In the US, marriage records are typically classified as public records, which means that they are usually available for review if you know where to look for them. Finding marriage records online is certainly possible – but there’s often a catch.
Each state – usually at the county or city level – records various pieces of data to do with the population and activities in their jurisdiction. These points of data are known as vital records, which includes marriage records. Marriage records are typically housed with the county clerk or recorder’s office based on where a marriage license was issued.
One challenge this presents is that the marriage ceremony might sometimes take place in a different location than the place where a license was issued. For example, some couples may choose to have a civil marriage (i.e. in a courthouse) and then later solemnize the marriage in a church in a completely different county – or even a different state.
This can be further complicated by the requirements for requesting marriage records. Many require the full name of both parties (including maiden name, where applicable) as well as the date of the marriage. If you don’t have this information available, it is sometimes possible request research to be done based on any information you do have, but this is usually something that has to be done in person (rather than online) – and often comes at an additional cost.
Yes – despite most marriage records being classified as public records, they are almost always only available for a fee. Many states also require you to submit your own personal information – sometimes accompanied by a photo ID – in order to complete an order. Getting results back can also take weeks as most records are hand researched and mailed, even if the order is placed online.
Given the challenges associated with trying to find marriage records online using the official city, county or even state channels (when available) – as well as the cost, time-frame, and lack of anonymity – many opt to use an online public records search company. With just a name and last know state of residence (you don’t even have to know the state where a marriage took place), these companies will instantly search and pull all available public records – including marriage records. For less than what you’d typically pay for just one marriage record (around $10), you’ll receive all marriage records on file for a person – along with divorce records, criminal records and much more. You can even try a free below with preview results to see if there’s information available:
So, if your local county or city courthouse searches come up empty – or don’t offer online searching – it might be worth giving a public records search company a try to see what they uncover.