Important note: I am not a lawyer and this is written from my own experience. Please do check with the County Clerk of Court before making travel plans, especially if it's been a while since September 2014 when this post was written. You can email most of them so it's easy to check out your plans.
You will need:
- Each of your passports
- Officiant certificates/ letter of good standing if you're taking your own minister
- $93.50 (£58)
Who can marry you?
In Florida, anybody can marry you so long as they are ordained by an official member of the clergy, notary public or justice of the peace. This sounds pretty complicated but what it means is they need to be an ordained member of a church. Yes, this includes the Universal Life Church, which is the famed online church where anybody can get ordained for free, regardless of your beliefs. Although we weren't asked for proof of our officiant's credentials, I would strongly recommend you buy a certificate of ordination or a letter of good standing, (which are $5- $20 (£4-£13) if you get ordained via the Universal Life Church) so you can prove your officiant's legitimacy if needed.
Where can you get married?
More or less anywhere. In Florida, it's the person who is licensed, rather than the venue. Of course, use your discretion and I recommend checking beforehand if you're marrying on somebody else's property, such as a theme park. However, I do have to be honest and confess that we married at Universal Studios without permission and everything was fine!
How do I get a marriage license?
To marry in Florida, you need a marriage license. This is really, really easy to obtain for two marrying UK citizens. Although you can apply online, we chose to go in person when we arrived. We headed to the Orange County Clerk on North Orange Avenue (don't let your driver drop you off at City Hall instead or you'll have to walk the nine blocks to the right place!).
When you get to the court, you will need to walk through a security screening similar to the airport. Your bags will be searched, and you're not allowed to take in aerosols or sharp objects, and you'll also have to walk through a metal detector.
Once you get through security, head to the Passports and Marriage Department. There are marriage license forms available next to the door (just ask a member of staff if you can't find them) and fill it out. You'll need to include your full name, date of birth, address and passport number. Once you've signed it, you'll be called over to a desk to complete the process.
At the desk, the member of staff will check all your details and your passports. You'll need to sign a declaration that all information is true and then raise your hand as you swear it's all correct to the best of your knowledge. Once you've paid $93.50 (£58), the staff member will provide you with your marriage license.
What is the marriage license?
Your marriage license will be an A4 sheet within a self addressed envelope, which will have your details on, as well as both of your signatures and the signature of the staff member who has issued the license. At the bottom is your certificate of marriage, which needs to be filled in after the ceremony.
Once you have your license, you can marry any time within 60 days. The ceremony is completely up to you. There are rumours that your ceremony must include the "do you?" "I do" section but I found no mention of this in the law guidance. We did it anyway as it's a key part of the ceremony but if you are dead set against it, check with the official when you apply for your marriage license. Witnesses are not required, although there is a space for them to sign the marriage certificate if you so wish.
After the wedding
Once the ceremony has taken place, the officiant needs to sign the wedding certificate in black ink. They also need to include the date and location of the marriage (this can be as simple as just naming the city) as well as their address. If you have chosen to have witnesses, they can sign the certificate too but don't need to include their name or address.
Once the certificate's all signed, just send it back to the court using the envelope they provided. You don't need to go back to the court or do anything other than pop the certificate in the post. When they receive it, they'll stamp it, sign it and send a copy to the home address you provided.
That's it! It's done. You don't need to register it back home, although the English registrar I spoke to suggested getting a few extra copies of your marriage certificate as they can be harder to obtain later. She explained that as long as your wedding is legal at the location you wed, it's legal in the UK.
It's that simple! I was amazed by how quick and easy the process was. If you have any questions, ask away and I'll do my best to answer. Although, as I said before, the best person to ask is the court themselves.