Most of the documents below are not proof that a marriage took place, only that a marriage was being planned. Just like today, there were many broken engagements.
- Marriage license: When the county receives a completed marriage license application form from an engaged couple along with the payment, then they will issue the couple a marriage license.
- Marriage return: When a marriage is performed by someone, such as a minister or justice of the peace, the marriage license is returned to the court. The marriage license is now called a “marriage return” and is recorded in the marriage register by the town or county clerk.
- Marriage banns: In a parish church an announcement is made to the general membership that two people intend to marry. This was usually done over three successive Sundays. This gave time for the congregation to let the clergy know if either person was not able to marry for any reason.
- Marriage intention: In New England, the Intention was treated much like the Banns. Only the Intention is published in the town meeting books prior to the marriage.
- Marriage bond: A prospective groom posts a bond in the county of the bride’s residence. The bond is bought as a surety that there is no reason the groom cannot marry.
With our United States: Vital Records course you will learn more about marriage records and how they will help you in your genealogy research.