License to wed

Couples planning their Maine wedding from afar should check important details and deadlines before daydreaming of their Vacationland nuptials. Here’s how to get legally hitched without a hitch in Maine.

The nuts and bolts of obtaining a marriage license in Maine include three scenarios for couples, age 18 and older. The first step is to have the marriage intentions recorded in writing.  Both parties must sign the intentions, stating they are free to marry.

• Married before? Extra documentation showing how the last marriage ended as well as a photo ID or driver’s license is required for these prospective brides and grooms.

• Couples who are are residents of Maine must file intentions at the municipal office in the town or city where one of them lives.

• If only one party resides in Maine, both must file their intentions at the municipal office in the town or city where they live.

• If neither is a resident of Maine, intentions must be filed at any municipal office.

Maine does not have a waiting period, so once intentions are filed and the marriage license — which costs $40 — is issued, the parties are free to marry anywhere within Maine.  However, it is important to note that the license must be used within 90 days — not three months — from the date the intentions were filed.

Who can legally marry you in Maine?
If the officiant is a Maine resident, she can be a justice of the peace, judge, lawyer, notary public (under Title 4, chapter 19). Other officiants can include an ordained minister, a cleric, a person licensed to preach.

The couple is responsible for picking up a copy of their valid State of Maine marriage license and presenting it to the officiant prior to the ceremony.  Once the officiant receives the photocopy of the marriage license from the bride and groom, the license is then the responsibility of the officiant.

The officiant must review the license for the couple’s signatures, ensure the license hasn’t expired, have two witnesses plus the officiant sign the license in black ink, perform the ceremony and then file the completed license with the municipal clerk where the license was obtained.

Marriage certificate copies are available for a fee from the municipal clerk who issued the license and also from the Office of Vital Records in Augusta at (207) 287-6490.

By Elizabeth Webster