Whether you’re putting together a small ceremony in the woods, or heading to the courthouse on a whim, you need to know how elope in Missouri. Legally.
The legal logistics aren’t as fun as everything else, sure, but here’s the good news: getting married in Missouri is actually super easy. Honestly, scary easy compared to most other states. I’ve broken down how to elope in Missouri into these simple steps:
Get your license.
Head to the most convenient Recorder of the Deeds office in your county of choice. To get a full list of Missouri counties and their office locations, hours, and fees, head over here.
What you need to bring:
- your person (YES! You BOTH need to be present to apply!)
- cash to pay the license fee
- proof of age (i.e. your birth certificate)
- a government issued photo ID (i.e. your driver’s license)
- your social security card
In Missouri, there are no blood tests or waiting periods required, so you can walk out with a license the very same day you apply! Your license is valid within the state of Missouri for a full 30 days after you receive it.
If you want to get married later, you can also opt to pick up your license at another time–up to six months later! That way it won’t expire before you get to use it.
*Note: What I’ve written above is true of MOST of Missouri, but some counties may have small differences in their rules. Look into the rules pertaining to the specific county you plan to get your license in to be safe.
From here, you can go two routes:
Option 1: Get married at the courthouse.
This option is best if you want to get legally married right away!
I’ve also had couples who have chosen to get married at the courthouse legally before their wedding or elopement day so they can get all the legalities out of the way. Or so they can be the real life Jim and Pam. Either way, it’s a great idea if you want to elope just the two of you, or if you plan to have a ceremony somewhere outside Missouri.
Anyway, here’s how it’s done!
Schedule an appointment with a judge.
This process will differ from courthouse to courthouse. Just google the name of the courthouse where you want to get married + wedding. From there, you should be able to find a webpage that explains the process.
In some courthouses you may need to personally call a judge of your choice to schedule, while at others you may be able to sign up for a time slot.
To get married at the courthouse, you’ll need to bring:
- Your witnesses. If you don’t want to bring your own witnesses, you can usually let the bailiffs know upon arrival and they’ll round a couple of people up for you!
- Other people. Yes! You can bring more than just your witnesses!
- Your marriage license.
- Your person. Obviously.
- A rad outfit. Not required by law, but ya know. It’s fun.
- A way to document, whether that’s a photographer or a polaroid camera.
Note: Don’t forget to show up at least 15 minutes before your designated ceremony time so you can check-in!
Option 2: Get married anywhere else.
Find an officiant.
In Missouri, an officiant is described as a member of the clergy in good standing with the church or a judge. There are plenty of officiants for hire if you don’t belong to a particular church or your pastor or priest is unable to attend.
You can also ask one of your friends or family members to officiate! To do so legally, they will have to become ordained. This process is super easy to do through Universal Life Church Monastery. I would definitely recommend choosing a responsible person to fulfill this role–they will be responsible for ensuring that your license is returned to the Recorder of the Deeds office within 15 days of the ceremony.
Find at least two witnesses.
If you Google “How to Marry in Missouri,” one of the first results to pop up says that Missouri does not require witnesses. That’s definitely not true! You need at least two, but the good news is that I count as one, so you only need one other one if you want to keep things small!
Again, if you really just want it to be me, you, and your person and the legal side of it isn’t as important to you, then you can just do all the legal stuff at the courthouse before!
Find a place to get married.
There are zero restrictions on where you have to get married for it to be legal, so long as it takes place within the state of Missouri. Want to get married on a beautiful cliff overlooking a lake? Go for it! Want to get married at Hong Kong Inn in Springfield, MO? Uhhh not my personal vibe, but hey, it’s your day. And it’s still legal. So you do you.
Do the thing.
What thing? Oh yeah! The ceremony! This part’s all fun and happiness!
Sign the license.
Make sure all the right signatures are in all the right places!
Return the license.
Have your officiant return the license to the Recorder of the Deeds’ office within 15 days.
You officially eloped in Missouri!
Champagne, cake, tacos, whatever sounds like a celebratory indulgence to you! You’re officially married in the eyes of the law! You did all the things, checked off all the boxes, and you’re officially wed because you know how to elope in Missouri. Now you just get to navigate remembering the names of each other’s relatives and figuring how the heck to change your name. Don’t worry. I’ll be writing something on that soon.
And PRO TIP: Don’t book plane tickets under your soon-to-be last name that isn’t legally your last name yet. My husband was so *adorably* excited to marry me *hair toss* that he made this mistake, and we *unadorably* encountered a few flight issues on our honeymoon. But hey! Everything’s an adventure when you’re in it together!
If “How to Elope in Missouri” was an informative yet fairly boring post to read, then don’t worry! I have plenty of other posts that go over all the fun parts of planning a Missouri elopement or intimate wedding here.