How to Get Married in Williamstown
Last Updated: August 2008
This guide is presented as a public service by Williams BiGLATA, the organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Williams College Alumni. Nothing in this guide is intended as legal advice. All information provided is as current and as accurate as we could make it, but this is simply a guide to help you determine information on your own.
The Town Clerk of Williamstown, Mary Courtney Kennedy, is very helpful. Her office is on the first floor of Town Hall, 31 North Street, just north of the intersection of Routes 2 and 7. Her office telephone number is (413) 458-9341. Ms. Kennedy is also a Justice of the Peace and is available to perform your wedding ceremony. She can also direct you to other persons authorized to perform a civil ceremony. You may want to use a friend who has that authority because of an office that she/he holds in Massachusetts. For information on bringing your own clergyperson from outside of Massachusetts, see Paragraph 3. For information on Thompson Memorial Chapel and using the College Chaplain as your officiant, see Paragraph 4.
Here is what it takes to get married in Massachusetts:
- Notice of Intention to Marry. Massachusetts requires that both wedding participants swear to a Notice of Intention to Marry, then wait three or more calendar days, then obtain a Marriage License. Both wedding participants must appear together and in person to complete and swear to the Notice. (There are exceptions for absence because of illness or military service.) Note that the old requirement for a blood test was abolished in 2005.
- Marriage License. A Marriage License issued anywhere in Massachusetts is good everywhere in Massachusetts. You can get your License in Williamstown and hold the wedding anywhere else you want, or vice-versa. You must wait three calendar days after you file the Notice of Intention to Marry before you apply for the Marriage License. The license fee varies -- in Williamstown it includes a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate and costs $25.00 US. The officiant at the wedding will complete the Marriage License and file it with the Town Clerk. The Marriage License then becomes the Marriage Certificate, and is double-filed with the Town Clerk and with the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, Massachusetts Department of Health, in Boston.
- If you want to bring along a clergyperson from outside of Massachusetts to perform the ceremony, plan a delay of four to five weeks to process the paperwork. The wedding participants or the clergyperson needs to call the Public Records Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth in Boston at (617) 727-2836 and request the necessary forms. That Division will mail the forms directly to the clergyperson for her/him to complete and return. Upon approval, a temporary authorization will issue allowing her/him to perform your wedding ceremony in Massachusetts. That authorization will be attached to and recorded with the Marriage License after the ceremony.
- Policies governing the use of Thompson Memorial Chapel for weddings by the Williams community can be found at http://www.williams.edu/Chaplain/WeddingPolicy.php. At least one member of the happy couple must be a Williams student, alumnus/a, faculty member, staff member, or son or daughter of any of those. The rental rate is $150.00 US, paid when you reserve the Chapel for your wedding. In addition, there are the usual honoraria to the clergyperson and the organist. The Rev. Rick Spalding, College Chaplain, is supportive and might be able to perform your ceremony.
For information that might be both more detailed and more current, visit http://www.glad.org/marriage/howtogetmarried.html. That webpage is maintained by GLAD, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
Anyone needing clarification or suggesting changes to this guide is encouraged to write John D. Rawls '65 at firstname.lastname@example.org.