License and Registration, Please

Our original idea was to make a long, late afternoon of it. Do it just before the Labor Day holiday. We ould go, get it over and done, then enjoy a four-day weekend. A perfect plan. But alas, we were thwarted by the go-getter holiday habits of Fulton County — they closed at noon on Thursday.

So this was our second run. She took a day off from work and picked me up at the office for an early (and possibly extended) lunchbreak. Traffic was typical, but bearable, and before long we arrived at the North Annex. Conveniently, one does not have to venture all the way down to Pryor Street for every single fee or registration. We were greeted, or at least acknowledged, by a woman with perfect posture and this magnificent head-dress / scarf ensemble. “Marriage License?,” she asked. Yes. “Well, just take one of those clipboards there on the counter and someone will be right with you.” In the five hours since, the soundtrack of my memory has given this woman a pronounced Jamaican accent, but I’m pretty sure she was just local with a heightened sense of style.

The clipboard. If you’ve not completed an application for marriage license in Fulton County, let me recommend it as an interesting study in how some things remain as they’ve always been. Though Fulton County recently ranked 5th nationwide in digital acumen, the clipboard in question held a one-page application. Down the left side were questions. Across the top were two column headers: Bride & Groom. With me? Okay. The first few questions ask for name, address, phone number and what name will you be using post-matrimony. The next one asks, with a separate blank for either partner, if the applicants are related to one another. Should they ever receive an application with two distinct answers for this question, I would hope that the county would insist that the wedding party discuss this difference of “opinion” before pursuing the matter further.

With our clipboard completed and our family trees securely from different orchards, my darling and I were called into a cozily cramped office to seal the deal. After scanning the application with a practiced detachment, the clerk looks up and asks, “You got your IDs and your 3148?” I look at my fiancee with a confused question in my eyes. She looks back with a shrug across her brow. 3148? Did we miss a form somewhere? What the heck is a…?

“Your 31 dollars and 48 cents,” the clerk clarifies.

Oh. That. Yeah. We have that.

And so, we raised our right hands, said “Yes, ma’am,” got our change and walked away with a marriage license. Which started me wondering … This governmental hoop is one through which we hope to leap only once, but it took more time to drive to the courthouse than it did to actually acquire the paperwork. Conversely, the yearly trip to stand in line for tax and tag is one of the most dreaded timesinks in shared American experience. You could chalk it up to an unbalanced ratio of newlyweds to drivers, but I think it comes back to that clipboard. If I just had to write my name, my address and my confirmed lack of kinship to my automobile, I’d be in-and-out in no time.

2 Comments so far

  1. Laura (unregistered) on September 17th, 2004 @ 5:52 pm

    To add to the entertainment value of confirming you aren’t brother and sister, in Dekalb county the office where you get a marriage license is the same office where you get a gun license. Those are the only two functions in the office. And yes, you can get both (we asked).


  2. Jessica (unregistered) on September 19th, 2004 @ 6:02 pm

    Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials!

    So my question is — in Fulton County, can you marry your car? And after this week’s repairs, can I sue my car for alimony?



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