Marriage Licensing

All persons who marry in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The age requirement in Massachusetts is 18 years of age and can only be waived with a court order. 

To apply for a marriage license, both parties must appear together to complete the Marriage Intention, unless:

  • Either party is in the military and unable to appear and either party is a resident of Massachusetts.
  • Either party is ill and the illness is confirmed in writing by a physician.
  • Either party is incarcerated in a County or State House of Corrections.

The fee for filing Marriage Intentions in Norfolk is $40.00.

The process for obtaining a marriage license is:

  1. Both parties (if able) appear at the Town Clerk's office to complete the Marriage Intention.
  2. There is a 3-day waiting period before the license can be issued. This can only be waived with a court order.
  3. The marriage license is valid for 60 days and must be used within that time period or returned to the Town Clerk’s office where it was issued.
  4. The member of the clergy or justice of the peace who performs the ceremony must sign the license and return it to the Town Clerk’s office where it was issued.

Who can conduct my wedding in Massachusetts?

There are 4 primary groups of people who can officiate at weddings in Massachusetts. Each group needs to meet different requirements to get licensed.

  1. In-state Clergy Member — If you’d like to be married by a member of the clergy who lives in Massachusetts, they are most likely already authorized to perform the ceremony. However, if they haven’t performed a marriage in the state before, they’ll need to file 3 forms with the Commissions Section of the Public Records Division.
  2. In-state Justice of the Peace — Justices of the Peace are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, and some are authorized to perform marriages. Contact your city or town clerk for more information if you’d like to be married by a Justice of the Peace.
  3. Out-of-state Clergy Member or Justice of the Peace — Clergy members or Justices of the Peace who are authorized in other states to perform marriages have to file the non-resident, out-of-state clergy petition to get a certificate to officiate your ceremony. They shouldn’t file the application more than 6 weeks before your wedding day. Once your officiant-to-be gets the certificate — usually 2–4 weeks after applying — they have to file it with the city or town clerk that will issue your marriage license within 10 days of the ceremony.
  4. Anyone with a 1-day Designation — If you want a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, they can apply for a 1-day designation. They must fill out an application online or by mail from 6 months to 1 week before your wedding date. There is no residency requirement for 1-day designations.

To obtain forms necessary to obtain a 1 day designation or out of state Clergy please see the Mass.gov website.

Once the license has been completed and returned, it will be filed with the State Registry of Vital Records and will be on file in the Town Clerk's office where it was issued. Certified copies of marriage certificates are available upon request for a fee of $10.00 per copy.

LEGAL IMPEDIMENTS TO MARRIAGE

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, father's sister or mother's sister. (MGL Chapter 207, Section 1.)

No woman shall marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, 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. MGL Chapter 207, Section 2.)

A marriage contracted while either party has a former wife or husband (except as provided in Section 6 of 207 and in Chapter 208 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
A marriage of a person under the age of eighteen years, except as provided in Chapter 207, Section 25 of the Massachusetts General Laws is prohibited.