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How to Get Married in Massachusetts - Planning a Wedding in the Bay State

Published Friday, Mar. 10th, 2023

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


Massachusetts offers romantic backdrops of every kind, from fiery fall foliage, to picturesque coastal views and sparkling cityscapes – making the beloved New England state a top destination for weddings.


Applying for a marriage license in the Bay State 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. 


Asked to officiate a wedding in Massachusetts? 

Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Massachusetts



View of Boston from the water

Want to get married in Boston? Head to City Hall to apply for your marriage license!



How to get married in Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts.


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 or have applied for a one-day solemnizer permit. Ordination online through American Marriage Ministries (AMM) is free and recognized in Massachusetts.




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 Massachusetts:


A duly ordained minister of the gospel in good and regular standing with his church or denomination…; a commissioned cantor or duly ordained rabbi of the Jewish faith; by a justice of the peace if he is also clerk or assistant clerk of a city or town, or a registrar or assistant registrar, or a clerk or assistant clerk of a court or a clerk or assistant clerk of the senate or house of representatives…an authorized representative of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is in accordance with the usage of their community; a priest or minister of the Buddhist religion; a minister in fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association and ordained by a local church; a leader of an Ethical Culture Society which is duly established in the commonwealth…; the Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion; and, it may be solemnized in a regular or special meeting for worship conducted by or under the oversight of a Friends or Quaker Monthly Meeting in accordance with the usage of their Society; and, it may be solemnized by a duly ordained nonresident minister of the gospel if he is a pastor of a church or denomination duly established in the commonwealth and who is in good and regular standing as a minister of such church or denomination… (Summarized from § 207-38)


(Find more Massachusetts marriage laws here.)


A happy couple dances during their wedding reception following the ceremony, the groom's back is to the camera and the bride is smiling up at him

Massachusetts offers gorgeous indoor and outdoor venues, making it a great choice for a destination wedding any time of year. 


3. Choose a date and a venue...

Massachusetts is home to stunning natural beauty, popular parks and cultural attractions, beloved sports teams, rich history, great food and nightlife, and thriving cities like Boston, Worcester, and Springfield – 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. 



Massachusetts Marriage License Quick Facts

♡ 3 Day Waiting Period*
♡ 60 Expiration Period
♡ Return Before Expiration

*You’ll pick up your marriage license 3 days after you apply. Some offices will mail your license to you after the 3 day period has passed. The waiting period may be waived by filing a petition for Marriage without Delay with the probate or district court.

Stylized graphic showing a bride and groom on the wedding day, a court gavel, and an officiant signing a marriage license

Did you know? Every state has different laws governing when the marriage license is issued, can be completed, and must be returned. There are called a state's marriage license Waiting Period, Return Deadline, and Expiration. Learn more here. 



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 Town or City Clerk Office. Many offices require an appointment, so it’s best to call ahead. You don’t need to be a Massachusetts resident to marry there.


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Both applicants must be at least 18 years old 
  • Applicants must provide valid photo ID, proof of age, and SSN
  • Applicants must complete a Notice of Intention of Marriage Form or ‘pre-intention form’
  • Applicants must provide mothers’ maiden names
  • Applicants must provide a "surname after marriage” when applying (this will become your legal surname after you are married)
  • If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Massachusetts, we recommend contacting the county clerk closest to your venue to learn more. 


The price of your marriage license will vary depending on the town or city where you apply, and will cost between $20 and $50. Some offices will only accept certain forms of payment, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

Waiting period


There is a 3 day waiting period between applying for and receiving your marriage license.


Using and returning the license

A Massachusetts marriage license can be used in any county in the commonwealth, and expires 60 days after it’s issued. Specific directions on how to return the license will be given to you when it's issued.



The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the clerk’s office where it was issued. There are no witness requirements to marry in Massachusetts.


The license must be returned by the officiant before the end of the 60 day expiration period.



wedding flowers set up at a venue, close up on the table and bouquet



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! 



Happy young couple hold colorful fall leaves over the faces playfully on the wedding day




Asked to officiate a wedding in Massachusetts? 


Visit Weddings by State: Massachusetts 


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 Boston, Nantucket, Springfield, and Worcester.






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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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