Marriage certificates represent one of the key primary sources for family information, typically being issued the same day as a marriage takes place. In some cases, religious-based marriage documents exist too, but the civil record of the marriage has always been required.
Marriage certificates vary in content depending upon when and where the marriage took place, but usually they contain: brides' and grooms' names, ages, places of birth or recent residences, and number of marriage. In some cases the documents will have the names of the bride and grooms' parents, and address of residence after the wedding. Divorce records include similar details, as well as date of divorce, names of children and possibly the reason for dissolution. These can be valuable clues for continuing family tree research. Records in this category can include indexes that can help you request copies from vital records keepers, and in some cases the images of actual records.