There are two ways to get married: traditionally, through the Church, or civilly, through the courts, a ceremony legally performed by a judge or Justice of the Peace. Both ceremonies hold much in common:
- Both require valid legal documents, a marriage license (required prior to the ceremony; conferred by the state in which the couple will marry) and a marriage certificate (proof of marriage filed by the officiant, a copy of which is sent to the couple after the ceremony).
- Both require that the couple be of an appropriate age (usually 18).
- Both require that neither person is currently married to someone else (what I affectionately call the “DUH” clause).
- Both require that each have the mental capacity to enter a contract.
- The parties cannot be blood relatives (though interestingly some states do allow first cousins to marry when they are past the age when children can be conceived….