Frequently Asked Questions
How do I go about getting a license?
Simply go to any city or town hall in Massachusetts. You are not required to go the town where you live. State law requires that both of you appear before the clerk to seek application. There is a three day waiting period before you can obtain the license. This license is valid in the State of Massachusetts for a period of sixty days from the filing date.
There is no longer a requirement for a blood test as part of the application process.
Does it always take three days?
Not always. A waiver of the three day waiting period may be applied for in the clerk’s office of the town hall. This application is then presented to the probate court of jurisdiction for approval. Be prepared to offer a reason for the waiver. Present the judgement to the town clerk, and the license will be released.
Do we need witnesses?
In Massachusetts, the officiant is considered sufficient witness. However, other witnesses may be chosen by the couple.
Can we choose, or write our vows?
Absolutely! The speaking of the marriage vow is the most sacred moment of your ceremony. It should reflect exactly who you are in relationship with your marriage partner, your values, your history, and your expectations for your future together. For some couples, it is important to put this personal thought into their vows.
Others wish to select from among pre-written vows that are equally as thoughtful and profound. I am happy to make a selection available to you. It is also most acceptable for one partner to select a vow that is different from the other partner’s. Whatever you decide, I will work with you to create a moment of perfection.
How long is the ceremony?
This varies, depending on the selection of readings, any music that may be part of the ceremony, the lighting of a unity candle, additional testimonials from family or friends, or blessings that are important to the couple. On average, ceremonies range from fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
It is not uncommon for couples to say: “Please, keep it simple”. In that instance, a perfect marriage ceremony can take place within ten to twelve minutes.
Is a rehearsal necessary?
If you are planning a simple, informal ceremony, no rehearsal is necessary. If it is a more formal event with several attendants, then a rehearsal is a good idea. Often, the function coordinator of a reception hall or hotel banquet room will provide this service. If you wish, I am happy to conduct a rehearsal for your wedding party. However, the fee is the same as the wedding itself.
What will you wear?
In most instances, I wear a black judicial robe. If the occasion is less formal, and you prefer that I wear a business suit, or casual attire, I am fine with that.
Neither one of us is religious. Can you create a wedding ceremony that respects our values?
Absolutely. Creating a wedding ceremony that reflects who you are is critical. I am happy to work with you in this regard.
Some of our family members are not happy that we are getting married by a Justice of the Peace, instead of a minister or priest. Can you help us with that?
Generally speaking, family members have to find a way to make peace with themselves on that issue. This is your wedding, your relationship, and must reflect your values. When family members hear that I had been an ordained priest for many years, often they take comfort in that. I am happy to chat with them informally in advance of the ceremony.
What happens to the license after the ceremony?
Following the ceremony, I take the license with me. I will complete the notations required and sign the document. It is then mailed back to the city or town of origin where it will be formally recorded. At that time you may obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate, for a nominal fee ($10. to $15.)
Will you provide a certificate of marriage at the time of the ceremony?
Following the ceremony, I will provide you with a certificate of marriage, suitable for framing, with my signature and seal that you will want to keep always. Serveral days following your ceremony, you will need to return to the town or city hall where you obtained your marriage license in order to request a certified copy of your marriage certificate. This document is necessary for any legal or governmental transactions.