110 Years of Happy Couples: Michigan Marriages, 1839-1949
You need a license to drive a vehicle.
Without one, you could get a hefty fine.
You need a license to own a dog.
If you're discovered without one, you could get a hefty fine.
You need a license to be married.
If you're discovered living with your partner without a license.....nobody cares.
True, a legal piece of paper does not a happy marriage make...but it could make things easier around tax time...or around nosy relatives.
It's believed the practice of obtaining a marriage license to be legally wed in the United States began in Massachusetts in 1639....that's is this country. History tells us that the very first use of marriage licenses goes back to (what is now) England around the year 1100.
Early marriage licenses were more like 'contracts', more so a business transaction. They weren't contracts of two people in love – they were contracts between families that desired to join together and make their wealth grow.
Usually the groom knew what the transaction entailed, but most of the time the bride wasn't aware that the contract also meant an exchange between the families of cash, goods, and services. Oh, sure, the married couple was expected to procreate with numerous kids and make the family even bigger, more prosperous, and wealthier. Marrying for social and political status were also thrown into the mix.
At least all these centuries later, the marriage license has – for the most part – lost its greedy beginnings and is basically just a contract of legal wedded bliss between two people in love. The gallery below shows a few old marriage licenses and a bevy of Michigan brides & grooms going as far back as the 1800s!
Michigan Marriages: 1839-1949
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