How To Get a Marriage License

     You are almost done planning the wedding and you're coming down the home stretch but the most unknown/scary part of the process can easily be something as easy as the marriage license. 

     We gotta make this thing legal and - turns out - getting a marriage license can be way easier than it sounds. 

Where do I even get a marriage license?

     Court. But not just any court. You'll want to go in the county you're getting married in, and you need to find Probate Court. So, for example, if I'm getting married in Bibb County, I need to Google "Bibb County Probate Court Marriage License" and the first thing that comes up will probably be the web page with the max amount of helpful info, like where in the courthouse you need to go and what you need to bring with you. 

Does it cost money?


Probably less than $100. It's different in every county.

Can I get a discount?


     Good news! If you did premarital counseling you can usually get a 60-70$ discount! How do you do that? Find that probate court website I mentioned in the paragraph above and look for the SPECIFIC FORM you need to print and fill out ahead of time. Sometimes they require you to get that form notarized, so read carefully. 

Do we both need to go to get our marriage license?

     Yes they are going to need forms of identification from both of you, so again, read that probate court website ahead of time.

Also - selfie or it didn't happen!

How should I get my ish together ahead of time...?

Things you will *probably* need:

+ Each other
+ Cash
+ Notarized premarital counseling completion form (if applicable)
+ A little time (sometimes you have to wait a few minutes but not always)
+ Two forms of ID. Just grab that file folder with your birth certif/passport/old highschool ID in it. You probably won't need all that, but can't be too prepared, right? It's like going to the DMV just bring a DNA sample and mail from every residence you've lived in. Kidding. 

     You can find a specific list of what you'll need to bring on your county's Probate court website. And let me apologize in advance for the lack of user-friendliness on most government sites. 

Who signs the marriage license?

     Once you have it in hand, just keep it until after your ceremony. If you have a wedding coordinator - even better! Give it to her at the wedding rehearsal. After the ceremony, your officiant needs to sign it. Bride and groom do NOT need to sign it, just your officiant. 

Once we say "I Do"... is that it?


     Once it's signed by the officiant it needs to be MAILED back to the courthouse. You have to complete that loop by mailing it in and saying, "Hey, courthouse, we got married, can you make this official?" 

     So then they make it official and mail you back a completed copy of the official document. 

     Fun, right? 

    From me and my official other-half to you and your almost-married selves, happy licensing. 



Elena Balkcom

Photo Credit: Britt Croft, Lauren Carnes

One Secret Every Bride Has + A Guest's Critical Choice

I'm 26 and I'm just now figuring it out. I'm figuring out what brides and grooms REALLY want from guests, and turns out, it's not expensive.

You know that feeling. 



An invitation in the mail, another weekend committed. Scrolling through the registry, fingers crossed for an item that costs less than 40 dollars and PLEASE JESUS let there be free shipping because ANOTHER PRESENT...

It feels like it's always someone else's turn to get celebrated, doesn't it?

Wedding, Birthday, Baby, new house, graduation...this is the part of #adulting I did NOT anticipate being SO DIFFICULT. 

And when it's YOUR turn to get celebrated you feel a little guilty because you're desperate for your guests/family/friends not to feel the above, so - is it avoidable?!

Fast Fact: Brides + Grooms spend an average of $30,000 on a wedding of 150 guests in normal little towns and guess what percentage of that goes towards the guests? Something like 70%.
That’s $21,000.


We're terrified

our guests are going to feel like that.

The problem:

Celebrating others can be exhausting, and when it's our turn, we feel guilty. 

The solution:'s way easier than I thought. 




with those who rejoice."

(Ashton Staniszewski Photography)
Romans 12:15

Celebrating someone else has taken on a whole new meaning since I've watched over 4,000 wedding guests make their way through wedding celebration days. 

We've changed the definition of truly celebrating someone. 

We've made it into showing up in a new dress, taking full advantage of the open buffet, lighting a sparkler and going home. 

Me. I've made it that. 

I go home thinking, "Go me, I celebrated someone tonight."

But I've found a pearl and I think it's worth sharing. 

Celebrating others starts with thankfulness. 

Thankful for their life, their gifts, and whatever good is happening to them right now.

It's as easy as a word of encouragement. It's as easy as a phone call, listening to hear a heart rather than listening to respond. If I pause long enough to get really happy for that person, I'll have a different attitude towards the registry. In fact, I might choose something really meaningful because of it. I'll show up to the wedding with a different presence about me, and it WILL affect other guests (trust the wedding coordinator on this one - I've watched some 4-5,000 guests). 

The other amazing thing that happens, taking on the gladness of another person's heart, is that suddenly the food and the temperature don't matter as much.

*Grace on this though. #Goals to be so selfless, right?!*

Being fully joyful is an inside job. No amount of fancy buffet food can make guests excited enough to celebrate the couple. In fact, sometimes I think the opposite happens. I've celebrated the wedding food before.


Practice on the people at work. Your desk buddy had a good weekend? Ask more questions. Get happy about it on their behalf. 

