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How to Search for Public Marriage Records in the USA
Marriage certificates are the official records of marriage in the United States. Typically considered public records, marriage certificates are kept on file in the courthouse of the city or county in which the marriage took place.
Each state in the union now keeps marriage records on file within the vital records office. These marriage records are usually available for a minimal fee and can sometimes be ordered online, but are always available by mail or in person.
Depending on the state, these official marriage vital records may be restricted to only the persons involved, unless the individual is deceased. You may be required to provide a legal reason and/or court orders to request marriage records for persons other than yourself.
If you are searching for marriage records for genealogy purposes, you may have to contact the county courthouses to find marriage certificates more than 75-100 years old.
Using Online Marriage Record Search Tools
Another Option for searching and locating marriage records is to use an online marriage record search database. These services compile data from all 50 states plus international data to provide comprehensive lookup tools.
In the upper right hand side of this page you will find a box where you can do a preliminary search with one of these providers. If your preliminary search is successful, you will normally pay a minimal fee to access the record or join an annual membership for unlimited searches.
This option is certainly a time saver if you need quick access to public marriage record data, but may be more expensive than going through the state vital records office.
Using a Private Investigator
Yet another option for researching marriage certificate record information is to use the services of a private investigator (also referred to as a private detective).
This is for sure the most expensive route to go for researching a person’s marriage history, but you are normally guaranteed to get successful results.
Services in your local area that provide these services will be the most expensive, often costing as much as $75-$100 per search. National companies such as Best People Search offer lesser expensive options at around $37 per search.
What Do You Need to Search for Marriage Public Record Data?
Of course, the more information you have, the better your chances of having a successful records search, but at minimum you need the name of either the bride or groom plus the state the marriage took place.
It also helps if you have the county or city the wedding happened in and an approximate date.
The very minimum though is a full name of either the groom or the bride (maiden name too) and their current address. This will get you started.