Vermont Wedding Laws
It is important to recognize that each state has distinct rules and regulations governing how weddings are conducted and officiated. We have put together a thorough analysis of the applicable law in the state of Vermont so that couples and the ministers who perform their ceremonies will understand what they must do to assure that a marriage is legally binding and cannot be disputed.
Vermont Marriage Requirements
In Vermont, the minimum age of consent to enter into a marital agreement is 18 years old. A minor who is 16 or 17 years old may be married with the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Persons who are under guardianship or deemed mentally unfit may not be married in Vermont. State law also prohibits the marriage of a person who has a living spouse from whom he or she is not divorced. Marriages between couples who are family members by blood are expressly prohibited.
It is not necessary that a person who is being married in Vermont be a resident of the state or a citizen of the United States. Same-sex couples may be wed in Vermont, and the state was among the first states in the country to recognize that all persons have the right to be married regardless of their sexual orientation.
Show Legal Excerpt+
18 V.S.A. § 5142 Persons not authorized to marry
The following persons are not authorized to marry, and a town clerk shall not knowingly issue a civil marriage license, when:
(1) either party is a person who has not attained majority, unless the town clerk has received in writing the consent of one of the parents of the minor, if there is a parent competent to act, or of the guardian of the minor;
(2) either party is under 16 years of age;
(3) either of the parties is mentally incapable of entering into marriage as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 514;
(4) either of the parties is under guardianship, without the written consent of the party's guardian;
(6) the parties are prohibited from marrying under 15 V.S.A. § 1a on account of consanguinity or affinity;
(7) either of the parties has a wife or husband living, as prohibited under 13 V.S.A. § 206 (bigamy).
How to Get a Vermont Marriage License
One or both persons who wish to be married must appear before a county clerk to apply for a marriage certificate. A government-issued photo ID is required to prove one’s identity. In every county, applicants must complete a form provided by the state registrar. The fee to apply is $60. On an application, individuals may identify themselves as “groom” and “bride.” Alternatively, individuals may identify themselves as “spouse.”
Couples do not need to have a blood test before being granted a marriage license. The state of Vermont does not require that individuals who have previously been married submit evidence that the prior marriage was dissolved.
A clerk will verify all of the information in an application prior to granting a couple a marriage license. Once issued, the license will be valid for 60 days; the license may not be used for a wedding ceremony that takes place more than 60 days after its issuance.
Show Legal Excerpt+
§ 5131. Issuance of civil marriage license; solemnization; return of civil marriage certificate; registration
(a)(1) Upon receipt of a completed application in a form prescribed by the State Registrar, which shall require both parties to sign the application certifying to the accuracy of the facts contained therein, a town clerk shall issue to a person a civil marriage license in the form prescribed by the State Registrar only if at least one party has signed the license in the presence of the clerk and shall enter thereon the names of the parties to the proposed marriage and fill out the form as far as practicable. The town clerk shall retain in the clerk's office a copy of the license until the marriage certificate is returned by the solemnizer.
(2) The application forms shall allow each party to a marriage to be designated "bride," "groom," or "spouse," as he or she chooses.
This worksheet may be destroyed after the marriage is registered.
(3) The license shall be issued by:
(A) the clerk of the incorporated town, city, or village where either party resides;
(B) the clerk of the county where an unorganized town or gore is situated, if both parties reside in an unorganized town or gore in that county, or if one party so resides and the other party resides in an unorganized town or gore in another county or outside the State; or
(C) by any town clerk in the State if neither party is a resident of the State.
(4)(A) Parties to a civil union certified in Vermont may elect to dissolve their civil union upon marrying one another but are not required to do so to form a civil marriage. The State Registrar shall clearly indicate this option on the civil marriage application form required by subdivision (2) of this subsection. If a couple elects this option, each party to the intended marriage shall sign a statement on the confidential portion of the civil marriage license and certificate form stating that he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to dissolve the civil union between the parties.
(B) Dissolution pursuant to this subdivision shall become effective upon solemnization of the marriage between the parties, and the parties shall not be required to file a petition for an uncontested dissolution with the Family Division of the Superior Court pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1206(d). A dissolution granted pursuant to this subdivision shall be exempt from fees provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1431(b)(2).
