Are you thinking about conducting a Massachusetts marriage? Whether you are new to being an officiant or you are from out-of-state, it is important to understand the laws and requirements involved in conducting a Massachusetts marriage, from marriage license requirements to becoming certified. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Getting a Marriage License
The bride and groom need to go to any city or town clerk and fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage (essentially, a Marriage Application) no more than 60 days before the marriage. They should bring proof of age and be prepared to pay an application fee. There is then a three day waiting period before they can receive their Marriage License.
Becoming Certified to Perform a Marriage
You do not have to be a minister or even a Justice of the Peace to perform a marriage in Massachusetts. You simply need to have honorable intentions, file with the state and perform the required duties. There are 3 categories that a person who performs a wedding will fall into.
- Ministers or Clergy – Resident clergy can register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to be able to perform marriages. Out-of-State clergy must first obtain an authorization from the state Secretary’s office by submitting a Petition to Solemnize Marriage.
- Justices of the Peace – Justices of the Peace are appointed by the Governor for each town or city.
- Relative or Family Friend – To perform a wedding one time for family or friends, a person may obtain special one-time permission to perform a marriage, called a One Day Marriage Designation, from the Secretary of State’s office.
Preparing for a Wedding Ceremony
Don’t forget to prepare in advance! This is obviously a very important day for the couple. Review a detailed explanation of how a wedding ceremony is conducted and meet with the couple to make sure all of their wishes are incorporated. Practice what you will need to say out loud multiple times before the wedding, especially if this is your first time.
A wedding day is a fun and exciting time for everyone involved, including the person conducting the wedding. Here are a few things to remember to do.
- The couple needs to show you their marriage license. Make sure the information is accurate and that the license was obtained within the last 60 days.
- Sign the license. Witness signatures are not required in MA.
After the Wedding
This part is very important not to forget! After the wedding, the person who performed the wedding must return the license to the town or city clerk’s office where the marriage license was issued.
Other Resources You Should Examine
This page on mass.gov is a great resource for more detailed information on certification to perform marriage –> http://www.mass.gov/portal/residents/getting-married-in-massachusetts.html
Massachusetts laws related to marriage can be found here –>