Also called a “certificate of marriage”, a marriage certificate is a written instrument generated by the state, and authorized by an officiant, that attests to the formation of a marriage. The certificate is usually signed by the spouses, officiator of the marriage, and several witnesses after the marriage ceremony. In most states, couples that have executed their marriage license and filed for a marriage certificate in county office can usually expect their certificate to arrive by mail within a couple of weeks.
A marriage certificate is no assurance that a marriage is legally valid, entered into with good faith, or ongoing; it is only evidence that, at some set time and date, a marriage was performed.
[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]