The rules and procedures for getting married in Massachusetts are defined by Chapter 207 of the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL). Specific questions are best directed to the city or town clerk that will handle your marriage license application.
Getting Married in Massachusetts
You do not have to be a state resident to get married in Massachusetts, but you must obtain a valid marriage license issued by a Massachusetts city or town clerk. An out-of-state marriage license cannot be used.
Other than that, there are just a few restrictions to getting married in Massachusetts:
- You must be 18 years of age or older. If either party is under 18, a Marriage of Minors application form must be filed with the probate court or district court where the minor lives.
- You may not marry a close relative (as defined specifically in MGL).
- If either person was previously married, joined in a civil union, a registered domestic partnership, or other legally binding relationship recognized by another state, this relationship must be legally dissolved (meaning your divorce must be final) before applying for a Massachusetts marriage license.
Getting a Marriage License
Both partners in a marriage must go together, in person, to any city or town clerk to fill out a marriage license application (also known as a Notice of Intention of Marriage) no more than 60 days before the wedding ceremony. In addition to paying the application fee (which varies by town), each person must bring proof of their age (a certified birth certificate, passport or other document as defined by MGL Chapter 207, Section 33A) and their Social Security number.
Once an application has been accepted, there is a three-day waiting period before you receive your marriage license. The license is then only valid for 60 days from the date the application was filed. In certain circumstances, one can seek to have the waiting period waived by filing a request for a Marriage without Delay with the probate court or district court in the city or town, or county where you originally applied for the license. If you are not married within the 60 days after your license was granted, you must apply for a new license.
Who Can Legally Marry Us?
One of the most important parts of planning your wedding is determining who will actually perform the ceremony. There are four primary groups of people that can legally solemnize a marriage in Massachusetts:
- A resident clergy member (and others as defined in MGL Chapter 207, Section 38), provided they are registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
- A non-resident clergy member (and others as defined in MGL Chapter 207, Section 39) can apply to legally perform a marriage in Massachusetts by submitting a Petition to Solemnize Marriage with the Secretary of the Commonwealth no more than six weeks before the ceremony.
- A Justice of the Peace from a Massachusetts town or city (as outlined in MGL Chapter 207, Section 39)
- Want a friend or family member to perform the ceremony? If they’re over 18 they can apply for a One Day Marriage Designation from the Secretary of State's Office. The application must be in at least six weeks, but no more than three months, before the ceremony is to take place.
After the wedding ceremony is complete, whomever you chose to perform the ceremony must sign and return your marriage license to the city or town clerk where it was issued so it can be legally recorded. If you need a copy of your marriage certificate, you can get one from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.