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What Are My Wedding Day Duties As The New Jersey Officiant?

As the officiant, you have two main duties on the wedding day. You need to:

 

  1. Conduct the Wedding Ceremony (Non-Legal Duty)
  2. Complete the Marriage License (Legal Duty)

 

 

So far, we have gone over how to prepare for a wedding ceremony in New Jersey. That is your important but non-legal duty as a wedding officiant. This page focuses on how to properly handle the New Jersey marriage license.

New Jersey Law prescribes clear guidelines on marriage license handling and return. When the couple receives their marriage license, it should be accompanied with further instructions as to how, where, when, and by whom the marriage license is to be returned.

Regardless, it is a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with this subject ahead of time.

 

Handling The New Jersey Marriage License

As the wedding officiant, it is your responsibility to handle the marriage license on the wedding day. Though this is a serious responsibility, it is an easy task to fulfill.

Our page How an Officiant Should Handle a Marriage License outlines clear guidelines on how you should handle the marriage license as a wedding professional. These guidelines apply to weddings generally, not just in New Jersey. They follow four simple steps:

ASK, CONFIRM, SIGN, RETURN

  1. Ask the Couple to Present their Marriage License
  2. Confirming that the Marriage License is Valid
  3. Complete and Sign the Marriage License
  4. Return the Marriage License to the Town Clerk

 

Follow the links for more general info on each step. Continue reading for information specific to New Jersey Marriage Licenses.

 

STEP 1ASK THE COUPLE TO PRESENT THE NEW JERSEY MARRIAGE LICENSE

We recommend that you ask this of the couple before the wedding. It would not be ideal for you to officiate the wedding only to find out afterwards that the couple left their marriage license at home.

The coupe will probably have a lot on their plates leading up to the wedding. We suggest that you contact the couple the day before the wedding just to remind them to bring the marriage license to the ceremony.

STEP 2CONFIRM THAT THE NEW JERSEY MARRIAGE LICENSE IS VALID

Before you put pen to paper you should confirm that the marriage license is still valid. The validity of a marriage license is governed by three laws that determine the marriage license waiting period, expiration, and return. For more information on what these terms mean, check out our page, Marriage License Waiting Period, Expiration, and Return.

In New Jersey, the marriage license waiting period, expiration, and return are as follows:

 

  • REQUIRED WITNESSES: Two Adults
  • WAITING PERIOD: 3 Days to Receive
  • EXPIRATION: 6 Months
  • RETURN: 5 Days from the Wedding

 

 

In New Jersey the couple must wait 3 days to receive their marriage license from when they file for their marriage license from the Town Clerk's office.

In New Jersey, the marriage license expires 6 months after issuance. When presented with the marriage license, your first task is to confirm that it has not been more than 6 months since the couple filed for their marriage license.

To correctly determine if the marriage license is currently valid, you need to subtract the waiting period from the marriage license expiration date and confirm that the wedding date is within that range.

 

STEP 3FILL OUT THE NEW JERSEY MARRIAGE LICENSE

Completing and signing the marriage license is your legal duty as the wedding officiant. Though this is a serious responsibiltiy, it is an easy task to fulfill.

Completing the marriage license simply involves filling out your portion of the license and signing it with the couple. In New Jersey, Two Adults are required to sign the marriage license.

If you have not filled out a marriage license before, you may be unsure how to fill out certain fields. We understand that you want to do everything correctly. Our How To Fill Out a Marriage License covers all the fields that may appear on the marriage license you will be completing.

Below we cover the four most common questions we get from our ministers regarding completing a marriage license. Keep in mind that marriage licenses in New Jersey may be formatted differently depending on which office issued the license. The license you will be completing may have any combination of these fields, or none at all.

  • OFFICIANT TITLE ON MARRIAGE LICENSE

    For officiant title, enter "Minister". You are a minister of American Marriage Ministries performing the duty of wedding officiant.
  • CHURCH NAME ON MARRIAGE LICENSE

    For church name, enter "American Marriage Ministries". Even if you are a member of another religious organization, for this specific wedding you are acting under the banner of American Marriage Ministries, so that is what you should put.
  • RELIGIOUS DENOMINATION ON MARRIAGE LICENSE

    For religious denomination, enter "Non-Denominational" unless you are conducting the wedding according to a specific religious tradition. If so, then enter that.
  • CEREMONY TYPE ON MARRIAGE LICENSE

    For ceremony type, enter "Religious". This is important. Even if you will be conducting a completely non-religious ceremony you still need to enter "Religious". The reason for this is that the designation "Religious" and "Civil" mean something different to the New Jersey Government. Civil is a designation for government officials. Everything else is considered religious, even if you include no religious references in the wedding.

STEP 4RETURN THE NEW JERSEY MARRIAGE LICENSE

 

After the marriage license is completed it must be returned to the Town Clerk. This is usually the responsibility of the couple though some states require this to be done by the minister.

Specific instructions on how to return the marriage license should be included with the marriage license when it is issued to the couple. If these instructions are not included with the marriage license, you can call the issuance office for further clarification.

Regardless of who returns the marriage license or by what method, it is important to return the completed marriage license to its issuance office as soon as possible.

New Jersey has a law specifying how soon the marriage license must be returned to the Town Clerk after it is completed. In New Jersey the completed marriage license must be returned within 5 days from the wedding to be in compliance with New Jersey Law.

As long as the completed marriage license is returned within 5 days from the wedding the marriage license will be filed and recorded in New Jersey.

Post Wedding Actions

If you have not done so already, you should record the wedding you just officiated with our AMM Wedding Helper and even share your wedding on the AMM Wedding Wall with our nationwide network of ministers.

NEW JERSEY OFFICIANT POST WEDDING DUTIES Learn more about the AMM Wedding Helper and post wedding officiating responsibilities by tapping the button above.

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