Commonwealth of Massachusetts One-Day Marriage Designation Instructions
- Should you have any questions while completing this application, or if you are uncertain as to whether a submitted application has been approved, please contact a member of the Governor's Office at (617) 725-4055.
- Applications must be mailed at least six weeks prior to the date of the wedding. Please do not submit applications more than three months in advance.
- Applicants are generally allowed only one designation per calendar year.
- Completed applications must be submitted with a $25 processing fee payable to The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Applications approved by Governor Deval Patrick will be forwarded to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office for processing.
- The names of the applicant, Party A, and Party B must be typed or printed as you wish them to appear on the certificate that will be issued by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This information must coincide with the names printed on the marriage license. Please use current legal names for Party A and Party B, even if one of the individuals intends to change names following the wedding. Illegible applications will cause a delay in processing.
- A letter of reference attesting to the applicant's high standard of character is required of all applicants, excepting judges and elected officials. The letter of reference may be written by anyone besides Party A, Party B, or the applicant. The letter must be signed by its author.
- The Secretary of the Commonwealth will issue a Certificate of Solemnization to all approved applicants approximately four weeks prior to the wedding date. Should you not receive the certificate, or if you have any related questions once the Governor has approved your application, please contact the Secretary's office at (617) 727-2836.
- Following the wedding, the Certificate of Solemnization must be submitted, along with the completed marriage license, to the city or town hall at which the couple applied for the license.
- Statute requires the Governor to specify the specific date of the wedding and the city or town in which it will be held. Therefore, you will need to submit a new application if either of those details changes.
One-Day Marriage FAQs
1. WHO CAN PERFORM A WEDDING CEREMONY?
Couples can be married either by a member of the clergy, Justice of the Peace, or friend/family member. As of May 17, 2004, same-sex couples can be married in Massachusetts. To have a friend/family member perform the ceremony, a One-Day Marriage Designation is required.
2. WHAT IS A ONE-DAY MARRIAGE DESIGNATION?
According to Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 207, S. 39, the Governor can designate non-clergy individuals to solemnize a marriage, such as a friend or a family member. It is not meant for a member of the clergy or Justice of the Peace residing in Massachusetts or out of state. The only exception is for clergy residing outside of the United States.
Clergy members are required to register with the Secretary of Commonwealth. Please contact their office at (617) 727-2836 to obtain those guidelines.
The One-Day Marriage Designation is not a marriage license.For more information on marriage licenses, please click here. To contact a city or town clerk, please call Citizen Information Service at (617) 727-7030 or (800) 392-6090 or please click here.
3. HOW DO I APPLY FOR A ONE-DAY MARRIAGE DESIGNATION?
An applicant must fill out the form that is available on the Governor's website, please click here , and send it with a letter of character reference and a check or money order made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $25.00. Cash payments are not accepted.
4. CAN MORE THAN ONE PERSON PERFORM THE SAME WEDDING?
No. The certificate only allows for one individual to be listed. The ceremony can be tailored to include more than one speaker. The person listed on the certificate has to pronounce the wedding and sign the marriage license.
5. ARE THERE REQUIREMENTS FOR A ONE-DAY MARRIAGE DESIGNATION?
The couple must have the ceremony in Massachusetts. They do not have to be residents of Massachusetts.
The applicant who intends to perform the ceremony does not have to be a Massachusetts resident, but must be over 18 years of age and should not be a clergy member from another state.
6. WHEN SHOULD I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION?
Ideally, applications should be mailed 6 weeks in advance. Due to high volume, we do not accept applications less than 1 week before the wedding or applications more than 3 months in advance of the ceremony.
7. DO YOU ACCEPT APPLICATIONS BY FAX OR E-MAIL?
No. We do not accept the applications by fax or e-mail because a check or money order for $25.00 must be submitted along with the application.
8. HOW ARE APPLICATIONS PROCESSED?
Once applications have been approved by the Governor's Office, they are sent to the Secretary of State's Office. The Public Records Division is responsible for printing the certificate and processing the check. The One-Day Marriage Certificate as well as information regarding what needs to be done after the ceremony will be sent to the applicant approximately one month prior to the wedding.
9. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY APPLICATION HAS BEEN APPROVED?
Once approved, an e-mail confirmation is sent out to the applicant containing information on next steps, such as how long until the certificate is mailed out and what to do if there are any changes in the date of the wedding or location. Should you not provide an e-mail address, no confirmation e-mail will be sent. You may call (617) 725-4055 to inquire about the status of your application.
10. IF THE DATE OR LOCATION OF THE WEDDING CHANGES, DO I HAVE TO SUBMIT A NEW APPLICATION?
Yes. If the date or town of the wedding changes, a new application must be submitted. If the certificate has been issued, the Secretary of State's Office requires a check or money order for $5.00 to pay for the re-print. If a certificate has not been issued and no reprint is needed, you can fax the corrected application to the Governor's Office at (617) 727-9725.
11. WHAT IF THERE IS A TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR ON MY CERTIFICATE?
You must get in contact with the Secretary of State's Office at (617) 727-2836. They have the application on file, and will check to see where the error occurred. If the applicant made the error, you will have to resubmit a corrected application. The Secretary of State's Office requires a check or money order for $5.00 for the re-print. If it is their error, they will reissue a new certificate at no cost.
12. WHAT IF THE CITY OR TOWN CLERK REJECTS MY ONE-DAY MARRIAGE DESIGNATION?
Please contact the Secretary of State's Office to reissue a new certificate at (617) 727-2836.
13. WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE IF I AM RENEWING MY VOWS?
Since renewing vows is purely ceremonial, neither a Marriage License nor a One-Day Marriage Designation is required.