Why Marriage Records?
Are they important for genealogy? YES!!!
Half of our direct ancestors were women. By finding the marriage records of these women we find their maiden names which leads to the names of their mothers and fathers, etc. Marriage records are one of the four vital records. Death records, birth records, and divorce records are also vital records or primary records which are so important for genealogy research.
Old Marriages: Included on a marriage license or certificate are the bride and groom's age, residences and occupations, parents names and residences. This information can be invaluable in finding more of your family tree as well as adding priceless insight into the lives of your ancestors.
Records of marriages consist of church banns, marriage bonds or contracts, as well as a formal license and certificate depending on the year and location the wedding took place and are usually kept by the church or county official responsible for records. These are called primary sources of genealogical information because the records were made at the time of the wedding or close to it by persons of authority. Other places to find marriage records are newspaper announcements of an engagement or ceremony, family bible records which keep track of family births, deaths, and marriages, as well as obituaries. Although these are not as reliable as a primary record, they offer some information that may be used to acquire a verified copy of the marriage.
Modern Marriages: GenWed can also help you find modern day or recent marriages in the United States. Most state/county pages have addresses and contact information for the agencies which handle marriage records today. In many states recent marriages are public records accessible by anyone.