Do you fantasize about holding a stunning seaside wedding overlooking mossy New England bluffs, complete with a picturesque lighthouse? Or perhaps your style is more a cozy barn affair with fairy lights, a rustic atmosphere, and the perfect dance floor. Either of these dream weddings (and more!) can become your reality if you’re planning to tie the knot in Maine.
But before you get to planning your venue, guest list, and wedding caterer, you’ll need to know how to acquire a marriage license. In this guide, we’ll answer all of your questions about obtaining a marriage license in Maine. Whether you’re a Maine local or planning a visit to make your dream wedding come true, read on for a comprehensive guide on Maine marriage licenses.
A marriage license allows you and your fiance to be legally wed in the state of your choice. It’s important to procure a marriage license in order to let the government know about potential future changes, such as:
On the day of the wedding, the marriage license must be signed by the couple, the officiant, and two witnesses.
The wedding officiant then sends the signed license to the local government office that issued the license. After a couple of weeks, the new couple will be sent an official marriage certificate, and their marriage becomes public record.
You want to be prepared before you head out and begin your application. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your application spot and realizing you forgot something vital.
So what information and documents might you need? For Maine, the requirements list is relatively short.
Documents are required to help verify your identities and your intention to wed. These include:
An official photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport.
If you were previously married and divorced, bring certified documentation, also known as “raised seal,” proving the divorce occurred.
If you were previously married and your spouse passed away, you must provide your spouse’s death certificate.
Yes, make room in your wedding budget for your marriage license fees. But unlike a tower of cream puffs or an ice sculpture of you and your partner, this expense won’t be too exorbitant. You’ll need to factor in:
Each state has their own unique rules when it comes to marriage laws. For Maine these include:
Applicants must be over 18 years old. If an applicant is under 18, Maine requires written parental consent. If under 16, Maine requires written consent from parents and a judge.
Every municipality has slightly different regulations when it comes to obtaining a marriage license. Check with your local city clerk’s office to make sure you’re not missing any steps in filing.
Do you have a community leader in mind who you’d love to officiate your wedding? Are you excited to have your best friend hold the ceremony, but worried because they were ordained online?
Here’s a comprehensive list of people who can perform binding marriage ceremonies in Maine, according to the official Maine.gov website:
An ordained minister of the gospel
An minister who was ordained online (in this case, the state will require them to mail in a copy of the ordination certificate)
A licensed preacher or someone associated with a religious seminary, ecclesiastical body, or association of ministers
Maine notaries (the Maine.gov site provides a list of Maine Notaries to choose from by location)
For residents of Maine only:
A judge or justice
Once you’ve gathered all your prerequisites, you can head down to your municipality’s city clerk office to start your application. The town clerk will oversee and sign your application.
If you are a Maine local: You can use the city clerk’s office in your town of residence to file for a marriage license.
If you and your partner are Maine residents from different towns: You must choose which town you would like to receive your license from. You cannot obtain a license from both towns.
If you are a non-resident: You may use any city clerk’s office in the state to file for a marriage license.
Once you obtain your license you may marry anywhere in Maine, regardless of what town the marriage license comes from.
A Maine Marriage Intentions Worksheet will typically take 35 minutes to an hour for a couple to complete. Here is some information you and your partner need to have on hand in order to correctly fill out your worksheet.
Parties A and B (both halves of the couple) will fill out identical Marriage Intentions Worksheets. A municipal clerk will witness both parties signing their sheets, plus add their own signature to certify that they witnessed the couple signing and turning in their applications.
The application takes about an hour to complete. So how long is the waiting period between applying for and receiving the marriage license?
Here comes one of the many advantages of Maine being a smaller state: things move more quickly. There is usually no waiting period between applying for and receiving your license. If you walk into your local city clerk’s office, licenses are available for issue as soon as your intentions are filed.
The only exceptions to Maine’s no-waiting period are due to the COVID-19 emergency. Some municipalities have taken these two main approaches to maintain public safety:
Some cities in Maine, such as Warren, currently require you to call in beforehand and schedule an appointment. You may fill out your Intentions Worksheet online and bring it to your appointment, although you must wait to sign the document in front of the town clerk.
