Published: Tuesday, Nov. 16th, 2021
From stunning coastlines to emerald forests, colorful fishing communities, and decadent restaurants and resorts, Maine offers romantic backdrops of every kind. With plenty of room to relax and many affordable venues to choose from, it’s easy to see why this quintessential New England gem is a top destination for weddings.
Applying for a marriage license in The Pine Tree 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.
(If you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding in Maine, scroll down for helpful links.)
Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.
A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal. In Maine, a friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony, if they’ve been ordained. (Get ordained online for free with AMM.)
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 Maine: If a resident of Maine: A justice or judge; a lawyer admitted to the Maine Bar; or a notary public. If a resident of any state or country: An ordained minister or cleric; a person licensed to preach by an association of ministers, religious seminary or ecclesiastical body. Or an individual with a temporary registration certificate to solemnize a marriage ceremony.
(Find a detailed list of qualified officiants and more Maine marriage laws here.)
Maine is home to breathtaking views, charming waterfront towns, and lobsters and blueberries galore, along with all the luxuries of thriving cities like Portland, Augusta, and Bangor, 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.
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:
You’ll apply for your marriage license through a Town or City Clerk’s office. In Maine, this form is referred to as an “Intention of Marriage Application.” If you live in the state, you must apply for your license in the town where you live. If you’re visiting from out of state, you can buy your license from any Clerk’s office in the state. You don’t need to be a Maine resident to marry there.
Requirements to apply:
During COVID, many offices are operating by appointment only, and some may require you to start the process through email, or to complete your Intention of Marriage Application before arriving in person.
If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Maine, we recommend contacting your town’s Clerk (if you’re a resident), or the Clerk’s office closest to your venue (if you’re from out of state) to learn more.
Your marriage license will cost about $40. There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.
There is no waiting period between the time an application is filed and when a marriage license is issued and can be used.
A Maine marriage license can be used in any county in the state, and expires 90 days after it was issued.
The license must be signed by each party to the marriage, two witnesses, and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned to the office where it was issued. (We’ll cover this more below.)
The license must be returned within 7 working days of the ceremony.
To get a Cumberland County marriage license,
visit the Register of Deeds near the Portland waterfront.
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 tagged for couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword.
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. Once it’s signed, it must be returned to the office where it was issued within 7 working days of the ceremony. Check with your county for details.
Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married!
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 the cities of Lewiston and Portland.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!