Minister Licensing Requirements in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Minister Required to Register with State Massachusetts General Laws 38

Minimum Minister Age: 18 Years

Minister's Residency: Irrelevant

Same-Sex Marriage Recognized: Yes

Minister Registration Requirements
Required by the Secretary of the Commonwealth

Residents

  1. Ordination Certificate
  2. Letter of Good Standing

Non-Residents

  1. Non-Resident Clergy - Petition to Solemnize Marriage Application
Application Fee: None

Minister Licensing Office
Minister are Required to Register with the:

Please select a municipality to view their specific contact information.

How to Perform Marriage

1. Become an Ordained Minister

American Marriage Ministries is a non-profit, interfaith and non-denominational church with the mission to ensure that all people have the right to perform marriage. We offer ordination to all people, regardless of religious background or spiritual philosophy, that agree with our three tenets:

  1. All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
  2. It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
  3. All people have the right to solemnize marriage.

Applying to become an AMM Minister is not a declaration of exclusive faith; it is an act of fellowship, allowing our tenets to coexist with personal beliefs. We believe that people of all backgrounds can find community within the simple tenets of our faith.

About Our Ordination

The AMM ordination is free, requires no special course of study, and takes only a moment. Our goal is to help people on their path to performing marriage for friends and family.

The act of solemnizing marriage historically belonged to the people, and only recently has it become the domain of the state. A marriage is a momentus spiritual event, but the legal act of solemnizing marriage is nothing more than signing a piece of paper; a task that does not necessitate the time, expense, and academia of a traditional seminarial degree.

If you have been asked by people close to you to solemnize their marriage, we believe you have the right to.

2. Prepare for Performing Marriage

Preparing to officiate a wedding involves two major steps:

  1. Complying with any applicable government regulations.
  2. Preparing what you will say for the ceremony.

We will discuss both steps below, but to fully utilize our resources we recommend that you register the wedding that you will perform with the AMM Wedding Helper - a free tool for AMM Ministers.

a. Minister Licensing Requirements

In Massachusetts all ministers are required to register with the City or Town Clerk before performing marriage. There is no application fee though all ministers must be at least 18 years of age. Same-sex marriages are recognized in Massachusetts.

The City or Town Clerk has two application procedures, one for Massachusetts residents and one for Non-Residents:


Steps for Residents

Follow the instructions on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website. You will need to provide the following documents:

Residents

  1. Ordination Certificate
  2. Letter of Good Standing

We recommend that you order your Massachusetts Minister Licensing Package. It contains everything you need to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, including your Ordination Certificate, Letter of Good Standing, and Massachusetts Resident Clergy From and as well as instructional material on how to conduct a wedding.

Standard shipping for all orders is 3-10 business days, depending on where in the country your package is being shipped. We also offer expedited shipping methods in case you are on a tighter timeline.

You should mail your application to:

Secretary of the Commonwealth, Commissions Section
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth website - "Upon receipt of the above information, this office will consider the individual duly recorded to perform marriage ceremonies within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." If you have further questions, you can contact them at 617-727-2836.

Steps for Non-Residents

Non-Residents of Massachusetts must obtain a Solemnization Certificate from the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office. After the wedding, your Solemnization Certificate must be returned with the couple's completed marriage license to the City or Town Clerk's office that issued the marriage license.

To obtain your Solemnization Certificate, you must complete the following application:

Non-Residents

  1. Non-Resident Clergy - Petition to Solemnize Marriage Application

Application Instructions

You must complete the Out of State Non-Resident Clergy - Petition to Solemnize Marriage. We reccommend that you identify yourself as "Other" and that you enter "Minister of American Marriage Ministries". The rest of the application will ask you to provide personal details about yourself, the couple, and the wedding.

Once you have completed the application, you can fax it to 617-727-5914 or mail it to the:

Secretary of the Commonwealth, Commissions Section
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Filing Instructions

The City or Town Clerk asks that you allow 2 - 4 weeks for processing your application and that you apply not more than 6 Weeks in advance of the wedding.

