How to Find United States Marriage Records
Start Here: Where Did the Marriage Occur?
To find a marriage record, choose the state where the marriage occurred:
- What if you don't know the state? — Go to How to Estimate Marriage Information
Tips about Searching United States Marriage Records
- Some couples were married in locations away from their home county where marriage laws were less restrictive. See the wiki page Gretna Greens.
- Most marriages are recorded on the county level.
- Most counties began recording marriages when the county was formed.
- Many counties forward marriage records to state agencies.
- Marriages recorded by state-level agencies vary widely by date and availability.
- Some marriages may only be found in church records.
Frequently Asked Questions about United States Marriage Records
How do I find my ancestor’s marriage record?
- Use the Finding US Marriage Records wiki page
- Check online indexes and digital images
- Check repositories, such as archives and libraries (FHL)
- Obtain certificate from the government agency ($$)
Why would I want to search for a marriage record?
- May give the exact date and place where the couple was married
- May indicate date and/or place of birth for bride and groom
- May list names and birthplaces of the bride’s and groom’s parents
What information does a marriage record include?
State and county officials followed different laws when gathering marriage information. Usually the following was included:
- Names of the bride and groom
- Where the bride and groom were married.
Some records also contain:
- Bride and groom's age at the time of marriage
- Residence of the bride and groom
- Birth date and/or place of the bride and groom
- Names of parents
- Birthplaces of parents
- Marital status of bride and groom--single, widowed, divorced
More information about US Marriage Records can be found on United States Vital Records wiki page.
Questions to Ask About Marriage Records
- Are records available for the dates when I would expect my ancestor to be getting married?
- Is the marriage database complete? Does it include all counties in the state?
- Does the marriage database contain images to the records which I can see online?
- Is the marriage database an index only? Will I need to order a film to see the original marriage record?
- Have I looked beyond the marriage date and names of the bride and groom for more family information that the record may contain?
- Is there more than one type of marriage record in the county? Does an additional county marriage record contain more information about my family?