Whether you want to check if your new partner is or has been married or you want to learn more about your ancestors on both sides of the family, you will need to search marriage records. This is now easier than ever before thanks to the internet, but if you are new to this task, you may get confused by the diversity of the papers available out there. This quick guide will help you get a clear idea of what types of records are available and which ones will be most useful to you.
Individually Issued Documents
In the marriage records, you can find marriage licenses which are documents giving two people permission to marry one another. They have been issues for quite some time now so you can go pretty far back if genealogy is your particular interest. The licenses and the applications for them contain very detailed information on the two people who intend to marry. They typically contain their full names, ages and residence. Newer licenses often include the birth dates of the bride and groom, the names of their parents and even their race. Other details may be available as well.
Marriage licenses have one limitation, but it is serious and you cannot afford to overlook it. These marriage records show an intention to marry, but they don’t reveal if the couple has actually been married. This is the case most of the time, but not always. The only type of individual document which is proof of marriage is the marriage certificate.
The person who performs the ceremony, be it a clerk or a priest, is required to prepare and sign this document. It is then given to the married couple. A copy of the marriage certificate is kept on record. Since the records are public, anyone can request to see the copy and possibly obtain a copy of the copy. Certified copies, however, are available only to the couple.
Official Local Registers
The county clerk registers should have an entry of each marriage in the local area. The information on the register includes the name of the bride and groom, the date of the event and the name of the person who has performed the ceremony. The residence of the couple may also be included. The same applies to the names of the witnesses. In general, local registers are quite easy to search for marriage records, especially if you know the full names of the bride and groom.
You are now perfectly well prepared for finding the marriage records which you need.