Massachusetts State Capitol Building

Massachusetts Wedding Laws

Written and updated for precision by the Massachusetts marriage law research team at GetOrdained™ on

Massachusetts has a long and rich history of traditions that are important to both the state and the country as a whole. In addition to major cultural and technological firsts such as telephone calls, subway train cars and basketball, the state has one of the lowest rates of divorce. That’s good news for couples looking to formally begin a life together, whether they’re Bay Staters or not. At the Universal Life Church, we know it is important that officiants understand the key details of state law related to marriage. We have sifted through state rules and regulations to help officiants and couples alike ensure that the wedding is compliant and legally binding.

Getting Married in Massachusetts

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:
Number of Witnesses Required:
Min. Age of Witnesses:
Couple's Consent Required:
Pronouncement Required:

Virtual or proxy weddings are not recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Both applicants as well as the officiant are required to be present at the ceremony. The state does not require the presence of witnesses; however, both partners must solemnly affirm their intent and consent to take the other person as a spouse. The officiant must pronounce this declaration formally as part of the wedding.

Massachusetts Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18, Under 18 Guardian Consent
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:

In Massachusetts, the minimum age is 18 for legal consent to marry. Anyone under this age who wants to marry must have the written approval of a living parent or other legal guardian and submit to the applicable county court.

Massachusetts is home to many persons who are LGBTQ and has recognized same-sex marriages between state residents as well as domestic and foreign visitors. The state restricts union between certain family relationships, including parents, offspring, siblings and other relatives who are closer than first cousins by blood.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Massachusetts

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:

Massachusetts is quite clear and specific on who can solemnize marriages within its borders:

Justices, clerks or registrars

Ordained ministers and deacons, including cantors, rabbis, imams, priests and other religious or spiritual leaders

Representatives of spiritual assemblies

Leaders within the Ethical Culture Society

Persons ordained online by the Universal Life Church are considered religious actors under state law.

All would-be officiants in Massachusetts must register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and may be asked to provide their ordination credentials as well as a letter of good standing. Out-of-state ministers may be asked to complete a separate registration procedure. These documents are available in our online catalog and they are required for securing a certificate of validation to be included with the marriage certificate. The cost for this documentation will be between $20 and $25 depending on the method of application submission. This information may be submitted after the wedding in some cases.

Applying For a Marriage License in Massachusetts

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
3 Days
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
By Expiration

It is the responsibility of the clerk issuing the certificate to make note of the issuance and expiration dates before adding a signature. The license will be valid for up to 60 days in the jurisdiction where it was granted. The engaged partners are responsible for submitting the license to the minister or officiant who will perform the ceremony. The minister must then submit all completed documents within the 60 days for the marriage to be considered valid and compliant.

How to Get a Massachusetts Marriage License

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:

To secure a marriage license, couples must visit a town clerk and complete forms provided by the state’s registrar of vital records and statistics. Information must be given under oath. Exceptions to this rule may be allowed when one applicant is sick and unable to visit as long as an affidavit from a licensed doctor is provided. Active members of the military or incarcerated applicants may also be considered exempt from this rule.

Marriage license applications are viewed as public documents, but a second document that includes Social Security numbers and home addresses will be routed to the registrar of the state. Applicants may be expected to provide birth certificates or passports as proof of identity; however, neither proof of divorce nor blood tests are required by the state.

The cost of a marriage license varies from county to county. The Bay State mandates a minimum waiting period of three days between issuing the license and the date of the wedding.

Finalizing the Union

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

After the wedding ceremony, it’s your responsibility to complete the marriage certificate with your pertinent info, including name, title, body of ordination (the Universal Life Church Ministries, in this case) and location of residence. You also need to make sure that the couple has completed their sections of the certificate properly. As the officiating minister, you must ensure that the completed marriage certificate is returned to the county clerk office of issuance before the 60-day period transpires.

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