A number of experts – as well as friends and family – will say that any marriage should not be entered into lightly. But for same-sex couples who live in states that don’t recognize marriage equality, the knot being tied is far more complicated than a Windsor.
For those same-sex couples who live outside an equality state and are committed to getting married, WiG maps out the details of where and how to get hitched.
Some general suggestions: Flowers, gowns and tuxedoes are optional, but don’t leave home without photo ID cards, birth certificates, credit cards, debit cards and cash – clerks absolutely want to know who you are and many will not accept personal checks.
Also, the minimum age for both partners generally is 18 years and blood tests apparently are passé.
Same-sex couples began marrying in December 2012 in Washington state, where they must wait three days after seeking a license to hold a ceremony. Licenses are issued at the county level, and the fee can vary, but it averages about $64.
Seattle from Milwaukee is about 1,980 miles via I-90. Round-trip airfare for two is $1,000.
While there, you can visit the Central Public Library and Pikes Place Market, ride the Space Needle, take a ferry and sample the extraordinary vegetarian dishes at Sutra.
Couples marrying in California can apply for a license at the clerk’s office or recorder-registrar in any county. Both partners must go to the clerk’s office to complete the application. License fees vary by county, but most are around $100.
The wedding must take place in California, and there is no waiting period.
Considering San Francisco for a destination wedding? It is about 2,175 miles from Milwaukee via I-80; $900 for round-trip airfare for two.
What to do while there: Bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito, walk along Fisherman’s Wharf, shop in Union Square, dine at a sidewalk cafe in North Beach, take a photo atop Telegraph Hill, stroll through Chinatown, tour the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and visit a certain former camera store in the Castro.
Thinking about getting hitched in Iowa? Dubuque is about 170 miles from Milwaukee via U.S. 151, or airfare is $900 round-trip for two.
Applications for a marriage license, which costs about $35, generally are accepted Monday to Friday during regular business hours at clerk’s offices. A witness who knows the couple at the time the application is filed must be available.
The ceremony must take place in Iowa, and there is a three-day waiting period.
While there, run the bases at the Field of Dreams, tour the National Farm Toy Museum, test the slot machines at the Diamond Jo Casino, catch a show at the Mississippi Moon Bar, sample Uly’s Dark oatmeal stout at the Galena Brewery and brunch at the Black Horse Inn.
Same-sex couples can begin marrying in Minnesota on Aug. 1. St. Paul/Minneapolis is about 320 miles from Milwaukee via I-94; round-trip air for two is $500.
The regular license fee is about $115 unless the couple provides proof of “premarital education” to earn a discount. The license must be applied for at least five days before the wedding ceremony. The application can be completed online, but the license must be picked up in person and the ceremony must take place in the state.
Two witnesses, at least 16 years old, are required at the ceremony.
What to do while there? Drive along Summit Avenue, visit the Cathedral of St. Paul, stroll Grand Avenue, hike through Fort Snelling State Park and ride Cafesjian’s Carousel.
Couples go to the circuit court in the county where they want to hold their ceremony and apply for a license – which costs $35–$60. The process takes about 15 minutes. There is a 48-hour waiting period.
Maryland does not require witnesses for the ceremony.
Milwaukee to Baltimore is about 795 miles via I-90. Round-trip airfare for two runs $600.
While there, visit Fort McHenry National Monument and the National Aquarium, see the historic ships, walk around John Hopkins University, take the water taxi, dine in Little Italy and go for seafood at Thames Street Oyster House.
Same-sex couples began marrying July 1 in Delaware, where there’s a 96-hour waiting period for non-residents.
Licenses – $100 for non-residents – are issued by clerks of the peace at the county level.
Milwaukee to Wilmington is 840 miles via I-90. Round-trip airfare for two runs $2,000.
What to do there? Visit the Delaware Art Museum, dine at the World Cafe Live at the Queen, stroll the riverwalk and Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park and toast romance at the Eclipse Bistro.
District of Columbia
Gay couples began marrying in the capital in March 2010. To get married, go to the D.C. Superior Court Marriage Bureau in the courthouse on Indiana Avenue 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday to Friday and apply for the license. The fee is $35 for the license and $10 for the marriage certificate. There is a three-day waiting period, but officials suggest allowing for five days.
Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., is about 790 miles via I-90; round-trip airfare for two runs $500.
