Getting Married in Massachusetts


So, you just got engaged, great!  You have picked out the perfect venue for your reception. You have hired the best DJ or band around to provide an excellent entertainment experience at the reception. And the caterer you hired serves the most delicious food you have ever tasted. But there is one thing more important than all of that, the marriage license.

Not to worry, applying for a marriage license is an easy process.

Couple of quick things to remember:

There is a 3 day waiting period in Massachusetts to get the license once you apply;
You both need to be present when you apply;
You can apply at any city or town clerk's office in Massachusetts;
There is no residency requirement;
The license is valid for 60 days.

Now let's break it all down.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 207 covers many of the legal requirements for getting married in Massachusetts.  For the most detailed information, you should contact your city or town clerk, because each place has its own regulations about marriage licenses.

You don't have to be a resident to get married here in Massachusetts. If you or your partner is under 18 years old, you'll need permission from a parent or legal guardian to get married.

Where do I apply for the marriage license?

One of the most frequent questions I get is where do I go to apply for a marriage license and what do I need to bring with me?

Well, you can apply at any city or town clerk's office in Massachusetts. It does not have to be the clerk's office in the city or town you live in or the city or town you plan to have your ceremony in.

What paperwork do I need to get married in Massachusetts?

You need to have a marriage license to get married in the Bay State. You can apply for a license from any city or town in the state — it doesn't have to be from the city or town where you live or where your ceremony will be.

As a good rule of thumb you should contact your city or town clerk's office to find out exactly what you and your future spouse need to do to get a marriage license, but in general, before your wedding, you'll need to:

Fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage Form — You and your future spouse will need to go in person to your city or town clerk to fill out this form. You'll need to provide:

Proof of your age, such as a birth certificate or passport

Your Social Security number

Payment for fees, which vary by town

The name you'll use after the wedding if you've decided to change it

When can I pick up the license?

Pick up Your Marriage License — There is a required 3-day waiting period before you can pick up your marriage license. The license is valid for 60 days. If you're not married within 60 days of the date the license was granted, you'll need to apply for it again.

What do I do with it after I get it?

Don't lose it or you will have to reapply!

Give Your License to the Person Conducting the Ceremony — After you're married, your officiant must sign and return the license to the city or town clerk who issued it before the 60-day time period is up.

Okay, I have my license now who can perform the ceremony?

Another common question I often get asked is "who can perform my wedding ceremony?" Although I would suggest a professional officiant like myself for example or, you can follow these simple rules.

There are 4 primary groups of people who can officiate at weddings in Massachusetts. Each group needs to meet different requirements to get licensed.

In-state Clergy Member — If you'd like to be married by a member of the clergy who lives in Massachusetts, they are most likely already authorized to perform the ceremony. However, if they haven't performed a marriage in the state before, they'll need to file 3 forms with the Commissions Section of the Public Records Division.

In-state Justice of the Peace — Justices of the Peace are appointed by the Governor. Contact your city or town clerk for more information if you'd like to be married by a Justice of the Peace.

Out-of-state Clergy Member or Justice of the Peace — Clergy members or Justices of the Peace who are authorized in other states to perform marriages have to file the non-resident, out-of-state clergy petition to get a certificate to officiate your ceremony. They shouldn't submit the application more than 6 weeks before your wedding day. Once your officiant-to-be receives the certificate — usually 2–4 weeks after applying — they have to file it with the city or town clerk that will issue your marriage license within 10 days of the ceremony.

Anyone with a 1-day Designation — If you want a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, they can apply for a 1-day designation. They must fill out an application online or by mail from 6 months to 1 week before your wedding date. There is no residency requirement for 1-day designations.

That about sums it up, if you have any questions contact your local city or town clerk or drop me a line.  If you are still in search of an officiant to perform the wedding ceremony, click on over to the contact form and let's start a conversation.