So You Want to Officiate at a Wedding: How to Get a One-Day Designation Certificate in Massachusetts

June 7, 2018 10:28 am Published by Robin A. DeAugustinis

Ah, June, one of the most popular months for weddings. A couple of years ago, I attended a memorable wedding at a beautiful ocean-side setting in a neighboring state. To my surprise, the person officiating at the ceremony was the groom’s aunt. I asked if she had become a Justice of the Peace or a minister since I last saw her. No, she replied, she had obtained a temporary license to solemnize the marriage. It was quite touching that she knew the couple so well, and her presentation was heart-felt.

Massachusetts offers One-Day Designation Certificates to private individuals who want to officiate at a wedding ceremony in the Commonwealth. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 207, Section 39, “the governor may designate any other person to solemnize a particular marriage on a particular day and in a particular city or town . . .” The key point here is that the Certificate is valid only for a specific wedding to be held in Massachusetts. And the Certificate is available only to individuals who are not already authorized to officiate.

The mechanics of obtaining a Certificate are straightforward. You may apply up to six months in advance, but no later than one week before the wedding date. The Governor’s Office reviews the application, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth issues the Certificate.

You’ll find the application form on the website for the Secretary of the Commonwealth. There are two ways to apply: (i) submit a completed application by mail with a fee of $25, with an expected processing time of four to six weeks, or (ii) apply directly online for $20, plus a $3.50 expedited fee. The Certificate will be ready in five business days. Now all you need is a lovely, poignant speech!


Attorney Robin DeAugustinis counsels both lenders and borrowers regarding commercial financial transactions and real estate. She particularly enjoys the tangible nature of practicing real estate law, as well as helping others and drafting legal documents.

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