While there, walk around the National Mall, sit beside the reflecting pool, see the Vermeer at National Gallery of Art, visit your representatives, join in a protest or drum circle at DuPont Circle, have the Boeuf Bourguignon at Bistrot Du Coin.
The fee for a license is $35–$50, and couples must wait 24 hours before the wedding ceremony. New York requires a witness, who must be at least 18.
New York City is about 880 miles from Milwaukee via I-90/I-80. Round-trip tickets for two run $600.
Of course, there’s a lot to do in the Big Apple. Hit the must-sees if this is your first visit – the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Broadway, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Coney Island, Grand Central Station, the Stonewall Inn and Pizzeria Suprema just around the corner from Madison Square Garden.
The license costs $30–$35 and it may take the municipal clerk a day to prepare the license, but there is no official waiting period.
The state has no residency requirement, but out-of-state couples must hold the wedding ceremony in the town where they obtain their marriage license. Connecticut doesn’t require a witness.
To Bridgeport, Conn., from Milwaukee is about 1,010 miles via I-90. The round-trip airfare for two, flying into New York, is $600.
While there, you should visit the Barnum Museum, relax at Seaside Park and join the locals for Italian food at Mario The Baker.
Out-of-state couples marrying in Rhode Island must obtain their license from the clerk in the municipality where they plan to hold their ceremony.
At the clerk’s office, a couple needs to complete a work sheet, and the fee for a license is $24.
Couples need two witnesses at the ceremony and should know that justices of the peace cannot officiate at weddings.
There is no waiting period.
Milwaukee to Providence, R.I., is about 1,090 miles via I-90; round-trip airfare for two is $850.
While there, hike through Roger William Park and along the cobblestone Benefit Street, do dinner and a movie at the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe, hang with Brown University students on Thayer Street and dine at DePasquale Plaza.
Massachusetts was the first state in the nation where gay couples could marry. But out-of-state same-sex couples were prohibited from marrying in the commonwealth until 2008.
Couples need to complete a Notice of Intention of Marriage at a town hall and swear an oath. Couples must also complete paperwork that goes to the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. The fee for the license varies by municipality, from as little as $4 to as much as $50.
There is a three-day waiting period from when the couple files the notice with the clerk and when the wedding can be held. Witnesses are not required.
Milwaukee to Boston is 1,112 miles via I-80; round-trip airfare for two is $700.
There’s plenty to take up your time in Boston. Have cannoli in the North End, walk across the Boston Common, shop at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, visit Harvard, walk the red brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill, see the Impressionist paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, drive out to the Cape and feast at the Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Same-sex couples began marrying in January 2010 in New Hampshire, where licenses are issued by town or city clerks.
The Granite State does not have a residency requirement, but Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a regional LGBT civil rights group, says a 1979 statute complicates an already complex issue. The law says, “No marriage shall be contracted in this state by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this state in violation hereof shall be null and void.”
The license fee in New Hampshire is $45, and there is no waiting period.
Milwaukee to Portsmouth, N.H., is about 1,125 miles via I-90; round-trip airfare for two to Manchester runs $600.
While there, soak up some sun on the nation’s shortest coastline, catch an act at the Music Hall, tour the Strawberry Banke Museum on the waterfront and feast on lobster at the Dolphin Striker.
On Nov. 6, 2012, Maine became the first – and only – state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote. Out-of-state couples can apply for a marriage license at any town hall and have the marriage solemnized in any municipality in the state. There is no waiting period, and the license costs about $30.
Milwaukee to Portland, Maine, is 1,176 miles via I-90; round-trip airfare for two is $1,200.
In Maine, you’ll want to walk the streets of the Old Port District, have an espresso at Gorgeous Gelato, watch a Sea Dogs game, take a boat ride on Casco Bay, climb to the Portland Observatory, visit the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and relax at the Soakology Foot Sanctuary and Tea House.
In April 2009, Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process rather than the courts. The first same-sex couples married in the state in September 2009.
Couples apply for marriage licenses at town halls. The fee is $45 and there is no waiting period.
Milwaukee to Burlington, Vt., is about 1,000 miles via I-90; round-trip airfare for two is $1,000.
While there, tour the teddy bear company, breakfast at Logan’s of Vermont, snack at Ben & Jerry’s and Lake Champlain Chocolates, browse at Church Street Marketplace, bicycle through Leddy Park and hike Laraway Mountain.