Changes allow for marriage licenses to move forward

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ottawa County Clerk’s Office is making changes to marriage license applications so couples can move forward with their union despite large wedding celebrations being put on hold. 

Beginning Wednesday, couples can submit license materials by mail or online. Previously applications were suspended in response to the statewide shutdown. 

The only in-person appointments allowed were for emergencies, like needing to get on a spouse’s health care plan.

“There are emergency situations. We absolutely wanted to handle those right away,” Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck told News 8. “And our initial reaction was, and for the security of the documents, was to maintain what we’ve always done… When we began having these conversations quite honestly with people all across our community, frankly, I think my view on it changed and the view of our staff.”

Roebuck said they realized how important it was for couples to still apply for a license amid heartache and stress related to canceled celebrations because of the coronavirus.

“We don’t want to add to the burden of that so many people are going through right now, so we’re standing by willingly and wanting to work,” he added. 

News 8 reached out to Roebuck after Samantha Driesenga, a bride in the county was told she couldn’t apply for a license. 

“We lost so much with our wedding, our honeymoon and now this is kind of a kick in the gut again,” she explained Tuesday afternoon.

At the time, the county was in the process of implementing a mail-in option. Driesenga told News 8 Wednesday she is now able to file her application.

Kent and Montcalm counties are now relying on the alternative option as well during the shutdown. 

Other counties, like Calhoun and Allegan, are allowing couples to apply only if they secured a date to be married. 

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum sent News 8 the following statement:

“I am granting emergency appointments for the purpose of obtaining Marriage Licenses on a limited basis. To schedule an appointment, the Marriage License must first be applied for by the Ingham County resident online then an email is sent by the applicant to request an emergency appointment. Please keep in mind, Marriage Licenses are valid for 33 days from the date of application and are available three days after application.”

If your county is not included in the above information, you should reach out directly with questions.