Marriage can be conducted in either a civil or religious ceremony. A civil ceremony is conducted by a magistrate, who is the only civil officer authorized to perform marriages. A religious ceremony can be performed by a person in any particular religious group who is authorized to solemnize marriages. A marriage, whether conducted in a religious or civil ceremony, must have two witnesses.
Whether you are having a civil or religious ceremony, you must obtain a marriage license from the register of deeds of the county in which the marriage is to take place. The register of deeds issues the license only if the couple meets the legal requirements to marry.
A marriage license is valid for 60 days and the marriage ceremony itself can take place at any time within that 60 days. A marriage license is valid throughout North Carolina as long as it is returned to the register of deeds in the county in which it was first issued. It is a misdemeanor to obtain a marriage license by misrepresentation or false pretenses.
Certain marriages between a man and woman licensed and solemnized according to the law or mode of solemnization of an Indian tribe or nation recognized by our federal or state government will be recognized as a valid legal marriage without a marriage license issued by a register of deeds.
After the marriage, the person performing the marriage is required to give the newlyweds a marriage certificate. The marriage certificate contains the spouses names and addresses, the date of their marriage, the county that issued their marriage license and the date of the license was issued. The marriage certificate must be signed by the person performing the marriage and returned to the register of deeds in the same county that the marriage license was issued. The marriage certificate is the official record of the couple's marriage ceremony.