Dispatches from the Marriage License Office


Collin and I applied for our marriage license yesterday.

The security guard at the City-County building immediately pegged us for what we were, saying, “Marriage licenses are second door on the left” right after I got through the metal detector. I kind of wanted to say, “But we’re here for pool tags!” just to mess with him. [And just to clarify that they don't say that to every young man and woman who walk in together, when my friend Josh and I went for pool tags, we didn't get asked if we were there for a marriage license. That would have been awkward.]

The waiting room of a marriage license office is a strange place, because you’re surrounded by other about-to-be-married couples, and its hard to not compare yourself to them.  “Do we look like siblings like those two over there?” “Is it sweet or is it gross that the two in the back look like they might bone in the first office they find unoccupied?”

The most disturbing part of this comparison was overhearing every other couple share their divorce records.  We were the only first-marriage couple there.  I mean, I know the statistics, but that really brought it home.

I also listened in on the couples in front of us being interviewed to make sure I knew all the answers.  Parents places of birth? Check. Parents middle names? Check. But wait… does COLLIN know this stuff about his parents? Probably not.

“Collin, do you know where your parents were born?”

“I’m pretty sure my mom was born in St. Louis. Well, maybe Jeff City.”  Hrm.  “And I think my dad was born in either Kansas City, Kansas or Lawrence.”

At this point I start frantically texting Collin’s family for firm answers.

Blessedly, his dad texted back before our number was up.  The real answer? Cleveland, Ohio.  CLEVELAND, OHIO.

The rest of our wait time was me basically giving Collin a Pennsylvania Family Law lesson.  “Why do we have to say if we have transmissible diseases?” “It takes the place of the blood test.” “Why was there a blood test?” “So you don’t accidentally marry someone with syphilis.” Collin would go on to ask the clerk the same question and get the same answer, and I guess it is fair to check with the professional, but I was a little miffed because I got an A- in Family Law even though I was in the hospital the day before and the day after the exam with generalized mastitis and you can Google that if you want to shudder or you can just take my word for it that I was NOT WELL AT THE TIME. That’s like my greatest accomplishment from law school, dudes.

ANYWAY.  When we did get called up for our interview, our clerk was just a doll.  I think working in a marriage license office must be a really happy job, especially for civil service.  When she asked our parents’ occupations (despite all my smartypants posturing above, I have no idea why that is on the application) and I said that my parents are deceased, she said, “Well I like to think that means their occupation is ‘Angel.’”

AWWWWW. Seriously. So sweet.  Can you imagine someone at the DMV being 1/100th that adorable?

And when I signed the paperwork before the clerk was finishing instructing me where to initial, she said, “Slow down, fast-y!” which made me laugh out loud, and then she APOLOGIZED even though I was clearly not even remotely offended.  Nicest. Government Employee. Ever!

The license will be ready on Thursday, which will bring on two weeks of dodging Collin’s attempts to sneak-attack me with marriage. I’ll explain that in a later post.



  1. That clerk is adorable!!!

    We got pegged for marriage license applicants, too, when we went to the courthouse last year. Though Jason and I both burst out laughing when we got to the registrar’s office because there was a large sign on the door that said “MARRIAGE LICENSE AND GUN PERMIT APPLICATIONS.” Oh, Georgia.

    I still remember emerging from the courthouse, blinking against the sunlight, and giddily realizing that the license meant we could get married now! Right this minute! And it’d be legal! :)

  2. I hope our clerk is this adorable! This almost makes me want to consider applying for her job (except, here in Seattle). It sounds like she’s able to really enjoy it.

  3. That’s awesome! And way cuter than our marriage license application story, which basically consisted of a black cloud developing over my head when I realized I had to decide for real what was happening with my last name then and there. So stressful! I remember the lady was nice, though, and patient with me and all my fretting. (Meanwhile, I’m still not sure about the name thing. Ah well.)

  4. “Long-Time” Lurker, first time commenting, and by “long time”, I mean under a week. I am also a Robin in the Pittsburgh area (more out near Greensburg–more like in between those two, but I usually say Greensburg since they show that area on the weather ;-) ) We are not even engaged yet, but planning the wedding anyway; because we are that confident that it’s going to happen.

    I can only hope that our marriage license process goes as nicely as yours does! That lady sounds ridiculously nice; it’s a good thing you don’t have weepy wedding fever yet and cry all over her. I would definitely need to have a notepad full of all of this information because I know Tony (the betrothed) would forget a lot (and so would I).

  5. That’s awesome, First Robin.

  6. so no problem with the self-uniting license??

    We apply for ours in three weeks and I’m getting so nervous about it. I just stumbled on this blog today and it’s really helped calm the nerves a bit.

    I’ll be applying in Allegheny county

  7. That is so sweet. When we got on the elevator at the courthouse, an older man in a asked us what floor we wanted, and when we told him, he said, “I knew it! I just figured you guys had to be getting off on floor 23.” LOL.

    I think we were the only people smiling in that whole building. I wouldn’t want to work at the courthouse unless I could just work on that floor.

    We had to swear that we weren’t closer than 2nd cousins, which was REALLY hard to do w/a straight face.

  8. You lucked out. We ended up with the pissy clerk who kept messing up our information over and over and over again on the forms.

    The majority of the couples applying with us that day were gay couples getting civil unions. Seriously we were outnumbered 4 to 1, but that made me feel a bit bubbly inside. The two 60-year-old men in front of us were adorable.

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