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Frequently Asked Wedding Questions

Connecticut Justice of the Peace
Ernest Adams   —   (860) 543-2334

Celebrating Your Day Your Way!

 

Your wedding will be unique, just as you are unique, both as individuals and as a couple. This Page will help you with what you should know before applying for your marriage license, how to go about getting your marriage license, and other details. You are always welcome to call me with questions at (860) 543-2334!

Because I am a Connecticut Justice of the Peace, I stay current with the changes that impact the process of getting married in Connecticut. All of the information presented here is accurate as of September, 2013, to the best of my knowledge and belief. Please see the Disclaimer at the bottom of this Page.

How can we get married in Connecticut?

In Connecticut either an opposite-sex or a same-sex couple can be joined in marriage. First, you must meet the age requirements. (Basically, you must both be 18, but there are exceptions.) Second, you should select a location for the ceremony. Third, you must apply for a marriage license. Fourth, select a wedding officiant. There is a Suggested Criteria Page for selecting an officiant. (I'm hoping that you will choose me as yours!) Fifth, rest and relax before the big day! This step is crucial to your enjoyment. Sixth, have the ceremony. You must give the original license to your officiant. It is the officiant's responsibility to sign the license and get it to the proper Town Clerk to be recorded. Seventh, live happily ever after.

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What is the application process for our marriage license?

After you have selected your ceremony location, apply for a marriage license in that town. Both of you must sign the application in person. In Connecticut it is not possible to obtain a license through the use of a Power of Attorney. You do not both have to sign the application at the same time. The license expiration limit starts when the first person signs. You will need to supply the following data about the ceremony

  • The date on which you expect to hold your ceremony.
  • A telephone number where one of you can be reached.

Each of you will need to furnish the following information

  • Your name.
  • Your Social Security Number.
  • Your age and date of birth.
  • Your sex.
  • Your state or foreign country of birth.
  • Your residence address, including county.
  • Your race.
  • Whether you are under the supervision or control of a guardian or conservator.
  • Your father's name and birthplace (state or foreign country).
  • Your mother's maiden name and birthplace (state or foreign country).
  • The number of this marriage for you (first, second, etc.).
  • If you were previously in a marriage, did it end by death, divorce, or annulment?
  • The number of years of education that you have completed.

Each of you will take an oath that the information that you have provided is true. You will pay the fee required. In a very few minutes you will be able to walk out with your license!

As silly as it sounds, be careful with your license! You must give the original document to your wedding officiant in order to be legally joined. No legally-authorized officiant will marry you without having your license before the ceremony is performed. Also, please do not fold your marriage license.

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What are the age requirements for marriage in Connecticut?

The legal age for marriage in Connecticut is 18. If you are under 18, parental consent is required. A person under the age of 16 may not marry unless the judge of probate for the district in which the minor resides gives written consent on the marriage license.

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Does the Justice of the Peace get the marriage license in Connecticut?

No. Only you can get your marriage license. To get married in Connecticut you must get your marriage license from the town hall of the town in which you will have your ceremony. You both must go in person. Nobody else can get your marriage license for you.

Your Justice of the Peace must have your marriage license in his or her possession before marrying you.

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Do we have to have a Justice of the Peace from the same county?

Do we need a JP from the same town where we're getting married?

No. Any Connecticut Justice of the Peace can marry anyone in any Connecticut county or town.

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How much does a marriage license cost?

The fee for a marriage license in Connecticut is $30.00. Some couples split the cost of the license, signifying the beginning of their financial partnership.

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Does our marriage license expire?

Yes! Your ceremony must be held within 65 calendar days after the date of your application. If you sign the application on different days, your license expires 65 calendar days after the first person signs.

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If we get married after our license expires, are we legally married?

No officially-authorized officiant will marry you without a valid marriage license. The person who violated the law would be fined and you two would not be legally married. In addition, all three of you would be guilty of fraud. Your only option is to get a new marriage license.

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Are witnesses to the marriage ceremony required in Connecticut?