After obtaining your Solemnization Certificate you can perform the marriage, but after the wedding you must return the Solemnization Certificate with the couple's completed marriage license to the City or Town Clerk's office. The City or Town Clerk provides a list of all City or Town Clerk's offices in Massachusetts for you to contact.

Once you're approved by the City or Town Clerk you can perform marriage!

One Day Marriage Designation - We understand that ministerial registration in Massachusetts is more involved than in other states. The Massachusetts Governor's office provides an alternative path to performing marriage with their One Day Marriage Designation that according to their website is"...a procedure to allow a friend/family member to perform a wedding ceremony in Massachusetts.". There is a $25 application fee.

b. Preparing the Ceremony

Many AMM Ministers get ordained to perform their first marriage and are often unsure of the process. Aside from legal concerns, the biggest fear most people have is public speaking. Plan ahead, practice, and you will do a great job!

A typical wedding ceremony is only 10 - 20 minutes and follows a time tested format. When you speak, remember that you were personally chosen by the couple, and that the most important two people already have faith in your ability. Weddings are a celebration with friends and family – the best audience anyone could ask for.

If you have never conducted a wedding or are simply want to refresh your knowledge, visit the Wedding Training section.

Our resources are here to walk you through a wedding ceremony, discussing structure, providing samples, and more.

Every wedding is unique, and the couple will want to personalize the format of their ceremony. Since you already know them, you should have no trouble collaborating and choosing your words for the ceremony.

Once the script is set, we highly recommend that you rehearse the ceremony by yourself and in front of friends. With enough practice, you will be fully prepared to confidently officiate your first wedding.

3. Officiate the Wedding

By this point you should be fully prepared to officiate. Perform the ceremony and have fun!

Handling the Marriage License

After the ceremony it is time for official recordkeeping. The couple will present their marriage license for you and the witnesses. The minister's job is to look over the license, confirm that the information is accurate, and complete the officiant's section.

In the eyes of the state, solemnizing marriage is the act of administering a contract (the marriage license) between two people.

Marriage licenses vary dramatically in appearance, but all ask for a similar set of information. Our How to Complete a Marriage License page explains all of the details that may be required on a marriage license.

Once completed, you or the couple must return the license to its office of issuance (usually by mail). In Massachusetts, completed marriage licenses must be returned within 60 days of its issuance. The license is then recorded by the state and the marriage becomes a legal binding contract.

About the Marriage License (FOR THE COUPLE)

* This information is not for the minister but for the couple, and is included for reference.


Couples getting married in Massachusetts must file for a marriage license with the City or Town Clerk's office before their wedding day. The state will not recognize a marriage without a marriage license.


Massachusetts Marriage License Info:

Issuing Office: City or Town Clerk

Statewide License Cost: $4 - 60

Waiting Period: 3 days to receive

Expiration: 60 Days

Return: Before Expiration


Waiting Period: The minimum amount of time the couple must wait to get married from the date that they are granted their marriage license.

Expiration: The amount of time that the marriage license is valid from its issuance date.

Return: The amount of time that the completed marriage license must be returned after the wedding.


That’s all there is to it!

As of December 14th, 2017, American Marriage Ministries has ordained 2,642 AMM Ministers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who have registered 562 weddings. What's This?

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Massachusetts General Laws

Minister LicensingSolemnization Of Marriage

38 Situs; persons authorized

A marriage may be solemnized in any place within the commonwealth by the following persons who are residents of the commonwealth: a duly ordained minister of the gospel in good and regular standing with his church or denomination, including an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church or in the Roman Catholic Church; 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, by a justice of the peace if he has been designated as provided in the following section and has received a certificate of designation and has qualified thereunder; 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 and recognized by the American Ethical Union and who is duly appointed and in good and regular standing with the American Ethical Union; 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, including an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church or in the Roman Catholic Church; and, it may be solemnized according to the usage of any other church or religious organization which shall have complied with the provisions of the second paragraph of this section.

