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21Oct/120

3 Ways to Find a Marriage Certificate

If you are searching for a marriage certificate, there are some things you need to know.

First, not everyone can get a copy of a marriage certificate. Second, there are several ways to find one. Third, it can be very difficult to track down certificates if you don’t have complete and accurate information.

With that in mind, here are three ways you can track down a marriage certificate, be it your own or someone else’s.

Apply to the State for Your Marriage Certificate

Each state has a database that allows you to request vital records.  The catch is that some states keep marriage licenses and certificates at the state clerk’s office, and others keep them with the county clerk.

In either case, you will need to know the names of the bride and groom, as well as the bride’s maiden name.  You will need to know where the marriage took place and on what date.

If you have that information, you will need to send along a letter explaining your need for the document.  If you are searching for your own certificate or that of a close relative, there is usually no problem in obtaining a copy.  If you are not a close relative though, the decision really falls to the discretion of the clerk replying to your request.  In a genealogical search, there may be more leeway for your request, but no clerk will entertain idle curiosity.

Search through Old Records Yourself

If you know where the marriage took place and are willing to search old records, this may be a good way to dig up old marriage records that are not entered in computer databases.  It can be a real hit or miss proposition to dig up these old records, and sometimes you will do better checking old newspapers for the printing of Banns or public notices of a wedding.

To be effective in this kind of search you must be certain where the marriage took place.  In many small towns around the country, church records and local newspaper notices may be the only way to establish a marriage took place.  Using the information in old family bibles is the best place to start, but expect this kind of search to be time consuming and often unsuccessful.

Use an Online Search Service

If you don’t need to possess a certified copy of a marriage certificate, the best way to verify that a marriage took place is to use an online search service.  These companies have accessed the public databases around the country and compiled the information in one place.

You just need to enter the data you have and let the search engine pull up likely matches.  You won’t need all the data the state wants, which makes it easier, You can do this at any time of the day and night, making it much more convenient.  For speed and efficiency, nothing is as effective as letting a search service find marriage certificate information for you.

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