How to Get Legally Married in Massachusetts and Plan Your MA Wedding

Plan your Bay State wedding right here.
Elizabeth Berry
by Elizabeth Berry
Updated Jul 28, 2021

Home to the Boston Red Sox, historic landmarks, and quaint small towns, the state of Massachusetts offers more wedding venues than the mainstream Boston Harbor and Cape Cod weddings may lead you to believe—although neither fall short in pleasing their customers. The growing Seaport and Financial districts in Boston have become hot spots for young couples to enjoy robust nightlife options. Further north, you'll hit beach towns including Rockport and Newburyport which may be the answer to your craving for a beach wedding if you don't want to drive over the bridge to Cape Cod, or take a ferry to the two islands: Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Don't rule out Western Mass, though, where Amherst, North Adams, and the Berkshires will win you over with their historic architecture, vast museums, and weekly cultural events.

Sold on a Massachusetts wedding? If so, head over to their .gov page to go through the FAQs regarding the marriage certificate process and familiarize yourself with how to obtain a marriage license in the state of MA. Read on to learn more about how to navigate the Massachusetts marriage license process.

How to Get Married in Massachusetts

Is there a waiting period to get married in Massachusetts?

The Bay State does have a three-day waiting period, which means you and your S.O. will have to wait a few days before you can pick up your marriage license at the clerk's office. Thankfully, there is plenty of site-seeing and leisurely activities to distract yourself with for these three days. However, you can also fill out a Marriage Without Delay form under the Probate and Family Court Department.

In addition to the waiting period, your marriage certificate is only valid for 60 days which means you have about two months to be married in the state of MA before the document expires. Once you and your partner are married, your officiant must sign the marriage license and return it to the town or City Clerk's Office before the 60-day period ends.

What are the legal requirements to get married in Massachusetts?

Under Massachusetts law, any two individuals older than 18 years of age can be married in MA. For couples 18 or younger, they will need to have parental consent from their parent or legal guardian or appear in front of their District Court hearing.

What's considered a common law marriage in Massachusetts?

The state of Massachusetts does not recognize a common-law marriage as a legal union between two parties.

Massachusetts Marriage License 101

What Do You Need to Get a Marriage License in Massachusetts?

The first step in the marriage license process is visiting your city or town clerk's office to inquire about your municipality's specific requirements and fill out a Marriage Intention Form. In order to complete this form, you will need to bring the following items to the clerk's office: a birth certificate, driver's license, or passport to prove your age, your Social Security Number, payment for the filing fee (which varies by city), and the name you are using after the wedding ceremony. If you do not indicate a name change on your marriage certificate, then you will have to file a name change petition in Massachusetts.

What does a Massachusetts Marriage License Cost?

MA no longer requires couples to complete a blood test as part of the application process. You will need to pay a fee for your marriage license; the price varies between towns ranging between $4 and $50. Consider this as another remember to contact your municipality of residence or choice to confirm the cost.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Marriage License in Massachusetts?

You must complete the marriage license application no more than 60 days before your wedding ceremony. There is a three-day waiting period after the license has been accepted.

Your officiant will also receive your marriage certificate 2 to 4 weeks after you apply for the license. After which they will file the license with your town clerk a maximum of 10 days before your marriage ceremony.

Can You Apply for a Marriage License Online in Massachusetts?

All marriage licenses must be obtained from your local town clerk's office. If this is not available for you and your partner, contact your local office for more information.

How Do You Get a Copy of Your Massachusetts Marriage License?

After you have applied for a marriage license and surpassed the waiting period, you will have to reach out to the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

Who Can Marry You in Massachusetts?

When it comes to who can marry you and your SO on the big day, there are multiple options. If you would like to be married by an in-state clergy member, you do not need to complete any extra steps unless the clergy member is not authorized to perform a marriage ceremony in the state of MA. If this is the case, they will need to complete a few extra forms and file a petition a minimum of 6 weeks before your wedding date.

If you want to be married by a Justice of the Peace, you need only contact your Town Clerk for more information about the process.

If you want to pull a Monica and Chandler and have a friend or family member officiate your wedding, the person of choice must fill out a 1-day designation application online or by mail. They can do this anytime between 6 months and 1 week before your wedding day and they do not have to be a resident in MA.

How to Plan a Massachusetts Wedding

The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for a Massachusetts Wedding

Hooray! You've learned about the marriage license process, now it's time for the fun stuff. The options are endless when it comes to which venue you can select. If you and your S.O. are night owls, consider a city wedding in Boston. If the city life is not your vibe, consider Lincoln or Northampton in the Berkshires as both are idyllic destinations. And you can't rule out a beach wedding when MA's beaches are available for weddings.

What to Look for in a Massachusetts Wedding Venue

When choosing your venue, it's all about location. The state of Massachusetts has a variety of venues from quaint inns in(n) smaller towns, to waterfront ballrooms in the city, or beachside venues. From fancier black-tie weddings to easy-breezy Cape Cod ceremonies, MA has your dream venue available at the click of a mouse.

How to Find a Massachusetts Wedding Vendor

From expensive to more affordable, there are plenty of local vendors to go around. The Knot has a helpful list here that is searchable via category and location. With a robust food scene that seems to create new food trends every month, Massachusetts vendors will serve classic seafood delights to apple cider donuts (regardless of season).

If you want to embellish your venue with seashells galore, fall foliage, or snow castles (again depending on the season), there are vendors at the ready, as well.

The Best Times of Year to Have a Massachusetts Wedding for Good Weather

Massachusetts is a part of New England, which means its weather forecast is quite unpredictable. That being said, summers can reach above 90 degrees (plus humidity) while winters can be frostier than ideal. A fall or spring wedding may be a safer bet.

All good things come in time, which just happens to be the case with a Massachusetts marriage license (and wedding).

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