What Changed for Getting Married in Alabama?
Getting married in the state of Alabama is now a little different than it use to be. The traditional marriage license has been replaced in Alabama by an affidavit document system, which means a couple will need to receive paperwork from any Alabama county courthouse, then get a Notary of Public to verify signatures, and then return that paperwork to the courthouse records division to register themselves as legally married.
The proper paperwork is available at some Alabama state courthouse websites and can be easily downloaded to print-out. Both the bride and the groom will need to sign in front of a Notary of Public along with showing proper identification. The good news is that the bride and groom do not have to get notarized at the same time. However, the latest date between the two notarized signatures will become the official date of marriage.
No Ceremony, But…
A marriage ceremony will no longer be a requirement in order for a marriage to be recognized as legally binding. However, I will be offering a Covenant Marriage Ceremony, registered with CrossHope Chapel church, so a bride and groom can still have an important benchmark and basis of commitment through an exchange of vows in the eyes of God.
The one negative about this no ceremony process is that it shorts the groom from what is typically an important and serious moment of commitment.
Here’s what I mean, the groom will like the fact that no ceremony is required so lady’s you will likely find it easier to get your boyfriend to man up and sign the Affidavit, but the wedding ceremony is the one feature that causes a guy to take the marriage commitment seriously.
I’ve officiated over 4000 weddings and have helped hundreds of those brides go through the planning and preparation for their wedding and without exception, the groom is the one who most nervous and most likely to tear up.
Brides are stressed during the whole countdown and planning phase but when they are standing there in front of me, they realize it came together as planned and they are relaxed.
Grooms, on the other hand, put the date in their calendar and forgot about it until they realized it was time to meet the minister and get married. For the groom, the ceremony is like the first invoice coming due on a new car that was financed with no payment for three months.
The ceremony is real to the groom. And what most people don’t realize is that a man doesn’t want to fail at what he commits to, so it is a good thing that a groom takes a ceremony seriously.
Religious vs Civil Ceremony…
Traditionally, with a required Marriage License, an ordained minister like myself provides both the duel “Religious Wedding Ceremony” and the “Civil Wedding Ceremony” at the same time.
The difference for the bride and groom will be that I will no longer say “By the powers vested in me by the State of Alabama” because the affidavit part at the courthouse will be the civil part or legal state part. I will likely say something to the effect of “By the powers vested in me as an ordained minister and pastor of a church congregation, I hereby present you in the eyes of God, as husband and wife.”
The Covenant Marriage Ceremony is a lot like a Vow Renewal ceremony in that it is all “in the eyes of God” rather than in the eyes of the state. It may not be recognized for marriage rights in federal government matters without the affidavit, but when it comes to financial and healthcare matters, a Power of Attorney assignment or a Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Living Will) can give the same rights as an official state legal marriage affidavit.
Covenant Marriage Ceremony…
The requirements for me to officiate a Covenant Marriage Ceremony will be the same, for couples who comply with CrossHope Chapel’s Position on Marriage & Sexuality and Wedding Officiating Policy, are not currently married to someone else in any state, or not waiting for a divorce to go into effect (required waiting periods per state), and comply with the State of Alabama affidavit requirements:
“The affiant is at least 18 years of age; or the affiant is at least 16 and under 18 years of age and has the consent of a parent or guardian. The affiant is legally competent to enter into a marriage. The parties are not related by blood or adoption such that the marriage would violate Section 13A-13—3, Code of Alabama 1975. The affiant is entering into the marriage voluntarily and of his or her own free will and not under duress or undue influence.”
It is important to know that a Covenant Marriage Ceremony is only a Christian religious ceremony that is not recognized by the state or federal institutions for the purposes of claiming or extending any marriage rights such as tax credit, judicial revocation and compensation, etc., unless the bride and groom file the marriage affidavit at the Alabama courthouse.
I will issue the bride and groom a Covenant of Marriage certificate to be signed by the couple, myself, and a witness (if available but not required). The wording on the certificate is…
Believing that God in His wisdom as Creator has established marriage as a Christian relationship between one man and one women, as a sacred lifelong commitment of mutual love and respect, we voluntarily and in good faith, enter into this covenant for the fulfillment of our vows, reliance on the grace of God, and by solemn pledge in the eyes of God, our family, our friends, and each other on this, the _________ day of the month of ________________________ in the year __________________ at ______________________________________________________________________.
Questions or Comments
Please contact me if you have any questions or visit the Mobile County Courthouse or the Baldwin County Courthouse website for additional information. The actual law can be viewed here on the Alabama Secretary of State website.