Massachusetts law does not require that witnesses be present at your ceremony.
Sorry, but no. Massachusetts law prohibits me from legally marrying you without a license in hand.
No, you are free to create your own ceremony any way you choose. The only necessary requirement is that you must be legally declared married by your Officiant.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is your Special Day and you can create your ceremony by working with your Officiant.
The ONLY required part of the ceremony is the Pronouncement of Marriage. Under Massachusetts law, you must be pronounced married by your Officiant in order for the marriage to be legal. Every other part of the ceremony is optional.
When you select your Justice of the Peace, make sure you choose one who will work closely with you and design a ceremony that best reflects who you are as a couple and a ceremony that you are comfortable with. For example, if you wish to write your own vows make sure the Justice you choose is receptive to that. Likewise, if you are not comfortable with speaking in front of an audience, make sure your Officiant understands that and keeps your verbage to a minimum. If you follow this advice, your ceremony will flow smoothly.
This will vary according to what a couple wishes to include in their ceremony. This can include readings, traditions, and music. The typical ceremony however, will be 15 to 20 minutes in length.
If you are having a small, informal ceremony a rehearsal is not usually necessary. A rehearsal, however, is recommended for larger and more formal ceremonies.
For a simple civil ceremony, a Justice of the Peace may charge a fee of $100 to solemnize a marriage within the Justice’s home community or $150 if the ceremony is performed in any other municipality in the Commonwealth. Additional fees may be charged for prenuptial counseling, rehearsals, custom ceremonies and other special requests by the couple.
** Please note the Commonwealth allows Justices of the Peace to pass along any parking fees incurred which relate to officiating for your ceremony.
After the ceremony, I will complete the section of the license for the Officiant and return it to the City or Town Hall that issued it. After they record your marriage, you will be able to get a certified copy from them for a small fee. If you wish, I can provide you an unofficial wedding certificate which may be suitable for things such as hotel upgrades, etc.
When you fill out your application to get married, there is a designation that asks what your surname will be after marriage. If you are changing your name, that is where you indicate it. And if you’re not changing your name, you indicate there as well. Once you have been pronounced married, and the license is filed, your name is legally changed!
Then the fun part.
First, get an original Marriage Certificate from the City or Town Clerk that issued your Marriage License. Then start by calling Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and following the automated instructions. Or go to www.socialsecurity.gov.
You will also need your Marriage Certificate to update your Massachusetts driver’s license. This also requires a personal appearance at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
And don’t forget to notify credit card companies and banks, the Post Office, employers, schools, etc. And you will need to update your voter registration, insurance policies, mortgages and other loans.
One important note: Wait until after your honeymoon to update your passport which needs to match the name on your plane ticket.