No. Most people want to share their special day with people close to them, but no witnesses are required. Some people prefer to have only the couple and the officiant present. You may have as many witnesses as your location will safely hold, or none at all. I am ethically bound to protect your privacy; please see my Privacy Policy Page. Unless I have your permission, I will not divulge any information not required by law.

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We got our license, then decided not to get married. Do we need to file a divorce?

No. As long as you did not have an actual wedding, big or small, you are not legally married. In Connecticut you are not legally married until an authorized officiant pronounces you married. If 65 days have gone by since your license was issued and your license hasn't been signed by an authorized officiant and returned to the Town Clerk, then you are not legally married. For your own peace of mind, destroy your marriage license, whether it has expired or not.

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Can my sister perform part of the ceremony?

Absolutely! You are encouraged to have your friends and family participate in any ways that you find meaningful.

Many times I have co-officiated with a divinity school student, family friend, or other person who was not legally recognized as a Connecticut officiant.

There are a few things that must, by Connecticut law, be done by the Justice of the Peace or other legally-authorized person. The Justice of the Peace must sign your license certifying that the ceremony took place, for example. It cannot be emphasized enough: It is your day! Your happiness is my goal.

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Are there people who cannot be legally married in Connecticut?

According to Connecticut Statute: "No man may marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, stepmother or stepdaughter, and no woman may marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, uncle, nephew, stepfather or stepson". For same-sex couples, the same laws that applied to civil unions apply to marriages: "[No woman may marry her] mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister or mother's sister. [No man may marry his] father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother or mother's brother."

Please notice that there is nothing in those lists that says that you cannot marry your cousin in Connecticut.

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Does Connecticut allow proxy marriage?

No. Some states allow people to get married by proxy. Connecticut does not allow proxy marriage. Proxy marriages are ceremonies where either one or both halves of the couple are not physically present during the ceremony. A proxy wedding is possible in only a few states, usually only in the case of members of the armed forced currently deployed. Some states permit an attorney to apply for the marriage license on the couple's behalf. Connecticut does not. In Connecticut, both people who want to get married must go to the Town Hall in the town where they will have their ceremony. Because Connecticut does not permit proxy marriages, I cannot and will not participate in a proxy wedding.

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Is there a specific format for a marriage ceremony?

No. Your wedding ceremony will be as unique as you are! Together we will create your ideal wedding celebration. You are welcome to design your own wedding ceremony and write your own vows. In addition to the Vows Page, I will be happy to assist you. Neither party needs to say "obey"! Modern language typically includes the words "love", "honor", "cherish", and "respect". You can write your own alternative wedding vows, and I'd be happy to help you if you'd like help. Most couples choose to have some form of Unity Ceremony as part of their wedding ceremonies, but it certainly isn't required. There are some examples with pictures on my Unity Ceremony Page. Would you like to have friends and family take an active part? There are many ways to include them. Just give me a call at (860) 543-2334.

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How is a Justice of the Peace wedding different from a church wedding?

How is getting married by a JP different from being married by a rabbi?

In one word, flexibility. Religious leaders may require that you take classes, attend their house of worship for a specific period of time before they will marry you, promise to bring your children up in their particular religious tradition, or insist on certain wording for your ceremony.

On the other hand, I honor all people's right to choose and follow their own religious traditions. Or no belief system at all. All people, agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, and those who feel spiritual but not religious, are equally welcome.

When we meet I will ask you whether you want a ceremony that is religious, spiritual, or a purely civil ceremony. I will also ask what traditions, if any, you would like to include in your ceremony. What I will not ask you is where you go to church, when you were last in shul (or temple, or synagogue, or ...), if you have been baptized, ....

Would you like to include reading from the Bible? Calling the quarters? Breaking a wineglass? Smudging with sage? Standing under a chuppah? All traditional ceremony elements are equally welcome! You can even start new traditions.

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How much does a Connecticut Justice of the Peace wedding cost?

