Colorado Marriage License & Self Solmenizing

It’s incredibly easy to get a Colorado marriage license and legally get married here in the Rockies. This is by far one of the most popular questions I get from couples. So I have this complete guide to walk you through the process! Let’s start with what makes this process such a breeze: self-solemnizing!

What is self-solemnizing?

Colorado is a self-solemnizing state, meaning couples do not need an officiant or any witnesses to legally get married. You can choose to get married all by yourself! This makes the process so much easier. The two of you are the only ones who legally have to sign the marriage license to make it official. Technically, you don’t need to bring the marriage license with you for your elopement or wedding. You could go to your appointment, sign the paperwork, and return it right back to the County Clerk. But most couples choose to pick up the paperwork and sign it officially after their ceremony on their wedding date. I love getting to take photos of the moment it becomes official!

bride and groom signing marriage license at wedding venue

Can we still have an officiant and witnesses?

Absolutely! While not required by state law in Colorado, a lot of wedding couples still choose to have an officiant to help lead their ceremony. You can hire an officiant but a lot of my couples choose to have a close family member or friend be the officiant. For witnesses, there is a spot for two signatures on the marriage license as well. So you’re welcome to have your loved ones sign the marriage license! It’s entirely up to you.

Also, Colorado uniquely allows dogs to be legal witnesses and sign your marriage license with their paw print. So if your pups are tagging along, you’re welcome to include them in signing your marriage license. It’s adorable and perhaps the most “Colorado” thing possible. You can read my blog post on how to include your dog in your wedding to learn my tips.

Marriage License vs Marriage Certificate

A lot of couples get confused by having both a marriage license and a marriage certificate. A marriage license is the official document making you legally married. A marriage certificate however is just for decoration. It holds no legal significance. You’re welcome to fill out the marriage certificate on your day if you want to frame it or just have it signed for personal reasons. You’ll need to return the marriage license to the County Clerk office, but you can hold onto the marriage certificate as soon as you fill it out.

Marriage License Requirements

While the process is easy, you still need to bring the appropriate documents to your appointment just like you would when you go to the DMV.

  • Both partners must be present at the appointment (although there is a notary process if not possible)
  • Both partners must be 18 years old or older
  • Legal form of identification (driver’s license, passport, military ID, etc)
  • $30 cash for the marriage license and a small fee per marriage license copy (cash works best since some counties don’t allow checks or credit cards).
  • Parents’ names and current address(es)
  • Place of birth (city and state)
  • Last four digits of Social Security number
  • Previous marriage/divorce information if applicable (date, place, and court where granted)

Marriage License Process

You’ll need to figure out which County Clerk office location is the most convenient for you and apply for an in-person appointment. I have a list of County Clerk offices below to make this easier! You’ll bring all of the documents/required info from above to purchase your marriage license at your appointment. You can use the marriage license and fill it out as soon as you pick it up and it’s valid for 35 days. Of course, most couples sign and return it within the same week.

Once you sign your marriage license and return the paperwork, it’s official! You’ll receive the requested certified copies of your marriage license by mail that you can use to legally change your name, update legal documents, etc. Most couples request 2-3 certified copies but the county clerk office can answer any questions you have about receiving copies. You can always request additional copies later on if needed.

Marriage License Tips

1) Book Your Appointment Soon: My most important tip is to book your appointment as soon as you can. If you want to get your marriage in a small mountain town like Telluride or Breckenridge, they have very small government offices. So they have limited appointments available and sometimes have unique requirements (for example: only being able to book an appointment 3 weeks in advance). It’s not something to stress about but it will make your life easier if you can get an appointment for the date/time that’s most convenient.

2) Remember to Bring Your Marriage License: I know this sounds simple but some couples forget their paperwork at their Airbnb. It’s usually not a big deal if we’re already going back to your Airbnb for cake, photos, etc. But if you want photos in the best lighting after your ceremony, be sure to put your paperwork in your backpack, in the car, or next to your car keys so you don’t forget.

3) Use A Padfolio: I always love it when officiants or a couple have a padfolio to sign their marriage license. Not only does it look more official for photos, but it’s also really practical. Padfolios usually have a clipboard clip to hold the paperwork down on a windy day and it gives you a flat surface to write on. If you’re having witnesses or a dog sign it, it’s also a lot more convenient for them. Plus, you can go ahead and store a black ink pen in the padfolio so you don’t forget! But in case you do, I always have a black ink pen in my fanny pack for this very reason.

Colorado County Clerk Offices

Your marriage license is valid in any county in Colorado. So you don’t have to get married in the same county where you pick up your marriage license. So choose the county that’s most convenient for you. Denver County (Denver) and La Plata County (Durango) are two of the bigger County Clerk offices and where most of my couples visit before heading into the mountains. But if you’re spending a whole week in Telluride, getting your marriage license up there might be the most convenient option. Be sure to read the County Clerk’s requirements and appointment guidelines. Each office handles the process a little differently.

Bigger Cities (more appointments available, farther from your destination)

Denver County Clerk Office (Denver) – Most convenient for those flying in or visiting the Denver area. Tons of appointment options are available. Their website makes the process easy to understand.

La Plata County Clerk Office (Durango) – Most convenient for those eloping in the San Juans and traveling through Durango.

Smaller Mountain Towns (fewer appointments, closer location)

San Miguel County Clerk Office (Telluride)

Ouray County Clerk Office (Ouray)

San Juan County (Silverton)

Summit County (Breckenridge)

Pitkin County (Aspen)

Larimer County (Estes Park)

Final Thoughts

As you can see, getting your marriage license in Colorado is pretty straightforward! Feel free to chat with me during the booking process if you have any more questions. I’m happy to help! Now that you understand how to legally get married, you can check out my blog post on how to plan a wedding ceremony next! I cover lots of tips to help you plan a ceremony that’s unique to your relationship and wedding plans!