How to Officiate Weddings in Nantucket
American Marriage Ministries Guide to Performing Marriage in...
We’d be hard-pressed to think of a location for a wedding more charming and idyllic than Nantucket, Massachusetts. This small New England island is known for its rich colonial past dating back to the 1600s and its history of industry in whaling and fishing. With about 10,000 permanent residents, it’s managed to retain a “small-town feel”, despite attracting hundreds-of-thousands of tourists from around the world each year.
When you visit this one-of-a-kind island, a 30-mile ferry ride from Cape Cod to the north, take a stroll through downtown, which surrounds the bay of entry. You’ll stumble upon a cluster of world class seafood restaurants and eclectic boutiques and notice the the town’s trademarks features, like its cobblestone streets, quaint cottages and pre-Civil War era manors.
Due to the island’s appeal to tourists, it has a high concentration of wedding-worthy venues for prospective couples to check out. You’ll discover a number of stunning resorts and country clubs, like the White Elephant Hotel, the Nantucket Hotel and the Wauwinet -- all of which offer luxury amenities fit for a formal affair on the water.
Or, check out some of the alternative, but equally beautiful venues that the island has to offer. One popular choice, the Hadwen House, was home to a whaling merchant named William Hadwen in the mid-1800s. Hadwen had an artist design the architecture of his property, which is recognizable by the elegant pillars in the front, and the romantic victorian gardens in the back.
For a lower-key vibe, you’ll want to check out the Westmoor Farm. The property’s barn-like structure feels romantic and relaxed. You have to see the place for yourself to really appreciate its charm.
There’s nowhere quite like Nantucket, with its quaint looks and posh personality, and most importantly, unbelievable seafood scene. So, if you’re ready to get your wedding plans rolling, grab a notepad! We have everything you need to know to get your officiant registered, your marriage license complete, and more.
According to the Massachusetts state website, the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies in Massachusetts:
By being ordained through AMM, you can qualify as an in-state or out-of-state clergy member. It’s free and takes just a few minutes.
After you’ve completed our online ordination process, you’ll qualify as a clergy member, but you’ll still need to file a separate application through the Massachusetts Secretary of State's website. The Massachusetts Secretary recomments filing at last four weeks before the wedding, but no earlier that six weeks prior. Once you receive the certificate for the state, you’ll file it with the same city hall or town clerk’s office in which the couple plans to register for their marriage license, within 10 days of the ceremony.
The second option, if you’re not a justice of the peace, is to skip getting ordained with AMM and apply for a 1-day designation with the state of Massachusetts. However, with the 1-day pass, you will be charged an extra fee by the state, and you will not be qualified to perform weddings in the future.
Now that the official documentation is taken care of, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. If you’re a first-time officiant, you’ll appreciate our wedding training pages, which are a great resource for first-time officiants.
You will find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, to tips for preparation that will help you tap into the role of officiant.
When it comes time to sign the marriage license, double check that the couple has a valid Massachusetts marriage license in their possession before the ceremony. It’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license, but it’s your job to submit the marriage license to the state office after the wedding. In Massachusetts, the license must be turned back in within 60 days of the completion of the ceremony.
For more details on correctly completing forms, please consult our guide on how to complete a marriage license.
Once that’s done, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. You’ve definitely earned yourself a bowl of famous New England chowder, or better yet, make it a full lobster dinner. You’ve earned it.
The following sections are for the couple.
You can apply for a Massachusetts marriage license from any city or town in the state — it doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Nantucket Town Clerk’s office.
Once you fill out the marriage license form and submit it to the office, there is a three-day waiting period that must occur before the ceremony. The fee for the marriage license will run between $4 and $50.
When you go, remember to bring:
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Nantucket. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
The Basics -- From Memorial Day (which Nantucket locals call “Figawi”) through Labor Day, the island comes alive with festivals and activities, but that's also when the town is inundated with tourists. If you are willing to plan a wedding in March, April, September or October, you could score a good deal on one of Nantucket’s best wedding venues. If you are deterimined to schedule a day in May or June, be prepared for fierce competition for venues, and higher prices.
Transportation -- The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority does run a seasonal island-wide shuttle service that can be useful for sight-seeing, but it’s not comparable to the comprehensive transit systems of cities. If you’re staying in the downtown area, you can probably get away with walking or biking around the island in the summertime.
If you’re staying outside of the downtown area, it’s usually best to come with your own car or rent one on the island. Cab fare can be expensive, and Lyft and Uber aren’t well-established enough to rely on at all hours.
Weather -- Like most other New England towns, Nantucket gets fairly dreary during the fall and winter, but during the summer months, the weather is so beautiful that the population of the island more than quadruples. From June through August, temperatures don’t usually get much higher than 80 degrees, and average more in the low 70s -- perfect weather for wedding activities.
You can choose to change or keep your name when you get married in Massachusetts. If you’d like to change it, you’ll have the opportunity to list that when you apply for your marriage and license and your name will automatically be changed to the one listed on your certificate after your wedding.