Civil Marriage in Forsyth County
Civil Marriage is conducted by magistrates at the Forsyth County Government Center, located on 201 North Chestnut Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, Monday – Friday between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. A party to the marriage may call (336) 779-6319 and leave a name and number and the magistrate will return your call to make an appointment. Marriage services requiring a Spanish interpreter will be performed by appointment only.
Marriages are also performed in the Criminal Magistrate division located at the Forsyth County Detention Center on a walk-in basis between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays only. Marriage parties must wait until criminal matters before the magistrate are completed before the civil marriage services are performed.
The parties are required to have a marriage license issued by a Register of Deeds in this State. (For the Forsyth County Register of Deeds, click here)
A marriage license is valid for only 60-days (counting the issuance date), so the wedding must take place within 60 days of issuance of the marriage license pursuant to N.C.G.S. 51-16.
The ceremony must have two competent witnesses. Please bring a photo I.D.
There is a $20 fee to be paid in cash at the time of the hearing. (Magistrates will not accept checks or credit cards or make change.)
Civil Marriage before a magistrate proceeds as follows:
- The magistrate will examine the marriage license to ensure that it is valid.
- The magistrate will receipt the party for the $20 fee. (This fee is deposited in the General Fund of the State of North Carolina and is not paid to the Magistrate or Clerk of Court.)
- The magistrate will examine the witnesses and have them sign the marriage license.
- Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 51-1 through 51(1)a. the magistrate will ask the marriage parties individually (who both must be physically present in the presence of the magistrate) if they freely and seriously take one another to be partners in the relationship defined by law as Civil Marriage.
- If they both answer affirmatively, then the magistrate will declare that the two are now legally married by the laws of the State of North Carolina.
- The Magistrate will then sign the marriage license and return the marriage license to the Register of Deeds. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 51-7 the participants will not be permitted to take or return the license themselves under any circumstances.
- Upon return of the license to the Register of Deeds the license will be certified, and, for licenses issued in Forsyth Co., a certified copy of the license will be returned to the marriage parties by mail.