How To Get Legally Married in Iowa

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld that forbidding same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.


Brigg McDonald and Olympic wrestler Stephany Lee married in Iowa on April 23, 2012.

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld that forbidding same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. In what we hope to be sooner rather than later, the understanding that marriage is a human right, not a heterosexual privilege, will hopefully spread even more westward into the great plains of the United States. Until that impending day arrives, Iowa represents the midlands. Here are some helpful answers to questions you may have about getting married in Iowa.

Do I have to live in Iowa to get married there?

No. Any couple can get married as long as other qualifications are met.

Where can I apply for a marriage license?

You will need to go to the county office for an application, although if one partner cannot be present at the Recorder’s office, the absent party can sign the license before a Notary of the Public and mail the paperwork to the office.

Is a blood test required?

No blood tests are required.

Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?

There is a three-day waiting period.

How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?

Three days; you will need to wait until the application is approved.

Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?

Yes, the state requires at least one witness.

How much is the marriage license application fee?

The fee varies, so specific information can be gathered from the county where you will be applying. The minimum in Iowa is usually $30.

How long is the marriage license valid for?

The license is valid for 6 months after application acceptance.

Can I apply online for a marriage license?

Yes. You can also call the county records office and request for the license application to be mailed to your home address.

What paperwork is required when I apply for my marriage license?

A photo identification and your social security card are required for each partner.

Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?

An ordained and licensed clergyman or justice of the peace is required to officiate your ceremony for the marriage to be legally recognized.

If I don’t live in Iowa, will my marriage be recognized in my home state?
The marriage will be respected in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington State and Washington, D.C. In New Jersey and Illinois, the marriage will be respected as a civil union, and in Nevada, the marriage will be seen as a domestic partnership.

Is my Iowa gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Yes, it is!

If I get legally married in Iowa, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?

Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond the state of Iowa, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized. Read our expert advice on how to legally protect your relationship and children.

Is a divorce decree required?

Yes. A divorce must be final at the time of marriage application, and the papers must be included in the application. A signed copy of the decree is mandatory if the divorced happened within 60 days.

How do I change my name?

For Iowa residents, to legally change your name, you will have to fill out the name-change forms, which can be found online, before or after the ceremony. It is recommended the documentation is completed before the wedding. If you live out of state, and in a state where your marriage is not legally recognized, it’s much harder and will, in most cases, require a judge’s order. Read our editor-in-chief’s account of what it was like taking her partner’s last name in Georgia.

*Find Gay-Friendly Wedding Vendors in Iowa

*How to Get Married in Washington State

*How to Get Married in Maine

*How to Get Married in Maryland

* How to Get Married in New York 


Photo: Sharda and Anna’s Real Wedding, Photography by Ron Soliman Photojournalism 

Allie Barnes



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