A Guide to Marriage Licenses, Certificates and Name Changes

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming at times.  There is, at once, too much and too little information available, depending on the subject.  For us, navigating the marriage license/certificate and name change processes was difficult simply because no one could tell us how it was done!

This post will give you everything you need to know so you can move on to the fun stuff.

*Please note, however, that the specifics here only apply to Escambia County, Florida.  I imagine the overall process is similar elsewhere.  When in doubt, pick up the phone and call your county’s Clerk of Court.*

Here we go!


This is arguably the most important piece when planning a wedding because, without it, you just had a nice party for your family and friends but you are not legally wed.  There is a waiting period of three (3) days if either applicant is a resident of the state of Florida AND if both applicants have not completed a premarital preparation course from an approved provider.  Don’t get it too early, though, because licenses are only valid for sixty (60) days prior to the big day.

Make sure each applicant has/knows:

  • A valid form of identification
  • Social security number
  • The month, date, and year any previous marriage(s) ended (if applicable)

Cost/how to pay:

  • $86 without premarital counseling
  • $61 with premarital counseling
    • Don’t forget the completion certificate!
  • Pay with cash, Mastercard, Visa, check, or money order
    • Credit card = 3.5% added fee

When you arrive, you will be asked to fill out the license application and to read a short pamphlet about marriage and, unfortunately, divorce.  They want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

After that, turn in the application and all of your documents (so copies can be made) and they will prepare the license for you.  The license, by the way, is borrrrring.  It’s just a regular old form with “Application to Marry” typed across the top.  Very romantic.  If you want the elegant document you usually see in movies, it’s only about $5-10 extra.  Now would be the time to let them know, though.

It’s probably best to have the officiant sign the marriage license the night of the wedding but, if you’re like us, you may get too wrapped up in everything to think about it.  Our officiant was kind enough to meet up with us after the honeymoon and sign it.

Mail the license back to the Clerk of Court (sometimes, the officiant will do this) and wait to get the marriage certificate back.

For Escambia County, Florida:

Clerk of Court’s website: http://www.escambiaclerk.com/clerk/coc_marriage.aspx

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm

M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building (Marriage Division, Second Floor)
190 W. Government Street
Pensacola, FL 32502

Century Division
Billy G. Ward Century Courthouse
7500 N. Century Boulevard (Hwy 29)
Century, FL 32535


A few weeks after we sent the marriage license back to the Clerk of Court, we received a copy back that had the official seal stamped on it.  Great, but where was the marriage certificate?  We waited a few weeks longer and then I finally called.  Come to find out, that was it!  The application, license, and certificate are all the same (unless, again, you opted for the fancy certificate – see note about this above).  The official certificate says “Application to Marry” across the top.


This is another process that is very simple…once you know what to do.

I saw tons of scammy companies that charge outrageous fees to change your name but, really, all they do is send you the same documents you would have to fill out anyway and then send those in for you.

So here’s the easy (and cheap) way to do it:

Social Security

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT pay for a new social security card.  If you are paying a fee, you’re being scammed.

I sent this application (page 5), our marriage certificate, my social security card, and my passport to my local Social Security office and received all documents and my new card back in just a few weeks.  Easy peasy.  If you are not comfortable mailing these documents, you can drop them by the office as well.  If you’re really feeling up for it, you can wait IN the office for 3 days (not an exaggeration) until your number is called.

If you do not have all of the documents listed above, take a look at the first few pages of the application PDF for acceptable alternatives.

For Escambia County, Florida:

Local Social Security Office website: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/ic001.do#officeResults

U.S. Social Security Administration
411 W. Garden Street
Pensacola, FL 32502

Driver’s License

Do yourself a favor and make an appointment with the Tax Collector’s Office here.  You will save yourself time and frustration. You will not be able to change your name on your license online.

Make sure to bring the following to your appointment:

  • One (1) form of identification (NOT your current driver’s license)
  • Your social security card (the new one)
  • Two (2) documents that list your residential address (utility bill, vehicle registration, etc.)

The rest is pretty easy.  They update your information, you pay around $30-35, you take a new photo, and they print your new license on the spot.

For Escambia County, Florida:

Escambia County Tax Collector’s website: http://escambiataxcollector.com/

And that’s it!  You are now officially official.  If I’ve missed anything, feel free to comment below.

Friday Five 09.01.17<<

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