Other Maine cities, such as York, are not open to the public. They currently only process Maine marriage licenses by mail, subjecting the wait time to the U.S. Postal Service.
Here’s everything else you need to know about your Maine marriage license.
Maine marriage licenses expire 90 days after they are issued.
Maine does not currently require a blood test to acquire a marriage license.
You can apply any time, as licenses are issued immediately. However, we recommend applying for a license well within 90 days of your wedding. Two to three weeks before the wedding is a safe bet—not too early to expire and not too close to the wedding to risk receiving the license late.
Maine allows couples who were married a year or more previously to apply for a late-filed marriage certificate. If you completed a marriage license but your officiant never sent it in, this option is for you.
To file for a late marriage certificate, the couple must provide the signed marriage license and completed Intentions worksheet, and provide a certification statement.
The couple must file and pay the regular filing fee ($40) to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. When a marriage certificate is issued this way, it will be labeled as “delayed.”
Marriage licenses in Maine become invalid if they are not utilized after 90 days. However, there are other legal reasons (that apply to all 50 states) that your marriage license, or even marriage, may be voided. Some of these cases include:
In essence, Maine marriage licenses are pretty hard to void unless you run out of time or explicitly break the law.
For the most part, Maine does not subscribe to any obscure marriage laws (did you know in Kentucky, it’s illegal to remarry the same man four times?). But there are a few pieces of legislation you may not know about.
Some couples prefer to get married at City Hall first, reap the benefits that marriage rights provide, and have a beautiful ceremony later. For example, perhaps a couple wants to get a head start on a housing loan.
If getting the legal items done fast appeals to you, call your chosen municipality to verify an appointment date and time. Wedding ceremonies usually cost $200 in Maine. The couple still needs to provide two of their own witnesses to the event.
Maine implemented a Domestic Partnerships registry in 2004. Domestic partnerships are intended to allow partners similar rights to married couples, including when it comes to matters of:
Marriage includes all of the benefits that a domestic partnership provides, but the reverse is not true. Couples in domestic partnerships are not allowed to transfer assets to one another without paying some sort of gift or estate tax. Married couples can achieve this tax-free. Certain insurance, pension, and social security benefits are also at risk for domestic partners.
In addition, not all states recognize domestic partnerships. Make sure you do your research if you’re planning to register for domestic partnership in Maine, but will reside somewhere else. Otherwise you may not have the same rights as you would in Maine.
Whether your guests are at home in the New England Area or visiting from afar, it never hurts to remind your guests of a few key factors before arrival. Communication will make for a safe, comfortable visit.
Transportation Options: Maine is easy to get to, with two main airports to land in (Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport). Guests can also easily arrive by car or train if they’re close enough. However, most attractions outside the city are spread out past the scope of Maine public transport. Renting cars or a shuttle is the perfect way to do group trips.
Weather: Winter on the east coast can result in some heavy snow, Maine included. Unless you’re aiming for a truly white wedding, we recommend holding your event in the pleasant heat that arrives June through August. But Maine weather can change in a flash, even in the summertime. Every guest should bring a light jacket and possibly an umbrella, just in case.
You’re now a pro on all things concerning a Maine marriage license, from documentation, to town clerk signatures, to that gorgeous marriage certificate awaiting your future mailbox. If you’re not a local, you may certainly feel like one at this point. With a plan to get licensed and tons of rules and regulations under your belt, the only thing left to do is try one of Maine’s famous buttery lobster rolls.
The upcoming wedding should be the perfect reflection of you and your partner as a couple. Are you looking for a simple wedding with an intimate audience of close family and friends? Or will it be an all-night rager? Zola is here to create your inclusive (or exclusive) guest list. No wedding date yet? No problem—we get the need for flexibility and keeping your options open.
Consider Zola your wedding fairy godmother. With our website building tools, vendor searches, and wedding advisors, planning your wedding will feel as easy as waving a magic wand.