Maryland Marriage Laws

Maryland's marriage laws are thankfully quite straightforward, although there are a few unique stipulations couples and ministers should consider before participating in a ceremony on its soil. Following our step-by-step guide, compiled and presented with all relevant legal excerpts, is the perfect way to avoid any administrative mishaps and secure a marriage that is legally recognized in Maryland.

Requirements for the Couple

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

Individuals in the state of Maryland must be at least 18 years old to marry. Minors at least 16 years of age must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian or, failing that, a certificate from a licensed doctor, assistant or nurse proving the woman seeking to marry is either pregnant or has already given birth. All 15-year-olds must fulfill both requirements. Minors under 15 cannot marry under any circumstances.

Maryland welcomes sex same couples and non-state residents alike.

However, all individuals, regardless of age or sexual orientation, are prohibited from marrying their grandparents, parents, children, siblings or grandchildren, or their stepparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews – or solemnize any relationship deemed closer than first cousins. Doing so may result in a misdemeanor and a $500 fine.

Marriage License Requirements

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
County of Issuance
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person/By Mail
Cost of License:
$10 + Filing Fee
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
No
Blood Test Required:
No

In order to obtain a marriage license in Maryland, at least one party in the couple must present themselves at the office of the county clerk in which they reside to fill out an application form. The clerk will demand each individual’s full name, place of residence, age, marital status (and, if applicable, the date and place of any divorce or spousal death) and ask whether the parties are related by blood or marriage. The application will have to be sworn on, and social security numbers provided.

In the event that one party lives in another county and can’t be present, a sworn affidavit containing all relevant information will need to be presented to the clerk instead.

Please note that marriage licenses are currently being processed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The basic fee for a marriage license in Maryland is $10, although different counties may dole out additional fees – anywhere from $25 to $75 extra – for battered spouse shelters and domestic violence programs.

Marriage License Facts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
6 am of Second Day After Issuance
License Valid For:
6 Months
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 5 Days of Ceremony

Maryland marriage licenses will not be effective until 6 am of the second calendar day after issuance. Circuit court judges may either shorten or strike that waiting period completely if given good cause, in those cases where at least one person in the couple is either a Maryland resident or a member of the US armed forces.

The license, once issued, is valid for 6 months. The marriage certificate attached to it, meanwhile, must be returned to the same county clerk within 5 days of the ceremony.

Requirements for the Minister

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by County
Online Ordination Recognized:
Yes
Relevant Office of Registration:
Circuit Court Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
After the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

The list of officials authorized to solemnize weddings in the state of Maryland includes judges, clerks and deputy clerks, as well as any official of a religious body authorized by the rules and customs of said order to do so.

Ministers ordained online by the Universal Life Church are legally sanctioned ‘religious’ actors regardless of their gender or personal beliefs. They also happen to adhere to Maryland’s 18-year-old age requirement for officiants. That being said, ULC ministers may be asked to submit relevant credentials to the circuit court clerk upon returning the completed marriage license.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
None
Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

The state of Maryland will not dictate the particular format of any ceremony, leaving it to couples and ministers to plan these according to their personal wishes and customs.

Just bear in mind that both the couple and the minister must be physically present during the ceremony. And while no witnesses are required, (except in the case of a Society of Friends celebration, which will require at least two overseers), each person must make a formal declaration taking the other as their spouse, in order for the marriage to be formally solemnized.

Final Steps

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

Once the ceremony is complete and the marriage solemnized, the minister must take great care to fill out their own name and title and sign both copies of the marriage certificate. One copy should be remitted to the newlyweds, while the other must be returned along with the original license to the same clerk who originally issued it.

Any marriage officiant who fails to return the marriage certificate within five days of the wedding ceremony, or before the 6-month expiration, may be fined by the court - so do not delay!