4 Little Legalities of Marriage

4 Little Legalities of Marriage

The question has been popped, the invitations sent, and the dress bought—but what about all of the boring, legal stuff? Here are 4 little (but important) legal matters to consider when you tie the knot.


The Pre-Nup

Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to turn off the romance here. Pre-nups (formally, pre-nuptial agreements) aren’t just for the rich or pessimistic anymore. Talk to your fiancé about creating a pre-nup, or you can talk about a post-nup after you are married. A pre-nup will help protect you and your spouse should there be some problem with marriage in the future.

While this sounds like a “glass half empty” approach, here are a few situations that might cause you to call a lawyer: One (or both) of you

  • Own assets such as a house or stocks.
  • Owns all or part of a business.
  • Is expecting to receive an inheritance.
  • Is supporting the other through college.
  • Foresee a large increase in income.

If any of these situations apply to you, think about signing a pre-nup. It will not jinx your marriage, I promise. You can even create a “sunset provision,” which is basically an expiration date—if you last, let’s say, 10 years, then the pre-nup will be void. Some provisions you can include in an agreement are division of property, spousal support, provisions for specific ground of divorce (different results if you divorce because of infidelity versus just not getting along), treatment of future earnings, and the possession of assets. When drawing up the agreement, make sure you both have lawyers present and there is full disclosure between both parties.

The License

This part is pretty easy: you have to get a license to get married. Each state has slightly different rules regarding marriage licenses, but you will usually need two forms of identification and cash or check to pay a processing fee. Both the bride and groom need to be present. While it’s good to think ahead, don’t jump the gun too much on getting your license—most licenses will expire 30 to 60 days after issue. Also, some counties have exclusive licenses, meaning they can’t be used outside the county. So, check your county’s website to find more information on fees, expiration dates, and any other restrictions.

The Name Change

If you are going to opt for the tradition of taking your husband’s name, here are a few points to remember. (If you’re choosing to keep your name… just skip this section.) You need to change your name as soon as possible on all government and financial forms. This includes social security, bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license, and any other identification cards. Doing this right after your wedding will save you a lot of time and confusion when you mistakenly sign your married name on an account still laden with your maiden name (from personal experience: it’s not fun). Look at the websites or call the offices of your accounts and government agencies to find out the specific actions needed for each change. Most of these changes will require a copy of your marriage certificate (which should be mailed to you the week after your wedding, from the license-granting county) and identification.

The Policies

Hey, remember those insurance policies? You don’t want to be caught driving your husband’s car without your name on that magic slip of paper. Often, combing car insurance policies will save you money. There are some cases where you’ll want to keep them separate, though—if your hubby-to-be has a bad driving record (or maybe you do…), or if one of you has a pricy ride, keep the policies separate. After deciding on car insurance policies, check on any other policies you might have. If you have life insurance, it is customary to name your spouse as a beneficiary. Look into buying a family plan for medical insurance, an option which might be cheaper than two individual plans.

Okay, the boring stuff is over now. Just remember these 4 little legalities of marriage as you prepare to walk down the aisle, and there will be a lot less stress after the honeymoon bliss!

Author Byline:

Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests in law and marketing. She stays busy consulting for Lawyers in Barrie, socializing, hosting parties, decorating, and writing.

How to Be a Great Best Man

Standing next to your buddy on his wedding day is a great honor, and assuming the role of an even greater Best Man is probably weighing heavily on your mind. Generally speaking, grooms have it easier than brides; they just have to show up, right? Wrong. Keep the tips below in mind on your friend’s wedding day; it will make his trip to the altar much smoother.

Be the buffer. There are a number of loose ends in need of tying up on the wedding day: paying the caterer, making sure the DJ is set up, coordinating the groom’s arrival time with the bride’s, etc. Whenever possible, make sure all questions and concerns bypass the groom and go straight to you. The last thing he needs is a group of people coming at him with demands. Help him out by diffusing his stress level.