(b) A civil marriage license so issued shall be signed by both parties to the marriage and delivered by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, within 60 days from the date of issue, to a person authorized to solemnize marriages by section 5144 of this title. If the proposed marriage is not solemnized within 60 days from the date of issue, such license shall become void. After the person has solemnized the marriage, he or she shall fill out that part of the form on the license provided for his or her use, sign it, and certify to the occurrence and date of the marriage. Thereafter the document shall be known as a civil marriage certificate.
(c) Such certificate shall be returned within ten days to the office of the town clerk from which the license issued by the person solemnizing such marriage. The town clerk shall retain and file the original according to sections 5007 and 5008 of this title.
Applying For a Marriage License in Vermont
In contrast to other states, Vermont does not have a mandatory waiting period between the date that a license is issued and the date on which a couple may have a wedding ceremony. After a ceremony is performed, the officiant must return the completed marriage license to the county clerk’s office from which the license was obtained within 10 days.
A ceremony may be civil or religious. Even if a ceremony has no religious qualities, it shall be considered a religious ceremony if it is performed by a person who has been ordained by a religious organization such as the United Life Church.
Show Legal Excerpt+
18 V.S.A. § 5146 Penalty for solemnization without license or failure to return
A person who solemnizes a marriage without first obtaining of the parties the license required by law, or who fails to properly fill out the form thereon provided for his or her use and return the license and certificate of civil marriage to the clerk's office from which it was issued within 10 days from the date of the marriage, shall be fined not less than $10.00.
How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Vermont
Vermont requires that all ministers performing a marriage ceremony be at least 18 years old. The state has some restrictions on ministers who live in another state to serve as the officiant; they must send an application to the Probate Division of the Superior Court to get special authorization. An administrative fee is required, and a minister may expect that proof of ordination will be requested. This special requirement does not apply to individuals who reside in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or Quebec.
Show Legal Excerpt+
18 V.S.A. § 5144. Persons authorized to solemnize marriage
(a) Marriages may be solemnized by:
(1) a Supreme Court Justice, a Superior judge, a judge of Probate, an assistant judge, a justice of the peace, a magistrate, a Judicial Bureau hearing officer, or an individual who has registered as a temporary officiant with the Vermont Secretary of State pursuant to section 5144a of this title;
(2) a member of the clergy ordained, licensed, or otherwise regularly authorized by the published laws or discipline of the general conference, convention, or other authority of his or her faith or denomination who:
(A) resides in this State;
(B) resides in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or New York or in the adjacent province of Quebec, Canada, whose parish, church, temple, mosque, or other religious organization lies wholly or in part in this State; or
(C) resides in some other state of the United States or in Canada and whose parish, church, temple, mosque, or other religious organization lies wholly outside this State, provided he or she has first secured from the Probate Division of the Superior Court in the unit within which the marriage is to be solemnized a special authorization, authorizing him or her to certify the marriage if the Probate judge determines that the circumstances make the special authorization desirable.
Getting Married in Vermont
An express declaration of intent to marry must be included in a ceremony. Prior to its conclusion, the officiant must pronounce that the couple is wed.
Both the couple and the minister officiating the ceremony must be physically present. In Vermont, a wedding does not need to have witnesses.
Show Legal Excerpt+
18 V.S.A. § 5131
b) A civil marriage license so issued shall be signed by both parties to the marriage and delivered by one of the parties to the proposed marriage, within 60 days from the date of issue, to a person authorized to solemnize marriages by section 5144 of this title. If the proposed marriage is not solemnized within 60 days from the date of issue, such license shall become void. After the person has solemnized the marriage, he or she shall fill out that part of the form on the license provided for his or her use, sign it, and certify to the occurrence and date of the marriage. Thereafter the document shall be known as a civil marriage certificate.
Finalizing the Union
After a ceremony, the officiant must ensure that the completed marriage license is submitted to the county clerk’s office from which it was issued. A completed license will contain your title (“minister”) and the address of your church or ordaining body. If your ordaining body is the Universal Life Church Ministries, you should write your home address.