Columbia, Maryland Wedding Guide
Become a Wedding Officiant in Columbia as an AMM Ordained Minister. Learn more about getting ordained in Maryland, officiant training, wedding ceremony planning, and more.
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If you’re from Columbia MD, you already know that it’s one of the best places to live in Little America. This pocket of Maryland is renowned for its access to outdoor activities, its tradition of throwing fun festivals and, of course, its fabulous seafood. But it’s also one of the best towns to get married in the Mid-Atlantic for its great catering and historic wedding venues.
So, if you’re planning to get hitched in Columbia, we think you’re on the right track. But before you start getting into the nitty-gritty details of planning your wedding, you should take care of the legal to-do’s first. Here in our guide, we have everything you need to know about getting married in Howard County -- including how to get your officiant-of-choice ordained.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to the state of Maryland’s website, the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies:
“an official of a religious order (such as an ordained minister), the Clerk of the Circuit Court, a deputy clerk designated by the county administrative circuit court judge, a judge.”
If you do not fall into any of these categories, no sweat. You can get ordained with AMM to fall within the priest or minister category. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
The Maryland government does not license, register, or certify ministers or wedding officiants, so once you are ordained with us, you can legally perform weddings in the state.
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.
When it comes time to sign the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain it from the clerk’s office, but just be sure to double check that they have their valid marriage license on hand before you perform the ceremony.
After the ceremony, the person who performed the officiant must return the certificate of marriage, signed with the title of the authorized official who performs the marriage, to the clerk of the court issuing the license within five days to be recorded in the county or city records.
Now let’s turn our attention to the couple’s responsibilities.
To obtain your marriage license, make sure to fill out the updated marriage license application form. Once you’re finished, you can place it in the clerk’s office’s dropbox Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or mail it to:
Clerk of the Circuit Court for Howard County
6095 Marshalee Drive
Elkridge, MD 21075
Make sure to also include:
After you have received your actual marriage license in the mail, there is a 48-hour waiting period before you may hold your ceremony. Your wedding officiant will help you complete the license on the day of the ceremony and return it to the county clerk’s office to be filed.
Issuance Office: 6095 Marshalee Drive, Suite 120
Waiting Period: 48 hours
Expiration: 6 months
Return: By officiant within 5 days
For The Couple
When choosing your wedding date, remember to take into all the town activities that are planned, especially from spring through autumn. It’s best to avoid choosing on a date in which one of Columbia’s major concerts, festivals and charity races occurs, especially if your venue is in close proximity.
Speaking of venues, there are plenty to choose from in Columbia. Our top favorites are the beautiful Historic Oakland Mansion next to Wilde Lake Park, the modern and chic Merriweather Lakehouse, and the quaint Columbia Inn at Peralynna -- all of which are located right in town. But if you’re willing to drive a few miles, you can also access some great venues in Baltimore, like Martin’s West, which is perfect for a large gathering of people, the historic 1840s Plaza, which has one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the area, and the vintage-glam Grand Baltimore, located in downtown Baltimore.
If you’re coming in from out of town and want to save money on transportation, you can utilize the Howard Transit and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) bus routes that connect Columbia with Ellicott City, Washington and Baltimore. For getting around town on the cheap, there are also commuter routes. But if you want to get from point A to point B in a hurry, Lyft and Uber ride-sharing services are prevalent in town.
The summers in Columbia can be hot and humid, especially during July and August. In the fall, the area gets a lot of rain, followed by bright sunny days. Winter can be very cold, particularly in January and February, but is milder than New York or Boston. Snow is common in the winter, but it usually melts quickly. The best seasons for a wedding in Maryland are summer and fall. If you’re planning to choose an outdoor venue, it’s worth it to invest in wedding insurance in case of inclement weather.
Are internet ministers able to perform wedding ceremonies in Maryland?
Yes, those that have been ordained through online ministries can perform weddings in the state of Maryland.
Do I need to register my ministerial credentials with the state government?
No. Once you are signed up with AMM, you can start performing weddings in Maryland.
What are the minister’s responsibilities in Maryland?
Besides performing the ceremony, you are also responsible for returning the completed marriage license to the appropriate county clerk’s office within five days of the ceremony.
Can we obtain a marriage license in person at the county clerk’s office?
No. You (the couple) need to download a marriage license application online, print it off and fill it out correctly, and then either mail it in or drop it off at the county clerk’s office’s drop box.
How long is the marriage license valid for use in Maryland?
Once you have obtained the marriage license, you can host your ceremony anytime within the next six months before it expires.
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