Next Level Ish...

Peter Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality would call this an "I/Thou" relationship. An "I/it" relationship sees the people around you for what you can get out of them: affirmation, attention, a paycheck, etc. But an "I/Thou" relationship sees a person as our creator's handiwork. A vessel of life and light and experiences and gifts. I'm telling you, if you need a summer read...

On the Enneagram test I'm a 2. I am wired to feel other people's feelings and feel them deeply. I'm telling you - I'm built for celebrating others and this is still HARD for me, so let's all give each other some grace on this one, right? 

Who are You.jpg

And, hey...

I'm praying for you leading into wedding season that you will think hard about Romans 12:15 and unlock the joy and the fun that is available to you in empathetically celebrating. Get in their shoes, and dance for their thing.

Got anything to add?

Email me, I'd love to hear it.



10 Keys for a Bride Planning Her Own Wedding

Hey Girl. 

You're making it happen for you and your honey?

Prouda you, champ. 

Bet you thought I was gonna say "hire a planner, yo!" but I ain't about changing minds, I'm about helping brides, because suga, I was you. 

Here's 10 things you need to (HAVE TO) remember if you're planning your own wedding. 

Grab a pen. There's several lists involved ;) 



1. Make a Big-Picture list. 

What do I mean? I mean B A S I C. You want to wear a dress? Write "GOOGLE DRESS SHOPS". You want to feed your guests? Write "RESEARCH FOOD". Why am I suggesting you keep it simple and plain? Because if you write "BUY DRESS" or "BOOK CATERER" it could be months before you check that off.

I want you succeeding right off the bat. 

2. Call a recently married friend. 

Are you entitled to a 100% unique wedding that tells your unique love story


Do you need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to figuring out how to rent chairs for 150 people? 

Nah, baby. 

Call a pal that did this recently. Just say, "What do I need to know that you wish you'd known?"

3. Dream a little. 

I'm a logistics girl.

As wedding planner and coordinator I am ALL about getting my clients from A to B to Altar with no fluff in between. 

So this is me stepping outside of my usual checklist box and saying getcha booty on Pinterest. And do it in a smart way. You know that one Pin on your wedding board, look into it. Is it flowers? Discover what kind of stems they are so you can eventually tell your florist. Is it a dress? Find out what brand it is, and go try it on! This is where dreaming becomes planning, sweet bride. 


PC: We Do Photography

4. Don't order the extras yet. 

Okay I'm not being mean, but I need ya to focus. 

Don't order or buy anything under $100 for your wedding until you have booked the big guys: Photo, Catering, etc. In fact, I'd urge you to wait to do micro-shopping until the last 5 or 6 weeks of engagement. 

I'm looking at you, tempting Etsy purchase. 

5. Give church wedding a fair shake. 

Have you ever thought about the fact that churches have every single needed amenity to host a great wedding? I know outside seems more frothy and romantic, but when you're planning, don't write off your good ole home church. Chances are it will be (a) way cheaper (b) way easier and (c) you might be surprised by ways they can accommodate like paying for your pre-martial counseling! And the sanctuary will seem more romantic than a 95 degree field, y'all. 

Not a church girl? I gotcha. But it's definitely a worth-while place to investigate for one of the more sacred days of life.  

6. Stop over-thinking wedding party attire. 

You can read more about that here. 

It can be a black hole of time spent googling and it will leave you feeling discouraged. 

PC: Hannah Forsberg & Lauren Carnes

7. Make a list of people you want to honor and include. 

It will honestly help inform your planning decisions if you have a sticky note on your screen with the names of those people who helped raise you. You'll know exactly what you need to do to make each person feel loved, and after your wedding you'll be so glad you did. 

8. Learn the guest list secret

There is one. I will tell you EXACTLY how many guests you can expect. I have walked around plenty of weddings with a counting clicker and this math is right within 2 or 3 guests. 

You can expect

85% of in town guests


65% of out of town guests

You'll thank me later. 

9. Make a list of all the "norms"...

                        then cross some off

Just start jotting down things like...

Bouquet Toss
Wearing a veil
Waiting to see groom till altar
Cut Cake
First Dance
Something Blue

Write down every "wedding norm" you can think of, and then THINK ABOUT if that's something you want to include. If you do, great! I'm just here to remind you that your day is a very short amount of time, and I want you to spend it doing things that MEAN something to you, not things you feel like you SHOULD do, ya heard?

10. Do these First 5 Steps

I  already wrote down the first 5 things ANY bride needs to do FIRST, and exactly HOW to do them and it's FO FREE. So go get it, baby girl.



Feeling like you could use a little more guidance?

Girl I got you. 

I'd be happy to have a phone chat with you for $100 bucks if that'd be helpful.

Let's call it a clarity session. 

You can ask me anything, or I can give you a list of to-dos, and you'll be on your DIY-ing way!

Holler at ya girl right here: Call me, Beep me





PC: Heather Payne