Marriage in Iowa
On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that laws banning gay and lesbian couples the right to marry violated their constitutional right to equality. Several weeks later, gay and lesbian couples from Iowa or anywhere in the United States were able to legally marry in Iowa.
Any person 18 years or older may marry the person of their choice in Iowa. The first step is to apply for your marriage license. You can apply in person or through the mail for your license. (There is a $35 fee to apply for a marriage license in Winneshiek County and a 3-day waiting period after receiving your license before you can get married). The second step is to arrange for an officiant. You can get married by a court magistrate in the Courthouse at no cost when court is in session. You will need to speak directly with a court magistrate to arrange the ceremony. You can get the magistrate's number from the County Recorder's office. Any clergy person or justice of the peace may perform your ceremony (they do not need to be an Iowa resident). If you need help finding an officiant, check out our Officiant page. The third step is to plan your wedding. This website will give you all the tools you need to plan your own wedding in Decorah. If you wish to work with a wedding planner, please look at the "Other" tab for suggestions. Welcome in Decorah is not a business and does not offer wedding planning services.
More Info and License Application
- Iowa Marriage Instructions
- Iowa Marriage License Application (2013)
- Lambda Legal FAQ About Marriage in Iowa
You can also apply in person or request a marriage license application be mailed to you. To do this, contact the Winneshiek County Court Recorder’s office at 563-382-3486. The mailing address for the Winneshiek County Courthouse is: Attn: County Recorder, 201 W. Main St., Decorah, IA 52101
This website is independently run by volunteers. It is not sponsored by Winneshiek County or the state of Iowa.
PLEASE NOTE: Marriage between same-sex persons in Iowa is a legally binding contract. This is not a symbolic ceremony. Once finalized, you will be legally married. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, you will need to seek out legal help for your individual situation. Welcome in Decorah does not provide any information about divorce. We strongly suggest you review Lambda Legal's FAQ about marriage prior to marrying in Iowa. Divorce between same-sex couples is very ambiguous in the current U.S. legal system. You may also want to consult your own attorney to see how marriage would affect you. Your home state may not recognize your marriage and in some cases will not grant a divorce to same-sex couples. Iowa has a 12-month residency requirement for anyone wishing to file for divorce.
Please make sure you understand Iowa's marriage laws before you plan your wedding in Decorah. The material on this page is just an overview. Please click here for a document with extended information which you must read before applying for a marriage license. Winneshiek County is not the only place in iowa where you can get married (we just happen to think it's the loveliest!). Make sure you understand where we are located and understand the 3-day waiting period prior to making your wedding plans.
Support Marriage Equality
To support marriage equality and other LGBT rights efforts in Iowa, contact One Iowa, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender advocacy organization.