Genealogy Basics: Marriage Research Advice for Beginners

Marriage records are one of the three main types of vital records you need to have in your genealogy collection (birth and death records being the other two). These records tell you the pertinent details of the three most genealogically pertinent events in any given ancestor’s life. Depending on the type of record and the state, county, or town you get it from, these records can tell you not only when and where an event took place, but names of other relatives (such as parents), the age of your ancestor, the name of their spouse, whether they were married more than once, and so much more.
Discovering marriage records can help fill in the blanks in an ancestor’s life. Maybe you didn’t know the name of their spouse. Perhaps they got married somewhere unexpected and romantic (like Las Vegas or Niagara Falls), which tells a more complete story of their personality and relationship with their spouse. The marriage record could even let you know if your ancestors were expecting a child before they got married… just count the number of months from the date of their marriage to the birth of their child!
It’s not always a simple process to get marriage records, either. While many of them can be obtained by writing to the department of vital records for the state where the marriage took place, others are too old to be included there. To find these records, you’ll have to get creative. Here are some of the basics for finding marriage records, wherever they may be...