Jan 15 2012
Getting Married in Arizona

Last year Ashley and I were trying to figure out how we were going to get married.  We really just wanted to be married and didn’t want to make a big production of it.  Neither of us had the time or the desire to plan a big wedding, but of course there were people near and dear to us who didn’t want to see us run off to get married or just stop by the local courthouse one Friday afternoon.  So we made lists.  We made the small intimate wedding list – just local family and a couple very close friends.  Then we made the medium size list to include more family, the out-of-town variety, and more friends.  But as I’m sure those of you who have organized wedding know the medium size list has a way of morphing into the supersize list because it’s just impossible to figure out where to draw the line.  Mexico was the answer – we decided to break our mothers’ hearts and run away.

It isn’t easy to get married in Mexico we quickly discovered.  $800 to apply, blood tests that must be taken at a Mexican lab, and a minimum of 7 days spent in the country prior to the ceremony.  My guess is that there is probably a way around that for the rich and famous, but we didn’t have the time to pull it off.  We would need another plan.  We didn’t short ourselves the Mexico vacation, however, and figured taking our honeymoon prior to getting married was brilliant idea.

Then I believe that on June 9th of last year (a month or so after the honeymoon) Ashley and I decided a wedding didn’t have to be that complicated.  We could do it at home, we could plan it ourselves, and it wouldn’t cost a fortune.  9 days later we were married in our backyard with around 60 friends and family members.  It was perfect except that one of my sisters couldn’t come and bring her family on short notice.  We missed them.  The Reverend Colin T. Cotter mastered the ceremony.  The ink on his Universal Life Church minister card hadn’t dried yet.

I learned some interesting things about Arizona marriage law in those 9 days leading up to our wedding.  Did you know you can marry your first cousin in Arizona?  True story – but you have to be 65 years or older.  I think had I known that sooner I still would have chosen Ashley over holding out for a first cousin 27 years down the road.  Also the laws on who can officiate a wedding in Arizona are a bit foggy.  We had heard of people having friends or relatives officiate weddings but didn’t know how it all worked.  The law says the wedding official must be a licensed minister in some church.  Did that mean somebody could be ordained by the church of Dudeism and legally oversee a wedding?  We wanted to get married on our terms, but we also wanted to make sure it was legally binding.  Ashley sent an e-mail to the local office that would have the answer and they responded by phone.

We learned that in Arizona they don’t verify anything when they received the signed marriage license back in the mail.  As long as their are signatures on the lines for bride, groom, witness 1, witness 2, and wedding official then you are legally married once the document is filed.  You don’t need to have a wedding.  You don’t really need a licensed official.  Of course, we didn’t cheat the system.  For approximately $20 Colin did become a Universal Life minister.  Heck, he can even build a brick and mortar church if he wants.  I splurged and got him the wall certificate and wallet card.  Getting married in Tucson and looking for someone to oversee your wedding?  Colin is your man.  He is confident, well spoken, and showers most days.

I thought the funniest part about how we went about getting married was the actual visit downtown when we picked up our marriage license.  There would have to some red tape there right?  I mean how easy can it be to get the license?  WE DIDN’T HAVE TO SHOW I.D. to get our marriage license.  That’s right.  As soon as we left the office I turned to Ashley and said “Best practical joke ever – get two people married without them knowing.”  I mean how funny would that be if somebody went to get married and discovered they already were?  I actually did show my I.D. to the clerk who gave us our license, but only because I paid by credit card (yes – I’m old fashioned like that – marry me and we don’t go dutch – I picked up all $72).

So there you have it:  9 days of planning, one ordained brother, $72, a beautiful yet inexpensive wedding dress (Yes – she wore a dress!), some catered Greek food and we were married, and most importantly a life time to look forward to sharing with my bride . . . priceless.





    5 Responses
    • recovering after div


      I’m still recovering, and hoping for better luck next time around…

    • Tina @ Wedding Favor

      I hope to see the wedding details.

    • Congrats on your awesome, new marriage. Your new wife sounds like quite the catch. I hope you have grand adventures together!

      … Getting married is the EASY part. Changing your name and everything else is the tricky part. Based on my experiences in 2006, I put together the following tips for changing your name in Arizona (copy/pasted from my journal, with some minor updates):

      1- Change your name at the Social Security office first. Take the affidavit of marriage, not the marriage certificate. That’s the sealed piece of paper you signed when you two went to the Justice of the Peace/Courthouse and purchased a marriage license (~$50 in 2006). It takes 1-2 days (I forget) for them to get this changed in their system, which you have to wait before you go to the DMV. Your new SS card comes in the mail and you really don’t need it for the other steps.

      2- Visit the DMV and change your name on your license. Bring your marriage certificate!!! I don’t know why the DMV doesn’t take a Social Security card as a valid change of name– they want to see the marriage certificate because they like to see the actual document where your name was changed. I recommend going on a Thursday to the DMV… Thursdays are the best days to go, in my experience. New Licenses cost $4. (… or they did in 2006.)

      2B- If you’re going to the DMV and you want to change your name on your car title (costs $24… in 2006)… Bring your marriage certificate, driver’s license, official car title (if you go through a lender, you’ll need for them to give you the real car title), and if you’ve a lender you’ll need a notarized letter from your lender authorizing the name change. Your lender may require you to change your name on your driver’s license BEFORE they can give you this information… in which case, you will have to go to the DMV TWICE — make sure you have someone punch you in the face first, so the wait doesn’t seem so bad. I went to the DMV about 4 times before the jerks finally told me that’s what I needed. (You also need this same stuff if you’re removing someone from your car title.)

      2C- Oh, yeah… one other thing…

      If you’re changing your name on your car title and you have a loan on it, make sure when you change your name with your lender that they notify any companies that they may have contracted out to check to see if you have car insurance are notified of your name change… and make sure that if you’re required to have insurance for your loan that the name on your insurance gets changed and that the lender updates the name in their system that checks if you have insurance or not.

      So, yeah… save yourself some trouble and make sure you ask your lender to notify their insurance-checker-people that you’ve changed your name…. you’ll also probably have to change your name on the car title first… so when you go to get the car title from them, make sure they note that when they get the updated title they need to notify those people.

      3- Change your name at banks, credit unions, work whatever… bring your marriage certificate and driver’s license as they also like to see actual documentation of where and why your name is changing.

      4- If you have a health-care plan or dental plan you’re adding your spouse to (or they’re adding you), you typically have 30-days after your wedding day to make changes. After 30-days, it’s not considered a qualifying event and you have to wait until the next enrollment period (usually in January) to add him. (You may need the updated driver’s license for this!)

      5- Some utilities allow you to make a phone call to change your name and/or add your spouse to your account. Other utilities are a pain in the rear and require you to send photocopy of your marriage certificate and driver’s license as well as a copy of his driver’s license… If they tell you to mail that stuff in, call them back another day… you might get someone different who will let you do that stuff over the phone.

      Anyway, that’s the short version. Just make sure you go to the SS office first, then the DMV… and take the marriage certificate and driver’s license everywhere afterward. Don’t forget you need the affidavit of marriage when you go to the Social Security office. After that, your marriage certificate should work.

      Good luck!

    • I want to see a picture of the dress!

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