I know of st least two cases in my family where the license was NOT returned by the officiating minister, for whatever reason, so there was no record of the marriage. It didn’t mean they weren’t, just that there was no records. Back in the day, in my neck of the woods, people didn’t take kindly to others shacking up. It would have been a known thing. Tongues wag, you know! In both cases there wasn’t a hint of scandal, so they had to have been married.