How to Marry Someone in Prison

August 3, 2022
6 min

It is hardly a typical ceremony to get married in front of bars, naked walls, and metal detectors. It’s probably much more difficult than picking out a wedding gown for your destination wedding.

Typically, the future spouse who is not incarcerated is in charge of all the legalities and arrangements linked to the prison wedding ceremony since it necessitates securing unique permissions and comprehensive knowledge of state laws.

This article will walk you through all the elements of having a jail wedding and any potential issues you may run into before starting on such a journey.

Can prisoners get married while serving time?

The majority of American prisons permit inmates to be married, so the answer is yes. Specific prisons and convicts are subject to certain limitations. You should get in touch with the prison where your loved one is being held to ask if weddings can be held there during inmate visitation hours.

Holy Bible with wedding rings

How much paperwork is involved in marrying someone in federal prison?

Most of the time, you will need to provide evidence that both you and your spouse are of legal marriageable age, and that you both reside in the state in which you wish to wed.Your partner can only sign the relevant forms if there are any, thus you must acquire all paperwork on their behalf.

The following documents are typically requested by jail officials:

  • Both parties' birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Copies of the current divorce judgments from prior unions

The required paperwork varies depending on the facility. While some require more paperwork than others, some have minimal requests.

How to find out if an inmate is eligible for marriage?

You can determine a prisoner's eligibility for marriage in a few different ways.

A prisoner may be permitted to get married if:

  1. The inmate is permitted to wed legally;
  2. The inmate is mentally competent;
  3. The intended spouse has formally expressed a desire to, usually in writing, marry the detainee, and
  4. The marriage poses no risk to the institution's security or peace, or to the broader public's security.

Things to consider before getting married to someone in prison

Before getting married to a prisoner, there are a few things you should think about.


Numerous factors need to be taken into account while deciding when to be married. Some of them involve having children or having financial benefits. When marrying a prisoner, it's crucial to consider the potential release date.

You and your partner will have to deal with the challenges of two major transitions at once if the release date is drawing near.

If the wedding will take place after the release, you and your partner can get used to the change at separate times.

Consider whether it would be a good idea to put off getting married until you and your potential husband have adjusted to release, regardless of the release date.

Prison Rules

Every prison has its own rules regarding marriage. Speak to the warden, chaplain, or other pertinent individual to learn the policies and procedures of the specific prison where your fiancé is serving time. Several policies include:

  • Marriage is forbidden for some convicts.
  • For some rituals, the chaplain of the prison must preside.
  • After the ceremony, many prisons may still prohibit conjugal visits.

Are there any restrictions regarding clothing when marrying an inmate?

The attire shouldn't depart from what is typically worn every day. However, keep in mind that the majority of jails and prisons forbid wearing apparel that might be mistaken for inmate garb because of its color or pattern, like military garb or orange, khaki, or green shirts or pants.

What are some challenges after marrying an inmate?

You'll need to be prepared to deal with the time apart from each other after getting married to an inmate. Conjugal visits are not always permitted, and married inmates are not given any additional privileges. So improve your communication, drop by frequently, and make sure you guys are anticipating the upcoming post release.

How to make the most of your relationship when your partner is incarcerated

Being in a relationship with someone who is in prison demands a lot of patience from both parties. Both sides must accept that a large percentage of the relationship will be conducted over the phone and through letters. Each person also has to put up with the opinions of both friends and strangers. Being aware of these ideas is one of the best ways to prepare yourself and your relationship for the difficult times that lie ahead. Things will always be challenging when you are apart from the person you love for such a long time.

 A long distance relationship

It might be helpful to think of your connection as one that is constantly remote. It should help you mentally adjust to your separation and make you more robust between visits.

Communication is key

Unfortunately, the fact is that you might not have much time for face-to-face interaction, you must use the communication channels you do have. You'll need to improve your writing skills and utilize phone calls as much as possible.

Be truthful and honest with one another

You'll both be experiencing a range of different feelings. You must therefore be open and truthful with one another on your personal situations and mental health. It can help you solve problems and make sure neither of you will be surprised when your relationship picks back up in the real world.

Prepare in advance for their release

Couples frequently experience their most challenging times in the first few days, weeks, or months following a partner's return from prison. As a result, having a plan in place for how to handle this period can greatly improve the chances that your connection will endure.

What does getting married in prison look like?

Starting your marriage behind bars eliminates a lot of traditional wedding components, including wedding cake, music, large wedding parties, and romantic photo sessions.

The officiant of choice and a few witnesses will be the only attendees of the ceremony. The witnesses are typically fellow inmates or those on the prisoner's approved visitation list, though they are not always required. There cannot be any friends or family in attendance.

What’s the process to marry an inmate on Courtly? 

Courtly can help you ease the process of marrying someone who’s incarcerated by eliminating some of the confusing paperwork. YouAlthough it may seem time-consuming and challenging, we at Courtly would be happy to help you complete the full process online and from any location. Plus, many prisons will not allow family or friends to be present at an in-person wedding. Getting married online allows you to get around that policy!  

First, verify your eligibility. Both applicants must be over the age of 18 and have not been granted a divorce recently.

Second, pick a time and date. Don't worry if you haven't decided on a date yet - you can skip this for later!

Third, create an account to begin your application. Most couples create an account and complete their application for a marriage license within 10 minutes.

Fourth, pay for your online wedding package. You'll be able to customize your ceremony according to your needs, including getting witnesses to meet the legal requirement.

couple having an online wedding ceremony

Last but not least, join a zoom call with your officiant and get married online while lounging in your house (or somewhere else with a dependable internet connection!). The actual ceremony should just take a few minutes.

Following your online marriage ceremony, you'll receive a digital copy of your US marriage certificate, followed by a physical copy within a few business days.


The process of getting married in prison presents a unique set of challenges. However, for many couples, it's a testament to the enduring power of love and commitment. While the procedures and regulations may vary from one institution to another, the bond formed within prison walls can be as strong as any other.

Courtly provides a convenient and streamlined online marriage experience tailored for partners in prison seeking a more hassle-free process. With Courtly, you can complete the entire marriage process from any location, eliminating the need for in-person visits and bureaucratic hurdles.

Gone are the days of dealing with tedious paperwork. With Courtly, you can enjoy a smooth and enjoyable online wedding experience. Simply create an account, upload your required documents, and choose the ceremony format, setting, and officiant that suits your needs. After completing the payment process, you'll receive an email confirmation, marking the start of your exciting journey.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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