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Marriage certificates represent one of the key primary sources for family information, typically being issued the same day as a marriage takes place. In some cases, religious-based marriage documents exist too, but the civil record of the marriage has always been required. Marriage certificates vary in content depending upon when and where the marriage took place, but usually they contain: bride’s and groom’s names, ages, places of birth or recent residences, and number of marriage. In some cases the documents will have the names of the bride and grooms’ parents, and address of residence after the wedding. These can be valuable clues for continuing family tree research.

Availability of marriage records in the United States varies, but most states began requiring them by the early 1900s. In many cases, such as Alabama, records are available as early as the 1810s. Accessing individual records can be difficult without knowing when a person married, what the groom’s name was, or the bride’s maiden name; therefore indexes to marriage records are essential in simplifying your search. Most indexes provide a year and certificate number, which allows you to easily access the source document.
Texas Marriages. Family Tree Legends Records Collection (Online Database). Pearl Street Software, 2004-2005.