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How to Elope in Iowa

With its open landscape, featuring prairies and farmland, Iowa makes a great elopement destination for those looking for a rural escape.
Outline map of Iowa

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Why is Iowa great for an elopement?

Iowa is a Midwestern state, famous for its flat landscape. The spacious fields and open skies offer a sense of freedom and serenity, a perfect atmosphere for an elopement. The farmlands also offer a rustic beauty that you get with barn weddings.

With a landscape featuring tallgrass prairies, wetlands, and woodlands, the possibilities for an intimate ceremony with great photographs are many. Backdrops with secluded meadows and scenic river fronts make excellent photographs for you to treasure forever. The Loess Hills, in particular, can be a unique and picturesque location for a wedding, with its winding trails and panoramic views.

Iowa’s climate can feature extremes of heat and cold so it’s best to carefully choose when to marry there. Winter can be very cold, but perfect for winter-themed weddings (especially if you love snow!), whilst summer is generally hot and humid, but with plentiful rainfall. Early spring and late summer / early fall may be the best time to marry.

GETTING YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE

All states require a marriage license, so you need to ensure that you understand all of the requirements very early in the planning process. Luckily, it’s fairly straightforward in most cases as long as you meet the criteria and follow the state requirements.

Here is what you need to know about getting a marriage license in Iowa.

Is Same Sex Marriage Recognized?

Yes! Same sex marriage is recognized in all states, and at a federal level, under the Respect for Marriage Act which was signed into law in December 2022.

Will I Need to take a blood test?

No. Blood tests have been abolished as part of marriage license applications in all 50 states, so don’t worry if you’re afraid of needles!

Who Issues Marriage Licenses in Iowa?

Marriage licenses in Iowa are issued by the County Registrar.

Do I Need to be a Resident of Iowa?

You are not required to be a resident of Iowa to apply for a marriage license there.

Is there a waiting period to get married?

There is a waiting period of 3-5 days from receiving your marriage license to being able to perform your ceremony. The exact number of days varies by county, so you should check with the local authorities in the county that you plan to marry in. Waivers are available, but you will need to present a case to the County Registrar for why the waiting period should be waivered.

How long will my marriage license be valid for?

Marriage licenses issued in Iowa are valid for six months from the date that they were issued.

HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO GET MARRIED IN Iowa?

Couples must be 18 years or older to marry in Iowa without any further caveats. Those aged 16 or 17 may apply for a marriage license with the consent of a parent or guardian.

WILL I NEED TO TAKE ID?

All parties must present valid photo ID when submitting the application for a marriage license. Options include a passport or driver’s license.

HOW MUCH DOES A MARRIAGE LICENSE COST IN Iowa?

There is a fee of $35 for marriage licenses in Iowa.

On Your Wedding Day

Once you’ve gotten the admin out of the way, you can get to the part you’ve been dreaming of: the wedding ceremony!

As you’d expect, each state has different requirements to make a marriage legal. Make sure you follow the guide below to get your marriage legally recognized.

Will i need witnesses to the marriage?

Iowa has witness requirements for both the marriage license application, and the ceremony itself. When applying for a marriage license in Iowa, the couple must be joined by an adult who knows both parties, who signs the application form in the presence of a notary. The presence of two witnesses is required for the wedding ceremony, who will both have to sign the certificate of marriage form.

DOES Iowa REQUIRE AN OFFICIANT FOR A WEDDING?

An officiant is required to perform marriage ceremonies in Iowa. Those who can solemnize a marriage in Iowa include: an Iowa or Supreme Court judge, any ordained minister of a religious faith.

Those who are ordained through online ministries are able to solemnize marriages in Iowa, which is the method couples usually use when they would like a friend or relative to perform their wedding ceremony.

SUMMARY

So that’s it, everything you need to know about eloping in Iowa. And if you think that it could be the place to host your special day, why not give me a call to chat about your wedding? I’m an experienced elopement photographer, and an ordained minister, so in most cases I can be your officiant too!

Planning an Elopement?

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