Connecticut law does not set the fees that Justices of the Peace may charge for their services. Because your wedding will be uniquely yours, together we will design a ceremony based on your dreams. Just as every couple is different, I don't have a one-size-fits-all ceremony with a fixed fee. Nor do I offer "packages" at different price levels. Many factors determine the fee: Travel distance, whether we have a rehearsal, time spent doing preparation, et cetera. Most couples like to meet in person (or via Skype) to discuss their ceremony. There is never a fee for the initial planning meeting! Special consideration is given to military personnel who are serving our country!

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Why do wedding officiants charge based on the number of people in your wedding?

I do not set my fee by the number of people in your wedding party or the number of guests you will have.

When we talk on the telephone and meet in person I will ask you several questions in order to help you plan your wedding ceremony. The number of people in your wedding party will be one factor in us deciding together whether we will need a rehearsal. The number of guests that you plan on having will be one factor in you deciding what kind of Unity Ceremony you would like. (See the Unity Ceremony Page for some suggestions.)

In general, people with larger guest lists have more elaborate wedding ceremonies. People who elope generally have simpler ceremonies. When you and I decide on a fee, it will not change no matter how many guests you add. If you decide that you want to add Unity Ceremonies, readings, or other ceremony elements, my fee will remain the same. At the end of our initial planning meeting you will know exactly what my fee will be. There will be no surprises!

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I've made a big mistake. I found out something about the person I married. Can you (my officiant) just not file the marriage license?

No. Contact an attorney immediately. Once your officiant has pronounced you married, you are legally married. By Connecticut law, your officiant must sign and return your license to the proper Town Clerk. Whether you should seek an annulment or a divorce is a question I cannot legally answer. I wish you the best outcome, and legally I cannot do more than that.

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Do you marry gay couples?

Do you marry lesbian couples?

Yes. I am happy to marry any loving couple. There is a Gay Wedding Questions Page that answers some questions usually asked by gay couples. Many same-sex couples elope to Connecticut because they cannot yet get married in their home states. You do not have to be a Connecticut resident to get married in Connecticut.

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Where can we get married in Connecticut?

You can have your ceremony anywhere in Connecticut as long as you apply for your marriage license in that Connecticut town. You must apply for your marriage license in the town where you're having your wedding ceremony. You are encouraged to choose your own location, as long as you can arrange for me to have access during the ceremony.

Would you like to be married on a beach? There's a Beach Weddings Page. Do you want to get married in a rose garden? Please see my Rose Garden Weddings Page. On a boat? On top of a hill? In a meadow? Connecticut has limitless possibilities! Some places on the suggested locations Page are very popular. Please plan ahead and get all the necessary permissions, permits, etc. I will be happy to assist you in finding a suitable location! You can reach me at (860) 543-2334 at your convenience.

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Where do we apply for our marriage license?

You apply for your license at the office of the Town Clerk in the town where you will be married. The Connecticut marriage law changed, effective on October 1, 2009. The exact wording is "No persons may be joined in marriage in this state until both have complied with the provisions of sections 46b-24, 46b-25 and 46b-29 to 46b-33, inclusive, and have been issued a license by the registrar for the town in which the marriage is to be celebrated, which license shall bear the certification of the registrar that the persons named therein have complied with the provisions of said sections." Everyone I've talked to at Town Clerks' Offices has been very pleasant and helpful. Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, divided into 8 counties. Some villages, such as Mystic, are in two towns. If you need help, please call me at (860 543-2334.

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Are we legally married when we get the marriage license in Connecticut?

No! You must have a wedding ceremony, no matter how brief, in order to be legally married in Connecticut. Your Justice of the Peace must fill out parts of your license, sign it, and return it to Town Hall. Only after your marriage ceremony you are considered legally married in Connecticut.

The person at the Town Clerk's Office who issues your license is by law not permitted to marry you. If you would like a simple wedding ceremony at Town Hall, please call me.

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When are we legally married in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, when are you considered married?

Just as soon as I finish the sentence "I now pronounce you ....", you are legally married.

As soon as I file your marriage license at Town Hall and the Clerk (or Assistant Clerk) signs it, there is a legal record that you are married. If you need proof that you are married before then (to go on a cruise as a married couple, for example), I will swear an affidavit.

