Ann McKenzie, Raleigh Wedding Officiant answers some common wedding questions:

Q: Where and when do I obtain a marriage license?

A: All of North Carolina’s 100 Register of Deeds offices issue marriage licenses that can be used anywhere in the state. The license can be used immediately upon issuance and is good for 60 days. Both completed original licenses must be returned to the county where it was issued.  You must go in person to pick up your license, the cost is $60.

Wake County Marriage License Application



Q: How do I obtain a certified copy of my marriage license?

A:  You may obtain a certified copy of your marriage license after it has been filed with the Register of Deeds. This can be obtained online at, or by US mail: send  a completed request form, $10 check or money order, and photocopy of a government-issued ID.


Q. How do I change my name?


You must obtain a name change online from the Social Security office beginning 3-17-20. Here is a link to instructions: You will need to complete form SSA-5:  You may want to send a copy of your driver’s license or birth certificate as an additional identifying document but not absolutely necessary since the marriage certificate has a lot of information on it.  Mail the completed SS-5, an original Certificate of Marriage (photocopy not acceptable), any other ID you are submitting to US Social Security Administration,   4701 Old Wake Forest Road, Raleigh NC 27609. It may take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks to get your new card. 

Then present a certified copy of the Marriage License to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) with your new SS card to change your name on the marriage license


Q: How many witnesses do I need?

A: Two witnesses are required. The minister does not count as one of the witnesses. It can be anyone a the wedding. Many times it is the Maid of Honor and the Best Man, the parents of the couple, or family relatives of the couple such as brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.


Q. Who files the marriage certificate after all the signatures are obtained?

A: Usually, the minister will mail the copies to the Register of Deeds after the certificate is signed by the minister and two witnesses. If you are leaving on a trip very soon or need the marriage license for insurance, etc. , you can take it to the Register of Deeds yourself and obtain a certified copy immediately.


Q. What is required for the wedding ceremony to be legal?

A: Your declaration of intent – the wedding vows,  and the pronouncement that the couple is married,  as well as completion of the marriage certificate with signatures.


Q. What are the common types of wedding ceremonies?

A: Spiritual – A non-denominational  or inter-faith ceremony that doesn’t conform to specific religious aspects of the mainstream religious beliefs.

Religious – A ceremony featuring music, poetry, prayers or readings from religious texts or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony.

Secular –  A wedding ceremony that includes rituals, readings, music, and vows but no religious elements; often called a humanist wedding.

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