Requirements for the Couple
- Min. Age of Couple:
- Age 18, Under 18 Guardian Consent
- Not Required
- Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
- First Cousins
- Marriage Equality:
Massachusetts sets the legal age of consent for marriage at 18 years old. All minors looking to get married in the state must produce the written consent of a living parent or legal guardian to the relevant county court for any exception to be made.
Traditionally home to a sizable LGBTQ community, Massachusetts continues to welcome same sex marriages, whether between residents or those from out of state or even country. However, any and all unions between descendants, siblings or relatives any closer in blood than first cousins are strictly prohibited in the state.
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 207 § 1-2
Section 1. No man shall marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, stepmother, grandfather's wife, grandson's wife, wife's mother, wife's grandmother, wife's daughter, wife's granddaughter, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister or mother's sister.
Section 2. No woman shall marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, stepfather, grandmother's husband, daughter's husband, granddaughter's husband, husband's grandfather, husband's son, husband's grandson, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother or mother's brother.
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 207 § 24: Intention of marriage; nonage minors; receiving of notice prohibited
The clerk or registrar shall not, except as provided in the following section, receive a notice of the intention of marriage of a person under eighteen.
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 207 § 25: Nonage minors; authorization of marriage
The probate court for the county where, or a district court within the judicial district of which, a minor under the age specified in the preceding section resides may, after hearing, make an order allowing the marriage of such minor, if the parents or surviving parent of such minor, or, if only one such parent resides in the commonwealth, that parent, or, if neither such parent is alive and resident thereof, or if the parent or parents qualified as aforesaid to consent are disqualified as hereinafter provided, a legal guardian with custody of the person of such minor has consented to such order. If a parent has deserted his family, or if found to be incapacitated by reason of mental illness and incapable of consent, or if found unfit under the provisions of section five of chapter two hundred and one to have custody of such minor, it shall not be necessary to obtain his consent to such order. If a parent whose consent would be required if living in the commonwealth lives outside thereof and the address of such parent is known, such notice of the proceedings shall be given him as the probate or district court may order. Said court may also after hearing make such order in the case of a person whose age is alleged to exceed that specified in the preceding section, but who is unable to produce an official record of birth, whereby the reasonable doubt of the clerk or registrar, as exercised under section thirty-five, may be removed. Upon receipt of a certified copy of such order by the clerk or registrar of the town where such minor resides, he shall receive the notice required by law and issue a certificate as in other cases.
Marriage License Requirements
- Who Picks Up License:
- The Couple
- Where License is Valid:
- County of Issuance
- Marriage License Pick-Up:
- In Person Only
- Cost of License:
- Varies by County
- Accepted I.D. Types:
- Birth Certificate, Passport
- Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
- Blood Test Required:
Prospective couples must personally present themselves before a town clerk and fill out, under oath, applications furnished by the Massachusetts state registrar of vital records and statistics. Exceptions can be made in cases where one person is sick and procures an affidavit from a registered physician, and if either or both parties are in the armed forces, or incarcerated.
While a marriage license application is part of the public record, a second form with the couples’ social security numbers and current addresses will be forwarded to the state registrar. Couples may be asked to produce birth certificates and passports to prove their identity, although neither divorce documents nor blood tests will be required.
The fee for a marriage license varies by county. The state of Massachusetts requires a three-day grace period between application date and ceremony.
Mass. Gen. Law ch. 207 § 20: Intention of marriage; written notice; oath
The clerk shall require written notice of intention of marriage, on forms furnished by the state registrar of vital records and statistics, containing such information as is required by law and also a statement of absence of any legal impediment to the marriage, to be given before such town clerk under oath by both of the parties to the intended marriage; provided, that if a registered physician makes affidavit to the satisfaction of the town clerk that a party is unable, by reason of illness, to appear, such notice may be given on behalf of such party, by his or her parent or legal guardian, or, in case there is no parent or legal guardian competent to act, or by the other party. Said forms containing the parties' written notice of intent to marry shall constitute a public record. In addition to such forms, the town clerk shall also require the parties to furnish information required for a separate report to be transmitted to the state registrar, including the social security number and residence address of both parties and such other information as may be required by state or federal law. A copy of said report shall not be retained by the town clerk nor shall it constitute a public record. The state registrar may make the information contained in said separate report available to the IV–D agency as set forth in chapter 119A and to such other state or federal agencies as may be required by state or federal law. In case of persons, one or both of whom are in the armed forces, such notice may be given by either party, provided that one is domiciled within the commonwealth. In the case of persons, one of whom is incarcerated in a county house of correction, or a state correctional facility, such notice shall be given by either party to the intended marriage. The oath or affirmation to such notice shall be to the truth of all the statements contained therein whereof the party subscribing the same could have knowledge, and may be given before the town clerk or before a regularly employed clerk in his office designated by him in writing and made a matter of record in the office. No fee shall be charged for administering such oath or affirmation. In towns having an assistant town clerk, he may administer the oath.