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Can we apply for a marriage license in two towns for the same date?

Yes! In some cases, it is a wise idea. A couple decided to have a Saturday wedding by a pond in a town where their friends live, and got their license in that town. Two days before the wedding, the forecast predicted heavy rain and high wind, making an outdoor wedding impractical. The couple got a new marriage license in the town where they were to have their reception, and I married them at their reception location.

You will have to pay two marriage license fees, and you will not get a refund for the unused marriage license. You might consider the extra $30 to be weather insurance.

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Do we need blood tests to get married in Connecticut?

No. The Connecticut premarital blood test requirement was repealed effective on October 1, 2003. No blood tests are required in Connecticut for marriage.

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Do we need wedding rings?

No. Wedding rings are not a requirement for marriage in Connecticut. Some couples prefer to use one ring, others prefer two rings. Wedding rings, or the lack of them, have no effect on the validity of a marriage. Wedding rings are required by some religious institutions, but are not needed for a Justice of the Peace wedding.

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We want to elope. Is there a waiting period after we get our license?

No. People who want to elope can get married on the same day they get their license. Please see my Elope to ConnecticutSM Page. There is no waiting period after you get our license. From the start of the license application until you present it to a wedding officiant may be as little as twenty minutes. How long it takes to get your marriage license after you have filled out the marriage license application depends on how busy the office is. Some towns may ask you to return the following day; please call the specific Town Clerk's Office to be sure!

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What is a "Destination Wedding"?

A destination wedding can be one of the simplest weddings to plan, and one of the most economical! You and your spouse-to-be travel to a location that is special to you. You are joined by as many of your guests as can attend. Your wedding ceremony is held in the location you have chosen. You and your guests celebrate at your reception, then enjoy the local flavor. You can see photos from some Connecticut places for destination weddings at my Mystic Seaport Page, Mystic Aquarium Page, and Harkness Memorial State Park Page.

Dana and Jonathan came with their guests from Arkansas to have their destination wedding at The Mansion at Bald Hill in Woodstock, Connecticut. There are several other popular destination wedding venues listed on the Locations Page. Please feel free to call me at (860) 543-2334 for other suggestions!

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Can an attorney officiate at my wedding?

Can a mayor officiate a wedding in Connecticut?

An attorney could officiate at a wedding only if that attorney were also a Justice of the Peace, a judge, or other authorized official.

A mayor may be your wedding officiant in Connecticut only if that mayor is also a Justice of the Peace or other authorized wedding officiant.

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Who can perform marriages in Connecticut?

This is an extremely important topic. Please confirm with your wedding officiant that they are legally authorized to join people in marriage in Connecticut. Authorized officiants include

  • Justices of the Peace;
  • Judges and retired judges;
  • Family support magistrates;
  • Ordained or licensed clergy who have an active ministry in addition to performing marriages;
  • State referees.

If there is any doubt about your officiant being properly authorized, please consult the Town Clerk where the officiant resides. There is a Suggested Criteria Page for helping you choose an officiant. Alternative wedding officiants, such as Justices of the Peace, usually offer you the most options of all wedding officiants and have the fewest rules that you must follow.

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Can you tell me how to get certified to perform weddings in Connecticut?

Some states allow people to apply for and receive a one-day permit to perform legal marriages. Connecticut does not. Only the people listed under "Who can perform marriages in Connecticut?" can legally marry people in Connecticut.

If you would like to perform two of your friends' wedding, or you would like to have a friend perform your wedding, please contact me. You (or your friend) can conduct the social part of the ceremony and I will take care of the legal portion. The guests will not need to know. It has been my pleasure to help seminary students, aunts & uncles, brothers & sisters, and other people take a leading roll in the ceremony. Remember: It's all about you!

Getting a so-called Internet ordination will not give anyone the right to marry people in Connecticut! You are strongly cautioned that Connecticut has cracked down on people getting "ordained" via the Internet. Such "ordinations" are not valid in Connecticut. Marriages performed without the proper legal authority are not valid.

