From the Desk of Stacy M. Butterfield

Feb 15

[ARCHIVED] How to Get Married: 3 Steps to Tying the Knot in Polk County

The original item was published from January 26, 2022 10:11 AM to February 15, 2022 1:01 PM

graphic featuring a house, coins, an open notebook, a pen, and a set of keysYou’ve decided to tie the knot – congratulations! Planning a wedding and getting married is an exciting time for couples. It can also be one of the most stressful.

Studies have found that getting married is rated in the top 10 most stressful life events. Planning a wedding and preparing for a future together is time-consuming, and the details can feel overwhelming. If you’ve found yourself googling “how to get married”, you aren’t alone – and we can help you check off all the boxes needed to get married legally under Florida law.

Marriage in Florida is a three-part process:

  1. Applying for a marriage license with the Clerk of Courts
  2. Performing the marriage ceremony
  3. Recording the marriage license in the official county records with the Clerk’s office

The Polk County Clerk & Comptroller oversees the application and recording of marriage licenses in Polk County, and can also perform courthouse wedding ceremonies. Playing such a big role in your big day is a job we take seriously. That’s why our office is here to help you before, during, and after saying "I Do."

Step 1: Apply for a Marriage License

There are a lot of important details that go into planning a wedding and getting married. One of the most important details is applying for a marriage license at the Polk County Clerk’s office. 

If you’re planning a wedding, work full-time, or are just plain busy, a trip to the Clerk’s office to fill out the paperwork for a marriage license can seem like a chore. The Polk County Clerk’s office offers marriage applications online to save you time.

Jumpstart your marriage application process by filling out your application online. Once you submit your application, you have 90 days to appear in person to finalize it. When you’re getting married and planning a wedding it can feel like there’s never enough time. While Polk County Clerk’s office can’t give you more time, our online marriage applications help you do the next best thing—save time.

Finalize Your Marriage License in Lakeland, Winter Haven, or Bartow 

So, you applied for a marriage license online. Now what? Once you submit your application, you have 90 days to appear together in person to put the finishing touches on your marriage license application.

Don’t feel like driving to the courthouse in Bartow? No problem. The Clerk’s office has three convenient locations in Polk County. You can visit our Bartow, Lakeland, or Winter Haven locations to complete your marriage license. Call our office to schedule an appointment at the location that is most convenient for you when it’s time to finish the application you started online.

Pre-marital Counseling

Taking a pre-marital course or pre-marital counseling isn’t required, but it can help you save money. Showing proof of pre-marital counseling from an approved provider decreases the cost of applying for a marriage license and allows you to skip the mandatory three-day waiting period between applying for a license and getting married. We even have a list of approved pre-marital counselors available on our website!

Step 2: Get Married

While some have been planning their dream wedding since childhood, for others a stress-free wedding day is their idea of a fairytale. When it comes to your wedding, the Polk County Clerk’s office is here to make preparing for and experiencing your big day as stress-free and price-savvy as possible. We know that planning a wedding is stressful, but getting married can also be expensive. The average cost for a wedding reception in 2021 is roughly $22,500! If stressful planning and paying thousands of dollars isn’t what you have in mind for your big day, the Polk County Clerk’s office offers courthouse marriage ceremonies for just $30.

Valentine's Day Group Wedding

If you’re a romantic at heart, skip the stress and expenses and tie the knot on the most romantic day of the year! The Polk County Clerk’s annual Valentine’s Day Group Wedding is all of the frills with none of the fuss. We plan it all – from a romantic ceremony on the steps of the historic Polk County Courthouse to cake to share with your dearly beloved. Best of all? It’s free! As a tribute to true love, the Clerk waives the $30 marriage ceremony fee each year on Valentine’s Day. Less time and money spent planning your wedding means more time spent with your loved one and more money in your pocket. Learn more about the 2022 event in our wedding announcement.

Step 3: Record Your Marriage

After vows have been said and the last dance ends, your marriage license is returned by your officiant to the Clerk's office to be recorded in the county's official records. Once recorded, we'll mail a certified copy to you for your personal records. If you plan on changing your name, you’ll need the certified copy of your marriage record when you visit the social security office and to update your ID or passport.

But what if you misplace the copy we send? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us! The Polk County Clerk’s office can provide you with a new certified copy at any time. You can visit us in person or request certified copies of your marriage record online using our public record request application.

You can also view your marriage record online and print out uncertified copies for free using our official records online search tool.

Getting Married is Stressful – Let the Clerk’s Office help Make it Easier

It’s safe to say that getting married can be stressful no matter what, but the Polk County Clerk’s office works to help make the process a little easier. Call our office or visit our marriage page today to access the tools and services we provide that make getting a marriage license and getting married faster, easier, and more convenient.