How to Officiate Weddings in Providence
A Providence Wedding Guide for Ministers and Couples
If you’re a native, you’ve probably heard the saying that Rhode Island is so small, if you miss your exit on the interstate, you’ll end up in Massachusetts before you find another offramp. (Hardy har har.) But if you’re from out of town, don’t make the mistake of underestimating the amount of charm packed into this O.G. New England state.
Rhode Island is more than just clam cakes, Patriots fans the home of the Griffin family. Its capital, Providence, has been rated #1 on Travel and Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities” list and is one of Zagat’s hottest food cities. (Cue slow clap gif.)
So, whether you were born and raised in the Ocean State or you’re marrying a Rhode Islander, we think you’ll be pleased with the hoards of fabulous caterers and wide array of wedding venues found within this state’s 1,200 square miles. But before we get to the fun stuff, let’s get the legal to-do’s checked off, first.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to Providence County Clerk’s website, “Rhode Island accepts all ordained clergy and ministers, including those from online ministries.”
If you’re not already ordained, you can do so with us here at AMM. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
The officiant may be asked to provide verification that they are “in good standing with their ministry,” which we are happy to tell you that you are, as far as we’re concerned. You can call the county clerk’s office before you perform the ceremony to ask if they will require you to bring the certificate in person, which AMM will send to you for a small fee.
Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but can feel like a lot of pressure. You will appreciate our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
Rhode Island has a couple of extra rules to remember when filling out the marriage license, to make sure to take note.
It’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain the marriage license, but let them know to wait to fill it out until all three of you are together. City Hall strictly prohibits the use of white-out and requires that you use black ink to fill it out, so save your gel pens for another time.
It is the officiant’s responsibility to register the marriage license with the city or town clerk where the license was issued within 72 hours, so tie a string around your finger, set a reminder on your phone, or do whatever you have to do to remember to bring it in within three days of the ceremony. You don’t want to ruin the couple’s honeymoon!
After you drop off the completed license, your duties are complete and you are well within your rights to treat yourself to a craft beer and lobster roll (or a whole lobster for that matter) down at Rogue Island. Well done.
There are some particular rules the couple should know before they apply for their marriage license, so make sure to take some notes. (Your gel pens are acceptable for this part.)
If both applicants live in Rhode Island, they may apply for the license from the city/town clerk’s office of the residence of either applicant, and if only one applicant lives in Rhode Island, then they should apply for the license from the city/town clerk’s office of the residence of that applicant. You can use the license anywhere in the state.
However, if neither applicant lives in Rhode Island, the marriage license must be obtained at the city or town clerk’s office where the ceremony will take place.
When it comes time to obtain your actual marriage license, both members of the couple will have to visit one of the city or town clerk’s office in person. The bureaucracy’s command post (City Hall) in Providence is located at 25 Dorrance Street. Head straight to room 311.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- Driver’s license, state-issued ID or passport
- Certified birth certificate if you have it
- $24 for the marriage license fee
- If you or your partner is divorced, a certified copy of the final decree of divorce or dissolution
There is no waiting period to get married in Rhode Island after you apply for your marriage license, so you can use it the very same day or up to three months after you make your trip to the county clerk’s office.
Issuance Office: City Hall in Providence
Waiting Period: None
Expiration: 90 days
Return: by Officiant
The Basics -- First of all, Little Roadie isn’t small, it’s fun-sized. Whether you want to get married in a chic loft in downtown Providence or tucked in one of the dozens of quaint New England villages, you’ll find there are so many great venues to choose from, it’s almost overwhelming.
You’ve probably visited the breathtaking botanical gardens of Roger Williams Park, home to 480 acres of stunning, lovingly maintained Victorian gardens just 15 minutes from Providence, but did you know it has three event venues? All the information is available here.
If you’d rather take advantage of the coast line, Rhode Island has 20 public beaches on its 40 miles coastline to choose from. This option is perfect for a couple that wants a casual ceremony in nature without paying a steep venue fee. All you need to do is get a permit from the appropriate city government’s office. The link to download Providence’s form is here.
But we’d be remiss not to mention the lovely Block Island, with its pristine nature and pristine streets (zero chain stores, can we get an amen?!) It’s also home to some legendary mansions and dozens of charming inns that are happy to host your special day. Plus, if you have friends and family spread out across New England, ferries connect New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
When choosing your wedding date, just make sure not to pick the same day as one of the major annual events, such as the Rhode Island Film Festival in August, America’s oldest fourth of July parade in in East Bay, or the Annual Pride Parade, which usually falls on a Saturday in June. You don’t want to end up competing for parking spaces, or attention. (Some of these queens’ get ups would give any bride a run for her money.)
Transportation -- If you’re staying within the city, public transportation works well. However, if you’re venturing outside, it is sporadic and sometimes downright non-existent. If you’re coming in from out of town and would like to avoid renting a car, you can utilize RIPTA (their route finder is available here) and keep Lyft and Uber in your back pocket in case.
Weather -- The best weather in Rhode Island falls between June and August, and no coincidence, this is also peak wedding season. Hotel rates are higher and crowds are in full force. An early fall wedding might get you a better venue rental deal if you’re not willing to pony up for the premium prices, but if you’re planning on having an outdoor affair, we honestly don’t think you’ll regret shelling out for a summer wedding date.
Winters here are not for the faint of heart. Between December and February, the average temperature is around 32 degrees and snow is part of the deal. So unless you are comfortable risking a snow storm, we recommend waiting until spring rolls around to schedule your special day. But if you are determined to have a white wedding, you have our true respect.