Tips & Guides

Complete Guide to North Carolina Marriage License + Laws

If you are eloping or getting married in North Carolina, then you have come to the right place – this is a complete guide to North Carolina Marriage Licenses & North Carolina Marriage Laws. I am going to walk your through EVERYTHING you need to know about getting married in NC. By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to get a NC marriage license and what laws you’ll need to follow.

Ready to tackle all of the boring, legal stuff so that you can move onto the more fun elopement planning things? Let’s get into it!

North Carolina Marriage License + Laws

Overview of Basic Marriage Requirements in NC

Witnesses required: Yes (2)
License is valid for: 60 days
Waiting period: None
Minimum age requirement: 18
Who can officiate: Any regularly licensed officiant or ordained minister/priest/judge
Self-solemnization allowed? No
North Carolina residency required? No
Blood test required? No
Cost: Varies by county

Counties to Get Your Marriage License for a North Carolina Elopement + Wedding

If you are eloping in some of North Carolina’s most popular areas, here are the counties you’ll need to go through to get your NC marriage license, with links to marriage licensing info for each one!

Marriage License Wilmington, NC

Some of North Carolina’s most popular beach elopement spots are located in Wilmington. For example, if you are looking to elope at Wrightsville Beach then you’ll need to go through New Hanover County to obtain your NC marriage license.

New Hanover County Marriage License

Marriage License Charlotte, NC

Please note that Charlotte consists of multiple counties so you’ll need to do your research on which county you will need to apply for your marriage license in.

Mecklenburg County Marriage License

Marriage License Asheville, NC

If you are looking to elope in the mountains of North Carolina then you will likely be applying for your NC marriage license in Buncombe County.

Buncombe County Marriage License

Steps to Getting your Elopement + Wedding Marriage License in NC

1) Research the county you’ll need to apply through

Once you know where your elopement ceremony will be taking place, figure out which county you’ll be getting married in & look up that county’s specific rules, restrictions, fees, & processes. You can find a list of Register of Deeds here!

2) Fill out your North Carolina Marriage License Application Online or In Person

You will then complete your application either online, if available, or in-person at the local county Register of Deeds. North Carolina requires BOTH parties go to the office in-person to finalize the license and pay the necessary fees – make sure to bring a valid photo ID showing your birth date (e.g. your driver’s license, passport, etc.) and any other required documents.

3) Submit your license after your wedding

After you get married, make sure that either you or your officiant submits your license back to the county Register of Deeds to finalize it. Your wedding day has to take place within 60 days of the date your license was issued. Your marriage certificate will be mailed back to you!

Man and woman dancing and smiling at each other with the mountains in the background.

NC Marriage License FAQs

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

You can get your marriage license immediately, there is no waiting period.

How much is a marriage license in NC?

The cost of your North Carolina marriage license varies based on what county you will be getting married in! However, it is usually around $60.

How long is a marriage license good for in NC?

Your North Carolina marriage license is valid for 60 days after issued.

Do you need a witness to get married in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina requires you to have 2 witnesses for your North Carolina elopement ceremony!

Can a notary marry someone in NC?

Yes, as long as the notary is licensed in North Carolina. If someone is licensed in a state other than North Carolina then they cannot marry someone in North Carolina.

Can you get married in North Carolina without a ceremony?

You need to have some sort of legal ceremony but that doesn’t mean you have to have a huge, long, “traditional” ceremony! It could just be you, your partner, and your officiant, in the mountains for a super casual ceremony that only lasts a couple minutes. No need to make it fancy – all that matters is that you & your partner declare your intent to marry!

You can also opt for a private vow exchange, if you’d like to say your vows in a more intimate setting, and then have a simple ceremony with your officiant to get the legal part out of the way. This is something that many couples choose to do if they’re eloping and they’d rather keep their vows private, then knock out the legal ceremony with a few close friends afterward!

How to change your last name after marriage in NC?

The first thing you’ll need to do is change your name with the Social Security Administration via mail or at a local SSA office, you’ll need your marriage certificate & the appropriate proof of identity & citizenship. Once you have been issued your new Social Security Card then you will be able to get your new NC driver’s license via a local DMV office. With those things changed, you will then be able to change other things like bank accounts and passports.

How old do you have to be to get married in North Carolina?

You need to be at least 18 years old to get married in North Carolina, or have parental consent if you’re 16-17.

Do you have to be a resident to get married in NC?

No! You do not have to be a legal resident of North Carolina to get married in North Carolina.

Who can legally marry a couple in North Carolina?

Any regularly licensed or ordained minister/priest/judge/notary can officiate a wedding. If you want a friend/family member to legally marry you then they will just need to make sure they go through the appropriate channels to become a licensed officiant/minister/notary. You cannot self-solemnize in North Carolina!

Your North Carolina Elopement + Wedding Photographer

Hey friends, I’m Tessa, your North Carolina Elopement & Micro-Wedding photographer!! I’m OBSESSED with this incredible state and helping couples turn their weddings into the adventures of a lifetime. I offer NC elopement packages for every couples needs and I would love to help capture your North Carolina elopement! Contact me HERE to get started planning your North Carolina Elopement adventure!

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I'm a micro-wedding and elopement photographer in Upstate, South Carolina. My style is documentary—I love capturing the in-between, unposed moments between you and your love. I strive to know you and capture you at your most authentic.