How To Obtain a Marriage License or Certificate in Massachusetts?
If you love lobster and want to treat your guests to a Bay State affair, then Massachusetts is the place for you to get married. Massachusetts boasts of miles of lovely coastline with breathtaking vistas, mountain get-aways for your honeymoon and lots of delicious seafood.
However, first, you need to make sure you have all your ducks in a row and comply with the rules and regulations Massachusetts imposes on people who get married within the state.
Rules and Regulations
There are a few laws you must abide by to be married in Massachusetts. Here is a list of the dos and don’ts for getting married in the bay state.
- Marriage to a relative (mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother or grandfather, grand children’s offspring, stepparent, grand parent’s spouse, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles) is explicitly prohibited.
- People under the age of 18, require a parent’s or guardian’s written consent to be married.
- Anyone currently married (not divorced, widowed or annulled) must legally dissolve that marriage before entering into another one. You can use CourtRecords.org to look up previous marriage records and start the process of terminating your current one and move forward with your new life.
- You do not have to be a state resident to be married in Massachusetts.
- Same-sex marriage is legal and has been since, May of 2004.
- Polygamy is not legal in the state of Massachusetts.
You will first need to apply for and obtain a marriage license before getting married in Massachusetts. You can register for one in any town, not necessarily your city of residence. Contact your specific town clerk’s office to find out the details of what you will need to file. The first step, however, will be to fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage form. When applying, you will need to bring the following paperwork with you:
- Proof of your age (birth certificate, driver’s license or passport)
- Your social security number or card
- Your checkbook for fees to be paid
- Your current name and name change if applicable
After you apply for your marriage license, you will need to wait three days to pick it up. Massachusetts imposes a 3-day waiting period for most marriage licenses. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Once obtained, the marriage license is good for only 60-days. Be sure to plan your wedding within that timeframe, or you will need to re-apply before getting married. Make sure your officiating agent signs and files the marriage license after the ceremony. This step is vital for it to become public record and remain legal.
Who Can Officiate?
Massachusetts offers a variety of options for officiating a legal marriage. They are broken down into four groups:
- In-State Clergy Member (be sure they are authorized to perform weddings).
- In-State Justice of the Peace (again, make sure they are allowed to perform marriage ceremonies in the state.
- Out-of-State Clergy Member or JP - (if you choose to use someone out-of-state, they will need to file a non-resident out-of-state clergy petition to perform at your wedding).
- Someone With a 1-Day Designation - (you may appoint a family member or friend to perform your wedding, but they will have to apply in advance for a 1-day designation permit beforehand).
Where Can I Get Married?
There are dozens of perfect locations and venues in Mass. where you can hold your wedding. You do not have to get married within a church, a park or other appropriate place is entirely permissible. With a permit, you can conduct your marriage ceremony in one of the public parks. You might want to contact the travel and tourism board for a list of wedding venues and other affordable options.
After The Wedding
You can visit your town hall or clerk’s office to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate, once your officiant has signed and filed it. There may be a small fee for a copy.
If you choose to change your name, you will need the copy of your marriage certificate to have your credit cards, driver’s license and other identifying documents changed. Don’t forget to have your voter registration changed as well!