How to get Ordained in Massachusetts to Officiate

Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.

Welcome to the marriage laws guide for Massachusetts. Officiating a wedding is an incredible honor, but as one might expect, presiding over this important ceremony also comes with plenty of responsibility. That's why we've created this page - to give both couples and ministers an idea of what will need to happen to make the big day a success. Below we'll cover how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and how to make sure the ceremony is legal in Massachusetts.

Here are the five basic steps to officiate a wedding:

  1. Getting Ordained in Massachusetts

    Getting ordained as a marriage officiant is a surprisingly simple process. Online ordination with the Universal Life Church is not only fast - it's completely free! Once you obtain your minister license, officiating a wedding is easy. In fact legally licensed ministers of the ULC perform tons of marriages in Massachusetts each year. Just click the button below to get started.

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in Massachusetts

    The first step is to contact the city clerk's office in the county where the wedding will be held. Call them up, explain that you are a minister planning to officiate a wedding, and inquire about what documents the officials will need to see from you. You may be asked to show any number of items to verify your ordination status. Be advised that these requirement can vary from county to county. Any materials or documents you might require are available in the Minister Store here on our website.

    Important note: Massachusetts requires all ministers to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth in order to officiate marriages, and out-of-state ministers have a separate registration process. Make sure to mention your residency status when you speak with the Secretary's office to complete the correct registration process.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. Massachusetts Wedding Officiant Requirements

    Once you've spoken with Massachusetts officials to determine what you need, simply place an order for those items through our website. Most of our ministers in Massachusetts decide to order a Classic Wedding Set and an Official Letter of Good Standing.

    The primary reason for obtaining these documents (aside from showing off to your friends, of course) is to provide proof of ordination to county marriage officials. However, having a certified copy of your ordination certificate on hand will also give some much-deserved peace of mind to the couple. We recommend order your materials well in advance of the ceremony to make sure they arrive on time.

  4. How to Get a Massachusetts Marriage License

    Massachusetts marriage licenses are issued by the city clerk's office. While it is the responsibility of the couple to obtain this license, a wedding minister should understand all the rules governing marriage licenses in Massachusetts and its individual counties. If, for example, the couple is planning to get a Middlesex County marriage license, the minister ought to do some research and see if there are any specific rules that apply only to Middlesex County.

    Massachusetts marriage licenses are valid for up to 60 days. However, the couple must wait a minimum of 3 days after receiving the license before a ceremony can legally be performed. After the wedding, the signed marriage license must be returned before the listed expiration date.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    Once the paperwork has been squared away, you're ready to perform the wedding! We realize this can be a daunting task, so don't hesitate to utilize the tools linked below. These specially-tailored resources provide information and tips on all aspects of performing a wedding ceremony. Created especially for ULC wedding officiants, they contain everything you'll need to craft the perfect ceremony.

  6. Signing the Marriage License in Massachusetts

    Now for the final and most important step! After performing the wedding, you and the couple must sign the marriage license. Some licenses have an "officiant" section; if this is the case, follow these pointers when filling it out: Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, list "Religious"; under denomination, write "Non-Denominational". If it ask for an address of ministry, list your personal ministry or home address. Do not put the address of ULC. Lastly, don't forget that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline!

Massachusetts Marriage Laws

State Flag Of Massachusetts

Marriage laws are governed by Chapter 207 of Title III of the state code. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Massachusetts; among those with authorization are ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant excerpt is displayed below:

Universal Citation: MA Gen L ch 207 § 19 (2019) Section 19. Persons intending to be joined in marriage in the commonwealth shall, not less than three days before their marriage, jointly cause notice of their intention to be filed in the office of the clerk or registrar of any city or town in the commonwealth, and pay the fee provided by clause (42) of section thirty-four of chapter two hundred and sixty-two. In computing the three day period specified in this section and in determining the third day referred to in section twenty-eight, Sundays and holidays shall be counted.

View the Massachusetts Statutes on the official government state website.

Is it Legal For You to Perform a Massachusetts Wedding?

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Want to Learn More about Ministry in Massachusetts?

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