First Steps Toward Forever

From the proposal to the prenup, there are a few nitty gritty details that need to be handled before that sweet walk down the aisle.  

You’ve met the love of your life and you’re ready to tie the knot. But how should you propose, and what will you need to make it down the aisle? Here are a few tips to help you on the road to wedded bliss.


Will You …?

This act can be as simple and direct and traditional as the getting down on one knee in front of family and friends and present a ring. Or it can be as creatively imaginative and romantic as your thoughts allow.

The ring can be hidden in a coffee cup early in the morning — without the coffee, of course. You can arrange the proposal at a Savannah Gnats baseball game in the summer and have it flash on the scoreboard. You can go the beach with your sweetie in the late afternoon, build a sandcastle together and position the ring on the highest tower. You can sneak in early to your girlfriend’s classroom or office and write out the proposal on her desk or classroom blackboard.

And when it comes to the ring and the all-important four “C”s — clarity, cut, color and carats — the cut is the most important; it determines the shape and quality of the finished stone. It’s also not a bad idea to take your fiancée ring shopping before purchasing a sparkler, or ask her close friends or her mother about any jewelry preferences.

Just remember, wherever and however you choose to propose, it will take on a life of its own afterward.

Make It Official

Here’s what you’ll need to apply for a marriage license in South Carolina.

  • You and your fiancé will need to apply in person at the office of the county probate judge.
  • The application will ask for your full name, Social Security number, age and place of residence. Because this is a sworn statement, it must be signed by both of you and notarized in the office.
  • You will need to show a government-issued photo ID, like your driver’s license.
  • The license costs $50 if both applicants reside in Beaufort County, $75 if neither resides in Beaufort County but at least one applicant resides in South Carolina, and $95 if neither resides in South Carolina. Fees are payable in cash.
  • There is a 24-hour waiting period after the application is filed before you can pick it up. If you’re getting married over the weekend, make sure you apply for the earlier in the week.
  • If you are 18 or older, you do not need parental consent, but you will have to show identification. If you are younger than 18, parental consent can be given for boys and girls who are at least 16. All minors must file an original birth certificate or certified copy, and the parent or legal guardian must be present at the same time as the minor to present identification and sign a consenting form to the marriage.
  • If you want to change your last name, use an online marriage name change kit.
  • Both parties must be present in a proxy marriage.
  • A South Carolina marriage license is valid for six months from the date it was issued. If not used within the six-month period, the application process, including payment of fee, must be repeated in its entirety.
  •  In South Carolina, proof of a divorce is not required if married previously (unless you legally changed your last name back to your maiden name). Common-law marriages are not allowed, and no blood tests or physical exams are required.


Pre-Party Planning

A bridal shower is usually held four to six weeks prior to the wedding, and is hosted by one or more of the bridesmaids. Invitations these days can be informal to the guests invited. Those who are invited also are invited to attend the wedding.

The Major Players

Everyone in the wedding party has certain duties to fulfill. Here’s a summary:

  • Bride’s parents. Historically, they footed the bill for most of the wedding expenses and hosted the first engagement party. These days, expenses are being shared by many. The mom will help with the guest list and choose her attire. The dad gets fitted for formalwear, escorts his daughter to the ceremony site and walks her down the aisle. After the reception, he traditionally pays any outstanding bills.
  • Groom’s parents. They may host their own engagement party and provide a guest list to the couple. They also usually host the rehearsal dinner and may contribute to some of the wedding expenses.
  • Maid of honor. She’s the bride’s go-to person. She will coordinate all bridesmaids’ activities, help dress the bride, arrange her veil and train during the processional and recessional, and make sure pictures are taken after the ceremony.
  • Bridesmaids. They assist the maid of honor and help out in any way before the ceremony. They pay for their own attire and personal expenses, and walk in the processional and recessional.
  • Best man. He assists the groom however needed before, during and after the ceremony. He also usually organizes the bachelor party, coordinates the wedding toasts, confirms honeymoon reservations, and makes sure the groom gets to the ceremony on time. He will hold the bride’s ring and organize the groomsmen for formal pictures.