Getting your marriage license in New Orleans can sometimes be a hassle that will make you want to run to Vegas. But don’t fret! There are ways to make this step much easier. First, don’t even think of trying to go to the Jefferson Parish/Orleans Parish office of vital records. It’s worse than the DMV. Instead, spend $2 and take the scenic and relaxing Algiers Ferry across the muddy waters of the Mississippi to its ferry landing. Once you’re on dry land, look for the clock tower (not unlike the one Doc Brown frequented in Back to the Future). This marks the Algiers Court House. Here is where you will find salvation. If you take a car on the ferry, spend the $5 to park across the street from the building. If not, its a nice, short stroll to the entrance. Once inside, you may or may not go through a metal detector and security check, depending on the break schedule of the security guard. Ladies, you may want to pack light, leaving behind the abyss that we all call a purse, just to shave off even more time, in case the guard happens to be at his post. Head up the gorgeous wooden staircase and toward the beautiful windows to the judge’s office. You may find another couple waiting there, but usually not more than that. Tell the secretary that you are there to get your marriage license and she will hand you some forms to fill out. If you’re really organized, you can do this paperwork in advance by printing it online ahead of time. The application can be found on the Louisiana Dept of Health website here.
Once your paperwork is complete, pay the $27.50 (money order, cash or check only and they don’t always have quarters for change) and within a few minutes you’ll be walking out with your license and detailed instructions on how to process it after the ceremony. This is going to be the job of your officiant, who will want to fill out whatever he can in advance and just have you sign on the dotted line along with your witnesses at the event. Then he’ll take some of the paperwork with him to turn in and leave the pretty, souvenir, strictly decorative copy with you. If you lose it, it does not mean your marriage is null. It means you will only have the ugly copy for your records, once it comes back to you in the mail.
Here are a few details you really need to know before you start this process:
- There is no blood test needed in Louisiana to get your marriage license.
- You will need to show divorce papers, death certificates, visas, passports, and/or military ID’s when applicable.
- You need to have both sets of identification (bride and groom) with you to get the license, but you don’t both have to be there.
- You must get the license within 30 days of the marriage date and have a 72 hour waiting period between the time you get the license and the time you get married. By “time” I mean exact time. They will ask you what time your ceremony is and count back from there. If you are from out of town or military, you can ask for an exception to the 72 hour wait and get a 24 hour waiver. Its not difficult to get. You just need to ask for it.
- The state marriage license is not the same as the one you get from a place of worship. You’ll need both if you’re doing a church ceremony.
- They will not automatically send you a copy of the registered marriage license. You keep the decorative one, but if you want a copy of the official, order it while you’re there.
- Not every state allows their marriage licenses to be transferred to a different state. If you plan to get a marriage license in Louisiana, but are getting married in another state, you’re out of luck. Louisiana marriage licenses do not transfer to other states. To learn if your state license can be used in Louisiana, contact your state’s marriage license office.
- To see the official requirements on getting a marriage license in New Orleans, visit the Louisiana Dept of Health website.
After this 20 minute-or-so process, you’ll be happy and stress-free on your way back to the ferry landing. If you’re there around lunch time, stop off at one of the little cafes around the corner from the courthouse for lunch. The ferry comes every 15 minutes, so you’ll have lots of time to catch your ride!
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