If you want to tie the knot in Maryland without a trip down a church aisle (and the hefty bill that comes with it), consider a civil ceremony. A justice of the peace in Maryland can do the deed fast, efficiently and inexpensively. You'll need to get a marriage license and sit through a 48-hour waiting period before you schedule the ceremony. The license is valid for six months.
Pick a Marriage Location
Maryland has 24 different jurisdictions, so your first step in getting married before a justice of the peace is to pick your preferred site. The particulars vary from court to court, so it's important to get the marriage license information, instructions and office hours from the county or city court in the location where you plan to marry. For example, the rules for obtaining a marriage license might be different for a Baltimore County civil ceremony than for a marriage ceremony in Frederick County. You must get your license in the county or city where you want the marriage to occur, since a license is only valid for the jurisdiction in which it is issued.
Apply for a License
Visit the office of the clerk of the circuit court for the county where the wedding will take place. Only one of the two of you must appear in person and make the application. Appear during business hours, and bring the following information for each of the two people:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Place of birth
- Marital status
If neither you nor your spouse-to-be is a resident of the county where you want to marry, you can apply without the inconvenience of visiting the clerk of the circuit court there. Use a non-resident affidavit form instead. Take it to the clerk of the circuit court where you reside. If you don't live in Maryland, take it to the public official who issues marriage licenses in the state where you live. Take in a copy of the instructions as well. After the official has witnessed your signature on the form, mail it to the address listed on the form, and receive your marriage license in the mail.
Schedule the Ceremony
Once you have obtained the marriage license, determine when you want to marry. Your options begin 48 hours after you obtain the license and end six months later. Call the license office to find out your options, then invite your guests and get a cake.
Paying the Price
Call the clerk of the circuit court where the marriage will take place to find out how much you must pay for the license, since the fees differ. Currently, all fees are under $100, but be prepared: Some locations, like Baltimore, only accept cash. In all jurisdictions, you'll pay another small fee to obtain a certified copy of your license or a marriage certificate, and yet another fee at the time a civil ceremony is held.
With a Master's in English, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's law school, Teo Spengler is up on education. She splits her home time between San Francisco and France. A perpetual student and frequent teacher, she is also a writer and world traveler. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Fairmont Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites.