How to Get Married in the US as a Foreign Citizen in 6 Steps! 🇬🇧🇪🇺

Getting married is a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can be a bit more complicated if you are a foreign citizen looking to get married in the United States. However, with the right information and preparation, the process can be manageable and stress-free. Let’s outline the steps you need to take to get married in the United States as a foreign citizen.

1. Check the legal requirements in the state where you want to get married

The requirements for how to get married in the U.S. as a foreigner vary by state, so it is essential to check the legal requirements in the state where you want to get married. Some states have residency requirements, which means that you must be a resident of the state for a certain period before getting married. Others may require specific documentation, such as a visa or passport. Don’t forget that many states have waiting periods between the time you apply for your marriage license and when you can use it. It is essential to research the specific requirements for the state where you want to get married to avoid any issues.

2. Obtain a marriage license

Once you have determined the legal requirements to get married in the United States as a foreign citizen, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license. This is a legal document that allows you to get married, and it must be obtained before the wedding ceremony. The requirements for obtaining a marriage license will vary by state, but typically, you will need to provide identification, such as a passport or visa, and proof of age. You may also need to provide proof of divorce or the death of a previous spouse if you have been married before.

What does a foreigner need to marry a U.S. citizen?

Foreigners who want to marry a U.S. citizen must obtain a fiancé visa, also known as a K-1 visa. This visa allows the foreign fiancé to enter the United States for a period of 90 days (during which they must marry).

To obtain a K-1 visa, the couple must first file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must prove that you have a bona fide relationship and intend to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé’s arrival in the United States.

Once the petition is approved by USCIS, the foreign fiancé will be required to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. During the interview, they will be asked questions to confirm the validity of their relationship and their intention to marry.

Here is a link to the USCIS website with resources for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens.

if you marry someone from another country are they automatically a citizen?

No, marrying someone from another country does not automatically make them a citizen of the United States. In order for a foreign spouse to become a citizen, they must go through a process of obtaining legal permanent residency, commonly known as a green card, and then apply for naturalization.

Okay back to how to get married in the United States as a foreign citizen…

3. Find an officiant/photographer

An officiant is the person who will perform your wedding ceremony. It can be a religious leader, a judge, or someone ordained by a church. But if you’re eloping, an elopement photography specialist will have officiant recommendations and will be able to guide you through your planning process. If you’re eloping, your photographer will also likely have recommendations for other vendors.


Personal Client Portal

Your own personal, customized, and password-protected client portal with access to resources, invoices, our emails, and more!

Vendor Hub

You’ll get a customized list of vendors that are handpicked especially for your location and needs.

I don’t book vendors for you, because I firmly believe you should hire people you connect with, and a bundled package doesn’t allow for that!


If you’re really wanting an intimate setting with as few additional people to coordinate as possible or if you consider yourself shy, I am ordained and able to casually officiate elopements of a maximum of 2 guests (this is included in every collection!).

What does this mean? An uber-casual ceremony while I photograph as you read vows, exchange tokens/rings, and then pronounce you married. None of that “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together…” fluff.

Your own park ranger

Okay, I’m not a park ranger anymore, but I used to be! I’ll be sharing info about the local surroundings based on my geological sciences education and my time as a park ranger and naturalist on a whale-watching vessel. It’s a great way to experience the area on a whole other level. Have any knowledge to share yourself?! I’m all ears!

Location Matching

Want mountains but ALSO water? Prefer the arid desert? Know a general location but not specific spots to explore? Need help with PERMITS? I’ve got you covered. We dive into what you’re wanting out of a backdrop and I’ll send over a complete list of locations that are gorgeous and off the beaten path away from crowds.

Planning Assistance

While I (and most other elopement photographers) am not a full-service planner, you can still consider me a “planning consultant” of sorts!

  • Vetted location recommendations and stats on each
  • Getting to Know You Questionnaire and Zoom calls
  • Marriage license resources
  • Permitting information

Day-of Timeline

You’ll receive a timeline questionnaire in your client portal that covers important details like a first look, getting ready coverage, locations that are “must-see”s and more.

From there, I’ll craft the perfect timeline that’s structured, but still leaves room for spontaneity and adventure! A timeline ensures we make the most out of the day, without going overboard!

Heirloom Album

Embrace nostalgia and relive your day through touch, sight, and smell with an heirloom album.

Your collection includes an album credit that we’ll use to design your perfect coffee table book album!

Hi-Res Images

All collections come with hi-res images for you to download, print, and share for personal use! If you’re wanting high-quality heirloom prints from a professional lab, your gallery has a store option.

Travel Included

The collection you choose includes things like my airfare, lodging, and rental car to anywhere I can get with 2WD. That way if you switch up your ceremony location by several miles, it’s all covered!

The only thing that wouldn’t be covered would be if you want to do something extra, like a helicopter ride or dogsled or offroading and I need a seat/vehicle!


The ability to add on hours at the last minute when you want them is handy, but you’re also able to add on the following to each of your collections (though some already come with these!)…


A GIF of anything from you twirling, to your first look, to your first kiss – we’ll pick a moment and I’ll transform it into a GIF!

TikTok/Reel for social media

Done on iPhone, this is a casual organic-feeling social media video anywhere from 30-60 seconds long, focusing on you, your story, and the backdrop.

4. Plan the wedding ceremony – get married in the united states as a foreign citizen!

Once you’ve established how you’ll be doing the paperwork side of things, it’s time to plan your adventure! Most adventure elopement photographers provide some assistance when it comes to planning and logistics. If you’re having more of a traditional wedding, a full-service wedding planner will be your best route unless you’re confident you can organize things yourself from overseas.

peering through frozen waterfall at an elopement couple dress in black in Alaska

Things to plan for your destination wedding:

  • Venue
  • Marriage License
  • Lodging
  • Travel
  • Activities/Tours
  • Vendors

5. Apply for a marriage-based green card (optional)

If you are planning to stay in the United States after getting married, you may want to apply for a marriage-based green card. This will allow you to live and work in the United States as a permanent resident. The application process can be lengthy and complicated, so it is essential to research the requirements and seek professional advice if necessary.

glacier walk elopement in Alaska

6. Register your marriage back in your home country 🇪🇺🇮🇪🇬🇧🇦🇺🇬🇷🇯🇵

If you have been married in the United States and want to register your marriage in your home country, there are a few steps you need to follow. For example, here is a step-by-step guide on how to register your United States marriage in the United Kingdom (and the Australian differences, since I’ve had couples from Australia):

  1. Obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate

The first step is to obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the state where you were married. You can obtain this certificate by contacting the relevant state authority, such as the Department of Vital Records or the County Clerk’s office. The certified copy should show the details of your marriage, such as the date, location, and the names of the spouses.

  1. Get the certificate legalized (“apostilled” in Australia)

Once you have obtained a certified copy of your marriage certificate, you will need to get it legalized. The certificate needs to be authenticated by the relevant authority in the state where you were married. This is usually the Secretary of State’s office (here’s the link for Oregon, for example) or the Department of State. The process of legalization may involve paying a fee and sending the certificate to the relevant authority.

  1. Submit the certificate to the General Register Office (GRO) in the UK (Australian Consulate in Australia)

Once you have obtained a certified and legalized copy of your marriage certificate, you can submit it to the General Register Office (GRO) in the UK. The GRO is responsible for registering all marriages that occur outside of England and Wales. You will need to send the certified copy of your marriage certificate, along with a completed application form and a fee, to the GRO. You can find the application form on the GRO website.

  1. Receive your marriage certificate

Once the GRO receives your application, they will process it and register your marriage in the UK. You will receive a marriage certificate from the GRO, which is a legal document that proves your marriage is recognized in the UK.

Getting married in the United States as a foreign citizen can be just a bit more complicated than getting married as a US citizen (and that complication typically is when you’re back home registering it). But with the right information and preparation, it can be a manageable and stress-free experience! By following these steps, you can ensure that your wedding ceremony is legal and enjoyable, and that you are prepared for your future together in the United States.

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