By far, the two most common inquiries I have received over the last few months have to do with marriage licenses and wedding time capsules. I'll tackle the more important first.
Check back for additional information about time capsules another day. Soon, I promise.
Fake Marriage License
Yes, I have had people ask about producing what amounts to a counterfeit marriage license.
No, your officiant cannot make up a dummy license for you in lieu of one from the state. Neither can you give your officiant a made up license and pass it off to him or her as real. Well, I suppose you can, but you definitely should not. I am not sure what the exact legal term would be, but the word "fraud" springs to mind. It is definitely highly unethical.
I provide my couples with a keepsake marriage certificate - "Certificate of Marriage" in calligraphy with a couple of raised seals, but I make it very clear it is not a legal document. It does not function as a marriage license, which is the legal document from the statement proving your marriage is valid. If you have ever seen a marriage license, you can tell from the picture on the right that the keepsake certificate cannot remotely be confused with a license.
Hiding the Absence of a License
I also had someone ask me what the repercussions would be if she simply did not tell her minister she did not have a license. Since the officiant is typically required to review the license prior to the ceremony, this strategy is not going to get her very far. Especially if she is being married in a denomination that refuses to solemnize commitment ceremonies and will only permit their clergy to officiate weddings that result in a legal marriage. Trust me on this one, a competent officiant knows to ask for the license. Besides, we have to sign it after the ceremony. We are going to register its absence.
Photo Attribute: Susan Eaton
Another person asked, "If I get married right now and no one knows, will they let me get a new license when I have a wedding?" This is likely someone who is eloping or having a small private courthouse ceremony who wants to have a larger wedding with all that entails at a later date.
Once you obtain a marriage license, solemnize the marriage and file that license with the state (i.e. "get legally married"), there is absolutely no reason to obtain a second license when you get around to having a wedding. It may even take the clerk a few minutes to wrap his or her brain around what you are asking. So the easy answer to this question, is "no." Multiple marriage licenses for the same couple will not be issued.
By all means, you can have a traditional social wedding if you are already married though. This is actually not all that uncommon, especially in areas with a military presence. I have officiated a number of such "vow renewal" weddings for couples already legally married. Sometimes everyone present understands the circumstances, and sometimes the couple treats the day as if it is the first day of their marriage. In any case, there is absolutely no need for a second license. Just plan the wedding and have fun.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.