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How to Get Married in Maryland - Planning a wedding in The Free State

Published: Friday, Aug. 5th, 2022


Get married in Maryland! Cover photo by Junior Karrick Djikounou

Planning a Maryland wedding? This short guide will help -- from finding an officiant to completing the marriage license. 

 

 

 

From the historic port city of Baltimore, to the forests and apple orchards of the Western panhandle, Maryland offers romantic backdrops of every kind. Toss in a few world-famous crab cakes, historic sites, relaxing beaches, and first-class theaters and venues, and it's easy to see why this Mid Atlantic state is a top destination for weddings. 

 

Applying for a marriage license in Maryland will look different in each county, so it’s important to get a head start on the planning process to avoid unnecessary stress. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you begin.

 

If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding in Maryland, scroll down for helpful links.

 


Aerial photo of Baltimore, Maryland, with the Inner Harbor in the foreground and blue skies and clouds along the horizon

Head to the Clerk of Circuit Court office in Baltimore for your marriage license

 

 

How to get married in Maryland in 6 Steps 

 

 

1. Get yourself a sweetheart! 


Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.
 

 

2. Find a wedding officiant in Maryland.


A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.

 

A friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony if they’ve been ordained.

 

 

 

If you want to hire a professional, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in Maryland:

 

 (i) any official of a religious order or body authorized by the rules and customs of that order or body to perform a marriage ceremony; (ii) any clerk; (iii) any deputy clerk designated by the county administrative judge of the circuit court for the county; or (iv) a judge. (§ 2-406)

 

(Find more Maryland marriage laws here.)

 

 

A beautifully dressed couple hold hands as they walk toward a wedding arch covered in flowers outdoors in the woods on their wedding day

Spring and Fall are favorite times for outdoor weddings in Maryland, 

but the state offers one-of-a-kind wedding venues year round

 

 

3. Choose a date and a venue...


Maryland is home to Colonial-era architecture, rich history, crab cakes, and Natty Boh, and thriving cities and tourist towns like Baltimore, Columbia, Annapolis, Germantown, and Ocean City – making it a favorite for destination weddings. 

 

Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do or a romantic elopement for two, there’s something for everyone!

 

 

Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and a permit) to use a public space, such as a city park or recreational area. Permits can take weeks to process, so factor this into your timeline, too. 

 

 

Marriage License Quick Facts

2 Day Waiting Period*
6 Month Expiration Period
5 Day Return Period

*A license is not effective until 6:00 a.m. on the second calendar day after it’s issued. 

 

 

 

4. The marriage license. 


Alright, time to make sure your wedding’s legal! We’ll break down each part of the marriage license process, one step at a time: 


Applying for your license

 

You’ll apply for your marriage license through the Circuit Court Clerk's Office in the county where your marriage is to take place, or complete a Non-Resident Marriage License Application-Affidavit. This affidavit can be completed in any county in the state or by mail, as long as neither party is a resident in the county where the ceremony is being held. You don’t need to be a Maryland resident to marry there. 

 

Requirements to apply for a license vary by county. We recommend contacting the Clerk’s Office for specific local requirements. 

 

Requirements to Apply in most counties: 

 

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old (legal age of consent to marry) or meet the requirements of minors
  • At least one party to the marriage must appear in person at the office of the Circuit Court Clerk in the county in which the ceremony will take place (or in which the Non-Resident Marriage License Application-Affidavit is completed)
  • Parties must provide photo ID and personal information including full name, age, state of birth, address, and social security number
  • If either party has been previously married, they must provide exact date and location that each marriage ended

 

If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Maryland, we recommend contacting the clerk in the county where your venue is located to learn more. 


Cost

 
Each county sets its own fees for purchasing a marriage license. Your license will cost between $30-$85. Some offices will only accept cash, debit or credit card, or certified check, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.


Waiting period


There is a 2 day waiting period to marry in Maryland. Your license will not be effective (and you can not hold a ceremony) until 6:00 a.m. on the second calendar day after the license is issued.


Using and returning the license


A Maryland marriage license must be used in the same county in which it was issued (your ceremony must be held in this county), and expires 6 months after it’s issued. 

 

 

The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony. 

 

One copy of the marriage certificate (license) must be returned by the officiant to the couple. The other copy must be returned by the officiant to the County Clerk’s Office in the same county in which it was issued within 5 days of the ceremony. 

 

The license must be returned within 5 days of the wedding ceremony.

 

 

Aerial view of Annapolis, Maryland on a sunny day with partial cloud cover

Want to get a marriage license in Anne Arundel County? 

Head to the Clerk of the Court - Circuit Court office in beautiful Annapolis.

 

 

5. Meet with your wedding officiant...


Once you’ve chosen a date, a venue, and have your marriage license details worked out, you’ll be ready to meet with your wedding officiant to plan the ceremony! 

 

 
This is when things start to come into focus. You’ll talk about the tone of your ceremony, the ‘vibe’ you want to create for your guests, and any special elements and unity rituals you want to include. You and your officiant might meet a few more times to exchange more ideas, fine-tune a script, or rehearse the ceremony leading up to the wedding day. 

 

AMM’s website is full of resources to help you decide what kind of ceremony you want, tips on working well with your officiant, and advice on keeping your ceremony authentic and on budget. 

 

Visit Articles for Couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword. 

 

 

6. The wedding day! 


Aside from yourselves, the most important thing you’ll bring with you on the wedding day is your marriage license -- because no license means no marriage. Your officiant won’t be able to perform the wedding without having a license present (even if you have it at home), so make sure it’s with you. 

 

After the ceremony, you and your officiant will sign the license. 

 

For tips on how to complete the license, head here. 

 

After it’s signed, you must record it with the local county before the end of the 30 day expiration period. Check with your county for details.

 

Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married! 

 

 

A young couple kiss in the park on their wedding day. The groom holds an umbrella and sits in a wheelchair while the woman wears a white wedding gown and sits on the park bench

Congratulations!

 


Do you want to officiate a wedding in Maryland? 

 

Visit Weddings by State: Maryland. 

 

We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need, and helpful tips for several cities in the state, including Baltimore and Columbia (Howard County).

 

 


 

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About the Author
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves digging into the history and magic of ritual, exploring the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She’s an advocate for marriage equality and individuality. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys easy hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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