JEFFERSON COUNTY, WI–“When I got married for the second time, the ceremony was in front of a cliff,” regaled the deputy sheriff as a local couple passed through security on their way to the County Clerk’s office to apply for a marriage licence. “Interesting choice of venues,” observed the future groom.
Wisconsin Marriage License
After successfully producing the necessary documentation of birth, parentage, residence, social security and non-marital status, as well as a cash payment of $90, and then waiting the statutory five day cooling off period, a local couple was granted a license to marry by Jefferson County Clerk, Barbara A. Frank. “Our visit to the Jefferson County Courthouse was perfect,” the bride to be reminisced. “The County Clerk could not have been more pleasant or helpful,” she added. “Good omens,” noted the groom, “the clerk was cheerful and wished us well, and the deputy sheriff survived his leap of faith.”
The license was delivered by the United States Postal Service on Saturday, August 20th and remains valid until mid September. The couple will be married at St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Fort Atkinson on Saturday, August 27th at 4:00 p.m sharp by The Very Reverend Andrew Hanyzewski. A reception on the family farm will follow at 6:00 that evening.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, WI– “I just went to Vegas, hired an Elvis impersonator and a pink Cadillac convertible and did it,” advised the friend of a soon-to-be married local couple. Destination weddings in Las Vegas have been a cultural phenomenon for decades. That trend is more recent in South Eastern Wisconsin. Agritourism is growing and family farms like Busy Barns outside Fort Atkinson have reinvented themselves as educational, recreational, and nuptial ceremony destinations. So perhaps it is not surprising that the local couple opted to stay closer to home and make the family farm a destination to receive guests following the formal wedding ceremony at a church in town.
Jefferson County Court House
Clark County, Nevada need not worry about losing too much wedding business to Jefferson County, Wisconsin any time soon, however. For starters, couples intending to marry locally must comply with a statutory five day waiting period between application and issuance of marriage licenses. Divorced individuals must demonstrate patience by waiting six months from the date the divorce is final before applying for a marriage license. At $90, a locally obtained license is among the most expensive in the country (Indiana issues marriage licenses for $18). Payment must be made in cash. While clerks in many counties nationwide accept typical twentieth century forms of payment including personal checks, money orders and credit cards, Jefferson County, Wisconsin is steadfast in maintaining the rural nineteenth century cash payment tradition. And unlike the Jefferson Counties of Tennessee and Florida, Wisconsin’s Jefferson County has not subscribed to the recent fashion of granting substantial marriage license fee discounts to couples who have completed at least four hours of marriage counseling. In addition to government issued forms of identification from both bride and groom, the county clerk also requires “certified copies” of birth certificates, social security numbers, as well as the name and address of the officiant. In short, the state expects some advance planning from couples planning to spend their lives together.
The Midwestern common sense approach to regulating marriage arguably has virtue, despite being at odds with the demands of a growth industry. But even with less onerous marriage license requirements, pumpkin patches and corn mazes will have difficulty competing with the Las Vegas spectacle “of Harley bikes with the bride dressed as the groom and the groom dressed as the bride and the rest of the bikers falling off their bikes laughing, across from the Little White Wedding Chapel.”