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  • Writer's pictureZach Michaud

Getting Hitched in New England: Navigating Marriage Laws in New Hampshire and Vermont

This is part two in a series about useful information about the legal requirements surrounding your wedding ceremony. If you stumbled across this blog, it means you are likely engaged. Congratulations! Additionally, you are planning to have your wedding ceremony somewhere in New England because either you live here or want a destination wedding or elopement that only the natural beauty that New England can provide. What do you know, I am a wedding Celebrant looking to officiate ceremonies that I custom create with couples in the New England area. 


To recap the first post, this is a resource for wedding couples making sure they dot their i’s and cross their t’s when it comes to all of the important details pertaining to the marriage license. Your marriage license is a vital record and there can be penalties for you or your officiant if you end up violating any of the laws that regulate this important legal document. We don’t want that, so read on!


Having lived on the west coast for the last 17 years, I had to review all of this information myself upon my move back. I thought I would share what I found here. This post will focus on New Hampshire and Vermont. Look for Maine and Massachusetts here and Connecticut and Rhode Island here. I will attempt to keep all of the information for each state in as similar an order as possible to make navigation easy. Let me know if I left out any information you were looking for!


NEW HAMPSHIRE



I live about 30 minutes from the New Hampshire border, so I really hope to book some wonderfully rustic, dreamy farmhouse, or lakeside mountainy weddings in the Live Free or Die state. I was very intrigued to find out what the laws and regulations were around weddings in a state that is famous for not liking laws and regulations. New Hampshire does not have a state government page where I could easily find all of this information in one place. Therefore, I used the City of Manchester’s page. Here is what I found.


How/Where to Obtain License: Both marriers must appear together at ANY Town Clerk’s office within the state to fill out your Marriage License Application. You do not have to visit the town or city office that you live in and you may marry in any other city or town within the state.


What to Bring: Because you must be 18, proof of age (driver's license, passport, certified birth certificate), photo ID (driver's license or passport), if either party was married previously, a certified copy of the document ending their most recent marriage is required. Documents that are not in English must be accompanied by a translation that has been signed by the translator. A notary must witness the translator's signature. $50 fee.


Waiting Period: No waiting period.


License Expiration: Ninety days after filing intentions to marry.


Witness Requirements: No witnesses required!


Who Can Officiate: For details look here. Justice of the Peace commissioned in NH; any minister of the gospel in NH who has been ordained according to the usage of his or her denomination, who resides in NH and is in regular standing with the denomination (this would be your friends and family who get ordained online); any minister who resides outside of NH, but has a pastoral charge wholly or partly in NH, if the marriage is performed within their parish; any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the services of the religious body to which they belong and reside in NH, - after being licensed by the Secretary of State (unordained clergy + $5 Fee); any minister who resides out-of-state (this is me and also the best option for your friend or relative who gets ordained online and lives out-of-state) after being licensed by the Secretary of State (ordained minister or non-ordained minister + $25 Fee). A special license will be issued to perform one marriage only and it must be filed with the regular marriage license which the couple obtained from the town or city clerk. Lastly, an individual who resides outside of New Hampshire, who is authorized or licensed by law in their state of residence to perform marriages - after being licensed by the Secretary of State (special marriage officiant license + $85). Not sure why anyone would choose that last option.



VERMONT



Green mountains, forested valleys, lakes and rivers come to mind when I think about weddings in Vermont. But what does the law say about these weddings? Much of this information can be found here


How/Where to Obtain License: If you are at least 18 years old, one of you must appear at ANY Town Clerk’s office within the state to fill out your Intention of Marriage paperwork and be witnessed by the clerk signing the application. Both parties must sign, but only one needs to be witnessed signing. With your license, you can be married anywhere in the state.


What to Bring: Basic information about yourselves (names, towns of residence, places and dates of birth), you must also provide your parents’ names, including your mothers’ birth (maiden) names, and their places of birth. Certified copies of your birth certificates can supply most of this information. You will also be asked to provide the number of previous marriages and civil unions, and how and when they ended. Bring $80 for the fee.


Waiting Period: No waiting period!


License Expiration: Sixty days after obtaining license.


Witness Requirements: No witnesses required!


Who Can Officiate: A Supreme Court justice, a superior court judge, a district judge, a judge of probate, an assistant judge, a justice of the peace or an ordained or licensed member of the clergy residing in Vermont. A clergy person residing in an adjoining state or country can marry you if their church, temple, mosque, or other religious organization lies wholly or partly in Vermont. A clergy member residing in some other state or in Canada can marry you if he or she first obtains a special authorization from the probate court in the district where the marriage will take place (this would be me, but it seems unnecessarily complicated). Any person who is over the age of 18 may register with the Secretary of State to become a temporary officiant to a marriage (your friend or family member and ME because it is the easiest way to go). Registration form and $100 fee required, so be prepared to make that part of your payment to your out-of-state officiant.


What I have learned from these New England state rules so far is that in-state clergy want to protect their roles and/or local jurisdictions want to make a lot of money from registration and filing fees. It is unfortunately extra difficult to officiate a wedding in one of these states if you do not reside in that same state. Something to keep in mind if you decide to use a friend or family member to officiate your ceremony.


Any questions that you have about these or any other states in the series? If you are interested in chatting more about your wedding, I’m available for free 30-45 minute online consults. Contact me and I would love to chat with you and get your imagination revved up for what could be possible for your ceremony.

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