Keep track of the essentials. Little-known fact: the groom is usually responsible for the essential wedding day items. While the bride has her “something old, something new, etc.” the groom is in charge of bringing the big ticket items to the ceremony, like the wedding rings and the marriage license. Avoid a wedding catastrophe by making a list of “must haves” for the wedding day and keeping track of them. Everyone involved will thank you.

Provide a reality check. It is no secret that nerves run high in the hours before saying “I do.” If the groom is looking a little peaked, pull him aside and talk him through it. If he has stage fright, remind him that the bride is the only person he should be looking at. If he’s worried about stuttering through his vows, have him practice with you a few times to loosen up. Bottom line: keep him cool and collected until he is standing at the altar. The first sight of the bride will take him the rest of the way.

Keep the bride in mind. Yes, you are there to support your friend, but supporting your friend’s choice of mate is equally important. Be respectful of the bride by delivering her fiancé at his best. Don’t plan a wild bachelor party the night before the wedding – no one wants to see the groom hung-over. If you are running late on the wedding day, call the Maid of Honor and ask her to relay the info to the bride. A Best Man is someone who minimizes drama rather than facilitating it. Bring your A-game, let the bride and groom know they can count on you, and you’ll do just fine.

Pre-Wedding Mistakes to Avoid

As the wedding day draws closer, there are so many tasks to oversee and arrangements to make, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. Prevent wedding day disaster by avoiding these major pre-wedding mistakes:

1. Ignoring the Budget: As difficult and often annoying as it is to plan (and stick to) the wedding budget, it’s absolutely imperative. When you and your spouse start your new life as husband and wife, you don’t want to be buried under mounds of debt. There are a vast number of online resources, smart phone apps, and books/magazines that will help you compile a reasonable and specific budget. Take advantage of these resources to ensure that you can have the wedding of your dreams and still afford to eat afterwards.

2. Inviting Too Many Guests: The pressure to include more guests than you originally planned for can be significant, but you have to stand your ground. Be sure that you don’t invite more guests than you have the capacity to host at the wedding or reception site. Talk to the coordinators at both venues about the maximum number of guests each facility will hold and plan accordingly. Don’t assume that X amount of people will turn down the invitation. If all else fails, you can send out a second round of invitations to guests you’re on the fence about once you receive RSVPs from guests who can’t attend. Reception Seating Guide

3. Ordering Dresses Too Late: If you’re planning on having your wedding or bridesmaids dresses custom-made, you’ll need to leave at least six months for the designer to complete the task. If you’re purchasing from a bridal store, you’ll still need to allow time for the dresses to be ordered, shipped, and altered. Trash The Dress Store Your Dress

4. Forgetting To Book Hotel Rooms: If you have a large number of out-of-town guests joining you for the wedding, you need to reserve a block of hotel rooms in advance. It’s most convenient to have all wedding guests staying at 1-2 hotels, near the wedding site, for transportation. Although it can be challenging to estimate the number of guests that will be traveling in for the wedding, it’s imperative that you book the hotel rooms well in advance. Most hotels will give you a special rate for your guests and will allow you to cancel rooms within a few days/weeks of the ceremony. Be sure to include hotel information in the wedding invitation or save-the-date mailing.

5. Screwing Up The Marriage License: Every state and county has different laws and rules about marriage licenses so do your research ahead of time to ensure that your wedding will be legal. For example, in Illinois there is a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and marriage licenses are only good for 60 days from the date they’re issued. So make sure you plan to apply for your marriage license more than one day, but less than 61 days before your nuptials.

6. Trying a New Diet or Beauty Regimen: While you clearly want to look your best on your wedding day, go about it a healthy way. There’s nothing wrong with eating right and working out to drop some unwanted pounds, but don’t try any last-minute, extreme dieting plans before the wedding. And definitely steer clear of any new beauty regimens in the immediate days before the ceremony. Crazy diets and new beauty treatments can have adverse effects that can leave you looking splotchy, sunburned, sick, or broken out. Bridal Beauty Kit