Frequently Asked Questions

All people who marry in Massachusetts must possess a marriage license issued from a city or town in Massachusetts.  You may obtain your license from any city or town, and get married in any other city or town in the Commonwealth.  However, the only place your license will be on file is in the city or town from which you obtained the license.

How to obtain a License?

You must be 18 or older.  You must both appear in person at a City or Town Clerk’s office and file your Intentions to Marry.

The only exception is if one party is in the military or incarcerated.  You may contact a City or Town Clerk’s office to ascertain what to do in those instances.

You will be asked your name, address, date and place of birth, occupation, parents’ names and places of birth, number of marriage(s) and whether you are widowed or divorced.  You do not need to show divorce papers.  You swear under the pains and penalties of perjury that the information you provide is true.

You may obtain a license from any city or town and get married in any other city or town within the Commonwealth.  The license is valid for sixty (60) days from the date you filed your Intentions.

How much does it cost to get a license?

Fees vary as each town or city may set their own fee to file Intentions.  Generally it is between $10 and $35.

Is there a Waiting Period?

Yes.  There is a 3 day waiting period, not counting the day you file your Intentions.   For example, if you file on Monday you may pick it up on Thursday, and so forth.

Can you obtain a Waiver of Waiting Period?

Yes.  You may obtain a waiver after you have filed your Intentions by appearing at a Probate or District Court of the Commonwealth to have the license issued without delay.  You must have a reasonably valid reason to do so.  You will need to pay court filing fees.

Do you need a Blood or AIDS Test or a Medical Certificate?

No.  It is required by a Department of Public Health regulation that city and town clerks distribute to applicants an AIDS educational pamphlet entitled “If You’re Getting Married…Know the Facts About HIV”.

Do you need witnesses to get married?

No.  Only the authorized officiant who will be performing your ceremony will sign the marriage license and return it to the City or Town Clerk’s office from which you obtained the license.

Do you need to be a resident of Massachusetts or a U.S. citizen to get married in Massachusetts?


What are the procedures for same sex couples to marry in Massachusetts?

They are the same as for opposite sex couples.

For more information contact:

What if we are a same sex couple who want to marry and are residents of another state or citizens of another country?

Your marriage will only be considered to be legal in those countries where the full faith and credit of a marriage that occurred in Massachusetts is recognized, as with opposite sex couples.  Finally, as of June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that equal justice under the law must be granted to all citizens in terms of marriage in all 50 states, and is recognized as well by the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon and twenty other native tribes.  Foreign countries include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico (Mexico City, CA, AR, DF); Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England, Wales and Scotland) and Uruguay fully recognize same-sex marriage.   Other states or countries may have civil unions, domestic partner registrations, or some other form of recognition or rights, but it is not marriage. 

For more information contact:

Do we get a marriage certificate or proof of marriage from you?

No.  You may purchase a certified copy of your marriage license from the city or town from which you obtained the license.  The original license stays with the City or Town Clerk.  The certified copy will have a raised seal of the city or town proving it is a true copy.  Fees for certified copies vary by town or city.

Where may I go for additional information or assistance?

You may contact any city or town Clerk’s office in the Commonwealth.  They will be more than willing to answer your questions.

You may also contact:

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Department of Public Health
150 Mt. Vernon Street
Boston, MA 02125-3105
(617) 740-2600

Wedding Traditions

Bride on Groom's Left: This tradition traces back to Anglo-Saxon England where grooms would often have to defend their brides. She would stand to his left so that his sword arm was free.

Best Man Tradition: In ancient times, men sometimes captured women to make them their brides. A man would take along his strongest and most trusted friend to help him fight resistance from the woman's family. This friend, therefore, was considered the best man among his friends. In Anglo-Saxon England, the best man accompanied the groom up the aisle to help defend the bride.

Wedding Rings: The history is unclear but an article dating from an 1869 issue of Appleton's Journal of popular Literature, Science and Art, Edward J. Wood hypothesizes that the modern (as of 1869) use of wedding rings stems from the practices of ancient Hebrews as it was customary for the family of a prospective groom to give gifts to the potential bride and her family. It is generally assumed this is where the use of wedding rings evolved from. The wedding ring first came into use in Christian wedding ceremonies around 870 A.D. The tradition of wearing rings on the fourth finger of the left hand comes from ancient Greece when it was believed an artery from that particular finger led directly to the heart. Rings were almost always worn by brides only up to around 1940 when double ring ceremonies increased in the Second World War where use jumped from around 15% to 60%, which jumped to 70% after the Korean War. Today it is more common for each spouse to wear a ring.