I was watching an old episode of How I Met Your Mother last night and the story revolved around Marshall and Lily eloping to Atlantic City. They just decided that morning that they wanted to get married immediately and rush off to AC to say, “I do.”
When they got to the wedding chapel they were asked to present a marriage license, which they didn’t have. The clerk at the chapel (not the court) explained that Atlantic City is not Las Vegas and to get married anywhere in the state of New Jersey you need to apply for a marriage license at a courthouse. And in addition to the license there is a waiting period, so you can’t get a license and married in the same day.
It’s very important to find out in advance of your wedding – months and weeks, and not days before – what the license requirements are in the state you are getting married in. Every state in the United States has its own laws and policies and you need to get a license in the state you are getting married in, not the state you live in. This is very important to remember!
And if you are having a destination wedding you have to follow the marriage license laws in the country you are getting married in. Some countries have waiting periods and/or residency requirements. If either are more than a few days you may want to consider a civil ceremony in your hometown before you leave or when you get back.