Churches and other religious organizations shall file in the office of the state secretary information relating to persons recognized or licensed as aforesaid, and relating to usages of such organizations, in such form and at such times as the secretary may require.

Part II: Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations - Title III: Domestic Relations - Chapter 207: Marriage

Minister Licensing

39 Justice or non-resident clergymen

The governor may in his discretion designate a justice of the peace in each town and such further number, not exceeding one for every five thousand inhabitants of a city or town, as he considers expedient, to solemnize marriages, and may for a cause at any time revoke such designation. The state secretary, upon payment of twenty-five dollars to him by a justice of the peace so designated, who is also a clerk or an assistant clerk of a city or town or upon the payment of fifty dollars by any other such justice, shall issue to him a certificate of such designation.

The state secretary may authorize, subject to such conditions as he may determine, the solemnization of any specified marriage anywhere within the commonwealth by the following nonresidents: a 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; an authorized representative of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is in accordance with the usage of their community; the Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion; a duly ordained 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 recognized by the American Ethical Union and who is duly appointed and in good and regular standing with the American Ethical Union; a justice of a court or a justice of the peace authorized to solemnize a marriage by virtue of their office within their state of residence; 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. A nonresident may solemnize a marriage according to the usage of any church or religious organization which shall have complied with the provisions of the second paragraph of section 38. A certificate of such authorization shall be issued by the state secretary and shall be attached to the certificate issued under section twenty-eight and filed with the appropriate city or town clerk. If one of the nonresidents enumerated above solemnizes a specified marriage anywhere within the commonwealth without having obtained a certificate under this section, the state secretary, upon application of such person, may issue a certificate validating such person's acts. The certificate of validation shall be filed with the certificate issued under section twenty-eight of chapter two hundred and seven.

In addition to the foregoing, the governor may designate any other person to solemnize a particular marriage on a particular date and in a particular city or town, and may for cause at any time revoke such designation. The state secretary, upon the payment to him of twenty-five dollars by said other person, shall issue to said person a certificate of such designation. Such certificate shall expire upon completion of such solemnization.

Part II: Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations - Title III: Domestic Relations - Chapter 207: Marriage

Minister Licensing

40 Records of marriages; keeping; returns

Every justice of the peace, minister of the gospel, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Association, rabbi, secretary of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, leader of an Ethical Culture Society, duly ordained priest or minister of the Buddhist religion, Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion, clerk or keeper of the records of a meeting wherein marriages among Friends or Quakers are solemnized, nonresident justice of a court and any person authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usage of any other church or religious organization which shall have complied with the provisions of the second paragraph of section thirty-eight shall make and keep a record of each marriage solemnized by him, or in such meeting, and of all facts relative to the marriage required to be recorded by section one of chapter forty-six.

He shall also return each certificate issued under section twenty-eight no later than the tenth day of the month following each month in which marriages are solemnized by him to the clerk or registrar who issued the same. Each certificate and copy so returned shall contain a statement giving the place and date of marriage, attested by the signature of the person who solemnized the same, or of said secretary of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is or of said leader of an Ethical Culture Society, or of said duly ordained priest or minister of the Buddhist religion, or Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion, or of said clerk or keeper of the records of a Friends or Quaker Monthly Meeting or any person authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usage of any other church or religious organization which shall have complied with the provisions of the second paragraph of section thirty-eight.

The person who solemnized the marriage shall add the title of the office by virtue of which the marriage was solemnized, as "justice of the peace", "minister of the gospel", "clergyman", "priest", "rabbi", "authorized representative of a Spiritual Assembly", leader of an Ethical Culture Society", or "duly ordained priest or minister of the Buddhist religion", or "Imam of the Orthodox Islamic religion", or other appropriate title, and his residence. All certificates or copies so returned shall be recorded by the clerk or registrar receiving them.

Part II: Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations - Title III: Domestic Relations - Chapter 207: Marriage

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