Marriage License Facts
- ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
- Mandatory Waiting Period:
- 3 Days
- License Valid For:
- 60 Days
- License Must Be Submitted:
- By Expiration
The clerk who issues the marriage certificate will take care to mark both the date and its ultimate expiry date before signing it. It will be valid for a period of 60 days, and only in the city or county in which it was issued. It’s the couple’s responsibility to deliver the license to the minister or magistrate tasked with performing the wedding ceremony, and that person’s job to return the completed documents within the prescribed expiration period in order for the marriage to be deemed valid and legally binding.
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 207 § 19: Intention of marriage; situs; time; fees.
Persons intending to be joined in marriage in the commonwealth shall, not less than three days before their marriage, jointly cause notice of their intention to be filed in the office of the clerk or registrar of any city or town in the commonwealth, and pay the fee provided by clause (42) of section thirty-four of chapter two hundred and sixty-two. In computing the three day period specified in this section and in determining the third day referred to in section twenty-eight, Sundays and holidays shall be counted.
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 207 § 28: Certificate of intention of marriage; delivery; time
On or after the third day from the filing of notice of intention of marriage, except as otherwise provided, but not in any event later than sixty days after such filing, the clerk or registrar shall deliver to the parties a certificate signed by him, specifying the date when notice was filed with him and all facts relative to the marriage which are required by law to be ascertained and recorded, except those relative to the person by whom the marriage is to be solemnized. Such certificate shall be delivered to the minister or magistrate before whom the marriage is to be contracted, before he proceeds to solemnize the same. If such certificate is not sooner used, it shall be returned to the office issuing it within sixty days after the date when notice of intention of marriage was filed.
Requirements for the Minister
- Min. Age of Minister:
- Age 18
- Not Required
- Document(s) Required:
- Ordination Credential and Letter of Good Standing
- Online Ordination Recognized:
- Relevant Office of Registration:
- Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
- Before the Ceremony
- Minister I.D. # Issued:
The state of Massachusetts lists in great details all the religious and civil representatives capable of solemnizing marriages in the state. This includes all ordained ministers and deacons of the gospel, cantors and rabbis, inams; Buddhist priests, representatives of a Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is or the Friends or Quaker Society; as well as justices, clerks and registrars, or leaders of the Ethical Culture Society.
Amongst this list falls ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church, who are recognized as religious actors.
That being said, all ministers are required to register with the secretary of state, and in doing so be asked to produce both their ordination credentials and a letter of good standing, available in the online catalog on our website, in order to obtain a certificate of validation that will then be attached to the marriage certificate. This will cost the minister between $20-25 depending on whether the application is submitted electronically or by hand. It can even be done after the ceremony in certain cases.
M.G.L. c. 207, § 38
Section 38: Solemnization of marriage; situs; persons authorized
Section 38. 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.
Mass. Gen. Law ch. 207 § 39: Solemnization of marriage; 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 the secretary of $25 for applications delivered by mail, facsimile or hand or $20 for applications submitted electronically, shall issue to said person a certificate of such designation. Such certificate shall expire upon completion of such solemnization.
Wedding Ceremony Requirements
- Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
- Minister Required to be Present:
- Number of Witnesses Required:
- Min. Age of Witnesses:
- Couple's Consent Required:
- Pronouncement Required:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not recognize any marriage ceremony conducted by proxy, which basically means both members of the couple and the minister must be present at the wedding. While no witnesses are required, each party in the couple must solemnly declare their intent to take the other as a spouse, a declaration the minister must ultimately pronounce formally.
- Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
- Church/Ordaining Body:
- Universal Life Church Ministries
- Address of Church:
- Minister's Home Address
Once the ceremony is complete, it’s the minister’s job to fill out the relevant section of the marriage certificate that requires their name, title, ordaining body (Universal Life Church Ministries) and home address, and to ensure that both persons in the couple have filled out their own information completely and correctly.
It’s also the minister’s job to ensure that the marriage certificate is returned to the original county clerk where it was issued before the 60-day expiration date.