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How to Get Married in New Jersey: Plan a Wedding in The Garden State

Published Friday, May. 19th, 2023

Photo: Jakob Owens / Unsplash

Planning a New Jersey wedding? This short guide will help, with advice on how to find a wedding officiant, choose a venue, and apply for your NJ marriage license.  



From beaches to pine barrens to bustling cities, New Jersey offers a variety of romantic backdrops for adventurous couples to choose from, making it a popular destination for weddings. 


Applying for a marriage license in this Mid-Atlantic state will look different in each county and municipality, 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 New Jersey?


Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant

in New Jersey


Close up photo of a beautiful table setting and centerpiece, with wine glasses and plates and a floral arrangement for a wedding reception

Photo: CHUTTERSNAP / Unsplash

Get married in New Jersey!




How to get married in New Jersey 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 New Jersey.

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 New Jersey, including AMM Ministers:


Various active and retired judges, mayors, and chairmen, and “every member of the clergy of every religion, and any civil celebrant who is certified by the Secretary of State to solemnize marriages or civil unions as set forth in subsection b. of this section, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages or civil unions between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation or civil union; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage or civil union such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.”  (Summarized from § 37:1-13)


(Find more New Jersey marriage laws here.)



A photo of a boat at Cape May in New Jersey, the boat is a small wooden boat with 'Cape May' painted on it, sitting in the sand with the ocean and a purple and blue sunrise in the background.

Photo: Dan Mall / Unsplash

New Jersey offers a variety of wedding venues, including beautiful beaches for outdoor ceremonies. To purchase a marriage license in The City of Cape May, visit the Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics.



3. Choose a date and a venue...

New Jersey is home to stunning natural beauty, theme parks and aquariums, beaches and boardwalks, and bustling cities like Newark and Jersey 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 probably 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. 


New Jersey Marriage License Quick Facts

♡ 72 Hour Waiting Period*
♡ 30 Day Expiration Period**
♡ 5 Day Return Period

*Because the Registrar’s office is usually closed on weekends, it’s suggested that you apply for your license at least 3 business days before your ceremony date to ensure you receive your license on time. (For example, apply by Tuesday for a Saturday or Sunday wedding.)

**Your marriage license application is valid for 6 months, however once a license is issued, it must be used within 30 days. 

Stylized graphic showing a groom, bride, and wedding officiant on the wedding day. The officiant is drawing an oversized pen and signing a giant marriage license (cartoon illustration).

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. 




Photo of Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ, showing the lake, a small fountain, and some buildings and trees, with a blue sky in the background.

Photo: Robert Thiemann / Unsplash

Get married at your favorite park! Branch Brook Park is the oldest county park in the country and offers beautiful views for wedding or engagement photos. 




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: 

Apply for a New Jersey marriage license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the Local Registrar’s office in the municipality where you or your partner live. If neither of you are New Jersey residents (visiting from out of state), you’ll apply for your license in the municipality where your ceremony will be performed. You don’t need to be a New Jersey resident to marry there, and your license can be used anywhere in the state.


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Both applicants must be at least 18 years old 
  • Both applicants must sign the application, under oath, in the presence of the issuing authority (the Local Registrar)
  • Proof of age and identity, including a valid driver’s license, passport, or state ID
  • Proof of residency (if applicant is a resident of New Jersey)
  • Social Security card or number
  • A witness, 18 years old or older


If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in New Jersey, we recommend contacting the Local Registrar’s office in your municipality (or closest to your venue if you are from out of state) to learn more. 


Your license will cost $28. 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 72 hour waiting period between the time you file your application with the Registrar and when you’ll receive your marriage license.


Because the Registrar’s office is usually closed on weekends, it’s suggested that you apply for your license at least 3 business days before your ceremony date to ensure you receive your license on time. Once you’ve received your license, the wedding can take place. 


How to Use and Return a New Jersey Marriage License


A New Jersey marriage license can be used anywhere in the state, and is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance (§ 37:1-4). Directions on how to return the license will be given to you when it's issued. It’s the responsibility of the person performing the marriage (your officiant) to return the license on time. 



The license must be signed by each party to the marriage, one witness, and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and filed with the Registrar of
the municipality in which the ceremony was held.


After the ceremony, the license must be returned within 5 days after the ceremony by the officiant, to the Registrar in the municipality where the ceremony was performed.



Happy photo showing a lesbian couple kissing on the wedding day, wearing white wedding dresses. Behind the two brides is a wedding officiant, she is smiling and clapping.

Photo:  Sofia Hernandez / Unsplash

New Jersey is home to many LGBTQ+ friendly wedding venues and vendors. 



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 you can't get married without a marriage license. 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, a witness, and your officiant will sign the license. 



After it’s signed, you must record it with the Local Registrar's office before the end of the 30 day expiration period. Check with your closest office for details.


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




Close up photo of newlyweds kissing.

Photo:  Victoria Priessnitz / Unsplash

Congratulations on your marriage!


Asked to perform a wedding in New Jersey? 


Visit Weddings by State: New Jersey


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 Atlantic City, Jersey City, and Newark.







You might also like: 






Close up photo of two men holding hands with a rainbow overlay

Marriage equality officially becomes law in New Jersey! Read the full article here.



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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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