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Justices of the Peace are Causing Marriage Mayhem in Connecticut

Published Friday, Mar. 29th, 2024

A groom places a wedding ring on a bride's finger during their marriage ceremony.
Photo: Julien / Adobe Stock

Justices of the Peace in Bridgeport, Connecticut have created a marriage scandal…


According to this recent article in the Connecticut Post, some justices of the peace have been loitering outside the vital records office in the city’s downtown government center in order to solicit business from couples leaving with a new marriage license. 


These justices wait around for couples with a marriage license to appear, and then pounce, offering to marry them on the spot and taking opportunities from justices who work in other parts of the city. 


The ethically questionable practice has caused a lot of contention in the area, with many people pointing out that justices are paid for their work as wedding officiants and should be discouraged from trying to ‘drum up’ clients at city hall, just like any other professional would be (via CTPost)


To make things worse, these spontaneous weddings appear to be creating crowded conditions in the center’s lobby, where the vital records office is located. 


It’s what we’d like to call ‘marriage mayhem.’ 


An aerial view of downtown Bridgeport, CT

Looking for a marriage license in Bridgeport, CT? Head down to the Bridgeport Office of Vital Records on State Street. The fee is around $50, to be paid to the local registrar when you apply. For more details on how to get married in CT, head here. 



The issue is also likely political in nature; according to a resource shared by the CT General Assembly, “Two-thirds of a municipality's justices of the peace are selected by major political parties… Justices are selected during presidential election years and serve a four-year term.”


Currently, there is no established fee for justices of the peace who officiate marriages in Connecticut. According to the Justices of the Peace Manual issued by the CT Secretary of State, justices can charge any amount, as long as all parties agree to the fee beforehand.


Related: Connecticut becomes 9th state to ban child marriage, raises age to marry to 18 without exceptions


Local officials are brainstorming ways to calm the controversy and keep justices from approaching couples at the center. 


Councilman Jorge Cruz has suggested banning marriage ceremonies at city hall. "Don't do marriages at city hall. Come up with another place," he told reporters (via


The mayor’s chief administrative officer, Thomas Gaudett, issued a warning to city employees who are also justices of the peace or religious officials, telling them that they can no longer solemnize marriages while they’re on the clock (via 


Get the full scoop in this article by Brian Lockhart for the Connecticut Post




Read Next: 


How to Officiate a Wedding in Bridgeport, Connecticut
And How To Get Married in Bridgeport


A wedding officiant stands smiling at a bride and groom during an outdoor wedding ceremony. The newlyweds are standing with their backs to the camera, facing the officiant.

Photo:  wavebreak3 / Adobe Stock



Who Can Officiate Weddings in Connecticut? 


Justices of the Peace are only one type of officiant allowed to perform weddings in Connecticut. 


Connecticut marriage laws allow various government officials, judges and justices, and clergy members to officiate weddings. This includes all AMM Ministers ordained online through American Marriage Ministries. 



See the Statute: 


General Statutes of Connecticut § 46B-22 
Who may join persons in marriage. Penalty for unauthorized performance.


" (a) Persons authorized to solemnize marriages in this state include (1) all judges and retired judges, either elected or appointed, including federal judges and judges of other states who may legally join persons in marriage in their jurisdictions, (2) family support magistrates, family support referees, state referees and justices of the peace who are appointed in Connecticut, and (3) all ordained or licensed members of the clergy, belonging to this state or any other state. All marriages solemnized according to the forms and usages of any religious denomination in this state, including marriages witnessed by a duly constituted Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, are valid. All marriages attempted to be celebrated by any other person are void. "



If you’d like to officiate weddings in Connecticut and other states around the country, get ordained with AMM today



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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