Hannah and Kristie married on a farm in Massachusetts. 

 Photo: Love and Perry Photography

Massachusetts was the first state to successfully pass and instate a same-sex marriage law in 2004, and it has since become one of the most popular locales for gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot in. Thinking of getting hitched in the first marriage equality state? Here’s everything you need to know about getting it in writing:

Do I have to live in Massachusetts to get married there?

No. Any couple can get married as long as other qualifications are met.

Where can I apply for a marriage license?

Both of the intended must appear at a city or town hall and fill out an application form, a Notice of Intention of Marriage. An informational copy is available online, listing the information necessary and the materials you will need to bring.

Is a blood test required?


Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?

There is a three-day waiting period.

How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?

There is a three-day waiting period, although a wavier is possible.

Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?

The state law does not require a witness. However, the clergy and your religious doctrine may require another to be present.

How much is the marriage license application fee?

The fee varies, so specific information can be gathered from the city where you will be applying. A copy of the marriage certificate, after the marriage is registered, can be secured for between $5-$15.

How long is the marriage license valid for?

The license is valid for 60 days after the completion of the application form. (You’ll have 57 days after physically obtaining the license.)

Can I apply online for a marriage license?

The form in online, but both partners have to go to the courthouse.

What paper is required when I apply for my marriage license?

Proof of age is necessary, such as a passport, birth certificate, baptismal certificate, school record, immigration record, naturalization record, life insurance policy, employment certificate or a court record.

Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?

There are three options to perform the marriage ceremony: an in-state Justice of the Peace or clergy, an out-of-state clergy with special permission is granted by the governor, and specially designated “Justice of the Peace for a day” if special permission is granted by the governor.

If I don’t live in Massachusetts, will my marriage be recognized in my home state?
The marriage will be respected in some states, such as Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington D.C., Maryland and New Mexico. Rhode Island recognizes the marriage in certain situations. In New Jersey, Illinois and Delaware, the marriage will be respected as a civil union, and in California, Washington and Nevada, the marriage will be seen as a domestic partnership.

Is my Massachusetts gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Unfortunately, no it is not.

If I get legally married in Massachusetts, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?

Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond the state of Massachusetts, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized. Read our expert advice on how to legally protect your relationship and children.

Is a divorce decree required?

Yes. A divorce must be final at the time of marriage application. Depending on the municipal clerk, proof of divorce may be required.

How do I change my name?

The Notice of Intention marriage application also acts as a legal name change document. There will be questions asking about the new last name you will be taking. If you decide to change your name later, the usual process in the court is available.