Massachusetts Justice of the Peace

Stoddard H. Melhado







Got Questions? Find the Answers Here!

Frequently Asked Questions:

I have here the most frequently asked questions about getting married in Massachusetts. Browse the questions you may want to ask and find the answers here! Contact Personalized Marriage Ceremonies in Littleton if you have further inquiries.

What elements are usually included in a ceremony?

There is no prescribed form of ceremony in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At a minimum, the parties must agree to take each other as marital spouses (vows) and I must declare them to be married. Most ceremonies have the following parts:

  • Greeting
  • Reading
  • Statement about marriage

  • Vows
  • Second reading
  • Exchange of rings
  • Declaration of marriage

Can we write our own vows?

Absolutely! I encourage you to do so, and I will help you to get the wording just right.

What special things can we include in our ceremony?

It's up to you. It's your wedding; let's make it the way you want. You can add music, poems, special readings. I truly enjoy adding the wine box and love letters to a ceremony and I am quite fond of the Celtic handfasting ritual. I recently officiated at an outdoor wedding where the bride walked out accompanied by her beloved dog -- it was wonderful -- and I have had numerous other weddings with dogs involved.

Do we need witnesses? 

No. Witnesses are not required in Massachusetts

Where can we be married? 

Almost anywhere in Massachusetts -- again, it's up to you and there are many beautiful places in the Commonwealth. If it is just the two of you, I can marry you in my home, or in warm weather outside by our pond or in our gazebo.

Must we have an initial conference and a rehearsal?

For a basic ceremony, no; however, if I am to personalize your ceremony, I want to get to know you, and we will want to rehearse any special elements that we include. If you have a large wedding party a rehearsal is always a good idea.

When do you need the marriage license?

I prefer to get it at the rehearsal. That way we do not have to worry about it on the day of your wedding. If we do not have a rehearsal, I like to have it at least a day in advance of the ceremony. I cannot marry you without a valid Massachusetts marriage license in my possession..

Will we get the license back?

No. By law I am required to complete it and return it to the town or city clerk who issued it. You can obtain a certified copy from that city or town about a week after the ceremony. I will give you an unofficial marriage certificate with a gold seal to keep.

Do you perform same gender marriages?

I am pleased to perform a wedding ceremony for any two people who are entering into a loving, committed relationship.

What do we do about audio equipment?

I have done too many beautiful weddings, especially outdoors, where half of the guests do not hear the ceremony. I no longer depend on the venue or DJ for audio equipment and can provide, at no cost to you, a completely portable sound system that will guarantee that your guests will hear your ceremony. I use lapel mike for me and a lapel mike on the end of my book for you and any readers so that there is nothing obtrusive like a microphone stand, in your pictures.

What will you wear?

That depends upon you. I can wear a black, blue, or red robe, tuxedo, dark or light suit, or blazer with khakis. Think of the setting, what you are wearing, and the look that you want for your pictures. Actually, I keep hoping for a Hawaiian theme wedding so that I can wear an Aloha shirt and a Lei :) 

Is a gratuity expected?

Never expected, but always appreciated especially as additional help for Greyhound Friends.

Do you have any tips for a successful ceremony?

  • Meet the person who will be officiating. Web sites, e-mail, and phone conversations are useful, but by sitting down with your officiant you will get a good idea of how your ceremony will go.And it will give me the opportunity to learn about you and your relationship, allowing me to add personal touches to your ceremony.
  • Book your officiant early. Often this is left to the last minute and I am usually booked months in advance.
  • Make it personal -- include parents, grandparents, or children if there are any, or something special reflecting your heritage.
  • Add an element that people may have not seen before, like a wine box and love letters, handfasting, or the mystical sounds of my friend Celtic harpist Tristen Hall, pictured below.
  • Have fun -- this is your day.and weddings are meant to be a joyful celebration of your love

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