Basically, Justices of the Peace are appointed in presidential election years for four-year terms. JPs are appointed by the Republican or Democratic parties in their towns. Unaffiliated voters apply directly to their Town Clerks. If you live in Connecticut please contact your political Town Committee or Town Clerk for information on becoming a JP.

How to become a judge in Connecticut is far beyond my explaining. Likewise, I have no idea how one becomes a family support magistrate or state referee in Connecticut.

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How many guests can you have at a Justice of the Peace wedding?

How many people should attend a Justice of the Peace wedding?

How many guests would you like to have? There is no reason to limit your number of guests! And there is no reason to have any guests, if you don't want people at your wedding ceremony.

The only limitation on the number of guests at your wedding should be the number of people who will fit into your wedding venue.

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Do have to know who our wedding officiant will be before we get our marriage license?

No. The Town Clerk's Office may ask you if you have chosen the person who will be marrying you, but you do not have to supply an officiant's name in order to get your marriage license.

One reason you might be asked for your officiant's name is that the Town Clerk would like to be able to contact your officiant in case there are questions when your completed license is returned to them for recording. The Town Clerk's Office may ask for your phone number if you do not give them your officiant's name.

In most cases I return your filled-out marriage license in person and someone checks it before I leave the Town Hall. If I return the license by mail it always goes certified with a return receipt requested, and I enclose my business card so that I can be reached immediately with any questions.

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Why are flower petals sometimes strewn in the bride's path?

Traditionally flower petals are strewn in the bride's path to ensure a happy path in married life. This cheerful task is often given to a young girl whom the couple wishes to honor by including her in the ceremony. Yes, boys can strew flowers, too! You may decide to have more than one person strewing flowers.

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Does Connecticut recognize Common Law marriage?

No. There may be rare exceptions! (Another way to phrase the question would be "How long do you have to live together in Connecticut for common law rights?") For details of Connecticut Common Law rights please consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut.

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Can you help us with our Prenuptial Agreement?

Short answer: No. Longer answer: If you have a Prenuptial Agreement and would like to have your signatures on it notarized, I would be happy to notarize and seal it in my capacity as a Connecticut Notary Public. You should obtain legal and financial advice from professionals authorized to provide such services in Connecticut. I can make recommendations.

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A Brief Word about Terms

In these Pages, "town" is used to refer to one of Connecticut's 169 municipalities, whether it is officially a city or officially a town.

In order to avoid long phrases, the words "Town Clerk" as used here refers to the Registrar of Vital Statistics. In most Connecticut towns the term "Town Clerk" and "Registrar of Vital Statistics" are identical.

"Wedding Officiant"?   "Wedding Officiate"?   "Wedding Officiator"?   "Wedding Celebrant"?

You may see the term "Wedding officiate" on the Web. "Officiate" is a verb; "officiant" is a noun. A wedding officiant will officiate at a wedding ceremony.

Yes, there are some places that call a legally-authorized wedding officiant a "Wedding Officiator". Officiant is very much the preferred term.

Because it is an honor to be asked to officiate at the formal, legal celebration of your love, and it is a joy to unite you, I consider myself a wedding celebrant, not just a wedding officiant. Please note that there is no intention of religious meaning in this use of the phrase "wedding celebrant"!

No matter what you call me, please call me at (860) 543-2334!

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Disclaimer

Please note that I am a Connecticut Justice of the Peace. Please see the Page listing the duties of a Connecticut Justice of the Peace. I am not an attorney. I cannot give legal advice. The answers given here were derived from information publicly available, including data provided by the Vital Statistics division of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Supporting documentation may be found at the Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries, and specifically http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/notebooks/pathfinders/marriageinct/marriage.pdf. You are encouraged to do your own research, both online and in your public library. Please check with the Town Clerk where you reside or plan to have your wedding ceremony. The people in the Town Clerk's Office want your celebration to be a success; they will help you however they can. For complex questions, or if you have any doubts about the laws, you should consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut (or your home state).

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