Here you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Massachusetts law does not require that witnesses be present at your ceremony.
Sorry, but no. Massachusetts law prohibits me from legally marrying you without a license in hand.
This will vary according to what a couple wishes to include in their ceremony. The typical ceremony however, will be 10 to 20 minutes.
If you are having a small, informal ceremony a rehearsal is not usually necessary. A rehearsal, however, is recommended for larger and more formal ceremonies.
Fees begin at just $100.00 for a standard civil ceremony within my hometown of Reading. Additional fees apply for ceremonies outside of Reading, rehersals, renewal of vows ceremonies, etc.
After the ceremony, I will complete the section of the license for the Officiant and return it to the City or Town Hall that issued it. After they record your marriage, you will be able to get a certified copy from them for a small fee. If you wish, I can issue you an unofficial wedding certificate which may suffice for things such as hotel upgrades, etc.
First, get an original Marriage Certificate from the City or Town Clerk that issued your Marriage Licence (most cities and towns charge about $10.00 each). Then start by calling Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and following the automated instructions. Or go to www.socialsecurity.gov. They’ll send you your new Social Security card at no charge.
You will also need your Marriage Certificate to update your Massachusetts driver’s licence. This also requires a personal appearance at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
And don’t forget to notify credit card companies and banks, the Post Office, employers, schools, etc. And you will need to update your voter registration, insurance policies, mortgages and other loans.
One important note: Wait until after your honeymoon to update your passport which needs to match the name on your plane ticket.
OPENING WORDS OF JP AND WELCOMING ("Dearly Beloved we are gathered here today, etc...")
THE GIVING IN MARRIAGE (Here the JP asks who is giving Bride away)
ADMONITION AND DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE (Here the JP offers advice/insight on the institution of marriage)
A READING (Can be read by JP or someone else)
VOWS (You say your "I do's" and recite your vows)
VOCAL SOLO (Appropriate here if desired)
EXCHANGE OF RINGS (you say your ring vows and exchange rings)
LIGHTING OF UNITY CANDLE (JP says a few words about you becoming a family as you light the candle.)
VOCAL SOLO OR SECOND READING.
CLOSING PRAYER OR BLESSING.
DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE (JP pronounces you married and you kiss)
INTRODUCTION OF NEWLYWEDS (JP introduces you as a couple to your guests)
The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is your Special Day and you can create your ceremony by adding, deleting or changing any of the above items with one exception.
The ONLY required part of the ceremony is the Declaration of Marriage. Under Massachusetts law, you must be pronounced married by your Officiant in order for the marriage to be legal. Every other part of the ceremony is optional.
When you select your Justice of the Peace, make sure you choose one who will work closely with you and design a ceremony that best reflects who you are as a couple and a ceremony that you are comfortable with. For example, if you wish to write your own vows make sure the Justice you choose is receptive to that. Likewise, if you are not comfortable with speaking in front of an audience, make sure your Officiant understands that and keeps your verbage to a minimum. If you follow this advice, your ceremony will flow smoothly.
All people who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in Massachusetts. An out-of-state license cannot be used. This outlines the procedures you must follow to obtain the license.
You must both apply in person for a marriage license. According to Massachusetts law, you must jointly file intentions to marry, and you may do so with the city or town clerk in any community in the state. If a person is in the military, intentions may be filed by either party, providing one is a Massachusetts resident. If a person is incarcerated in a county house of correction or a state correctional facility, intentions may be filed by either party. A marriage license, once obtained, is valid for 60 days from the date intentions are filed and may be used in any Massachusetts city or town. It is not valid outside the state.
Note of caution: Please check your marriage license carefully after issuance for accuracy, spelling, and expiration. Your marriage license is a permanent record.
Yes, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period. While Sundays and holidays are included in the three days, the day the application is made is not. For example, if you apply on Friday, your license will be issued on or after Monday. Check with your town clerk to determine whether you must pick it up in person, or if it can be mailed.
Yes, if you can obtain a court waiver after filing intentions. According to MGL Ch. 207:30, if both parties are residents, or non-residents, or one of each, and they need to dispense with the three days, they may do so by applying to the judge of a probate or district court to have the license issued without delay, after filing intentions with the clerk.
You should file your intentions first with any city or town clerk. Then an application for a waiver must be filed by both of you at a probate or district court. After a hearing, the court may issue a certificate allowing the marriage license to be issued, and the marriage may be performed without delay.
Fees in most communities range between $10 and $50 dollars. The state statute stipulates a fee of $4 for the license but it allows cities and towns by a vote of their city councils, boards of selectmen or town meeting, or by a change in the by-laws, to set their own fee.
A Massachusetts resident may marry if he or she is 18 years of age or older. A birth certificate may be required to show proof of age.
If either party is under 18, a court order from a probate or district court where the minor resides must be obtained before the marriage intentions can be filed.
Effective 28 January, 2005 blood tests/medical certificates are no longer required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
When one party is in the military and cannot apply in person to file intentions, the other party may file intentions alone as long as he/she can provide proof that the other party is on active duty in the military.
While most city or town clerks do not require you to present a divorce certificate when filing intentions to marry, some may require this if divorced within the last two years. It is extremely important that an individual who has been divorced be certain that his/her divorce is absolute. If you are uncertain as to the absolute date of your divorce, you should contact the court where the divorce was granted. In Massachusetts, a divorce does not become absolute until 90 days after the divorce nisi has been granted, regardless of the grounds for divorce.
No. The process is the same.
The Justice of the Peace must complete and sign the original license and return it to the clerk of the city or town where the license was issued.