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Maryland Wedding Laws

Maryland is less than 10,500 square miles, but so much is packed into this relatively small area that it is nicknamed "America in Miniature." So much variety means that Maryland offers many unique wedding venues to residents and visitors alike. To avoid any administrative mishaps and make sure your marriage receives legal recognition, follow this step-by-step guide to marriage in Maryland.

Getting Married in Maryland

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

While some religious organizations, such as the Society of Friends, may require witnesses to the wedding ceremony, Maryland law does not. However, it does require that both you and your intended spouse be physically present for the ceremony, as well as the officiant presiding over it. For the marriage to be formally solemnized and legally binding, both you and your significant other must take one another as spouses through a formal declaration. Otherwise, you may plan the ceremony according to established customs and traditions, as well as your own personal preferences.

Maryland Marriage Requirements

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

As long as you comply with the other requirements, there are no residency requirements to get married in Maryland, and same-sex couples are welcome. However, age requirements for a marriage license in Maryland can be a little confusing because they are extremely detailed. If you and your spouse-to-be are both over the age of 18, the following stipulations regarding age do not apply to you.

Under no circumstances can a minor under the age of 15 get married in Maryland. A 15-year-old who is pregnant or has given birth can get married with certification from a licensed health care provider affirming that fact, plus the consent of a parent or guardian. A minor aged 16 or 17 may get married with either the consent of a guardian or certification of pregnancy or birth from a health care provider but does not require both.

Maryland also does not allow any individual to marry a close family member, including one's own child, parent, sibling, grandparent, stepparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle. There are criminal penalties not only for those who enter into such a union but also for those who solemnize it.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Maryland

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

Maryland allows a number of officials to solemnize weddings in the state, including an official authorized by a religious body according to its rules and customs. Civil officials who can perform weddings in Maryland include clerks and their deputies, as well as judges. However, anyone who solemnizes a wedding in Maryland must be at least 18 years old according to state law.

A minister ordained online by Universal Life Church to perform your wedding may want to bring the relevant credentials to the issuing office when returning the completed marriage license and certificate because the clerk may ask to see them. While it does not affect the ceremony you plan, it is interesting to note that Maryland law regards ULC ministers as religious actors regardless of personal beliefs. Neither the officiant's gender nor residence has any bearing on his or her qualification.

Applying For a Marriage License in Maryland

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

When you are issued your marriage license, it will come with a marriage certificate attached to it. Within five days after the ceremony takes place, both the original license and the completed certificate must be returned to the same county clerk who issued them. This is the responsibility of the minister who performs the ceremony.

Once your marriage license has been issued, it typically does not become effective until the following calendar day at precisely 6 a.m. However, under certain circumstances, it may be possible for a circuit court judge to waive that waiting period or at least shorten it. You or your spouse-to-be must be either a member of the United States Armed Forces or a resident of Maryland, and you must be able to show a good cause. Once the license becomes valid, it remains so for six months.

How to Get a Maryland Marriage License

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

Typically, you and your spouse will present yourselves in person to the clerk's office in the county where you reside to fill out the application form, although under certain circumstances the state may only process marriage licenses remotely. In either case, the fee to obtain your marriage license varies by county. The base fee is only $10, but some counties add more fees to benefit domestic violence programs and shelters within their jurisdiction. The additional fees can range from $25 to $75.

You and your spouse-to-be will have to swear to the information that you provide in your marriage license application. The clerk will ask you whether you are related by blood or marriage and to confirm the date and place of a divorce or the death of a previous spouse, if applicable. Otherwise, you will both be asked to furnish your Social Security numbers, full names, ages, and place of residence to complete the application.

Finalizing the Union

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

The officiant must fill out the marriage certificate and return it to the clerk's office that issued it in a timely manner to avoid a fine. "Timely" in this instance means either within five days after the wedding or before the license expires in six months. There is a second copy of the marriage certificate, which the officiant must return to you and your new spouse. The minister must fill out both copies with all the information requested, including his or her name and title, and sign them.