new surname.

Listed below are some of the paperwork you need to change.

Social Security Card

To apply for a new social security card, you need to have your marriage certificate and proof of citizenship like your birth certificate. Fill up and print out the application for a new social security card and submit it by mailing or personally taking your application to your local Social Security office. 

Driver’s License

When you’ve gotten your new social security card, bring along your birth certificate and marriage certificate. Don’t forget to bring your current driver’s license to your local DMV. You can get in trouble for driving with an outdated driver’s license, after all.

Passport

To get a new passport, simply fill out an application form and mail it to the passport office with your marriage certificate. You should also include a passport-sized picture, ID proof, and your current passport. It often takes four to six weeks to renew a passport.

Bank Accounts

Some banks only need you to send them an application for a name change with your marriage certificate and ID proof. Some banks require you to appear in person to show your new IDs. Others might allow you to do it online.

Post Office

If you plan on moving out of your current address, you can fill out the change of address form on the USPS website. You can fill out and send your application online, there is no need to show them your physical copies.

Finalize Your Marriage Paperwork Checklist

All the paperwork feels like it takes the energy out of you aside from organizing your wedding. However, it’s better to finalize all your decisions and marriage paperwork before the wedding because it can turn out to be much more difficult to handle later on. Once you’ve walked the aisle, you need to aware of the rights and legal responsibilities that come with it.

Was our guide able to help you finalize what you need for your wedding? Do you still want more useful tips like these? We’ve got you covered so feel free to check out our other posts for more helpful guides and top tips!