Wedding of Your Desire
by Massachusetts Justice of the Peace & Notary Public
Carol J. Merletti
The Process

(Please see my fees at the bottom of this web page OR click on the FEES Link on the left.)


1.  Couple getting married (18 years or older)

2.  The Justice of the Peace / Officiant

3.  A valid marriage license (Massachusetts Certificate of Marriage)

  • Cost varies from town to town
  • Couple must go together to town or city clerk to fill out an application of intent to marry (Bring proof of age and birth
  • Does not need to be the town you live in or where you are getting married
  • There is a three (3) day waiting period before you can pick-up license
  • License is valid for sixty (60) days
  • When picking up license, make sure all information is correct
  • Contact a Justice of the Peace / Officiant
  • Marriage license must be left with the JP / Officiant to mail back to the town or city clerk within ten (10) days
  • The JP / Officiant cannot give you a copy of the signed license once you hand it to him / her.  He / She must return it
    to the town or city clerk where it was applied for so that they can stamp the license to make it official. Once this is
    done, for a small fee, the couple can obtain a copy from the town or city clerk.  However...
  • I do provide each couple with a Certificate of Marriage at the end of the ceremony, which may be witnessed by
    members of the wedding party simply by having them sign on the witness lines.  This makes the couple feel a little at
    ease by having some sort of documentation until they can pick up a copy of their actual marriage license.  This
    certificate is very attractive and often times the wedding photographer will ask the couple to pose with it for an
    additional picture of their wedding album.
  • In addition to receiving a Certificate of Marriage, I also provide each couple with a typed copy of their wedding vows.


Marriage License and Officiant Payment: are due before the ceremony begins.  There are two reasons for this. First, and
most importantly, an "
officiant" cannot perform your ceremony until they view the expiration date on your Marriage License.  
This is required by
Massachusetts law. Secondly, once the ceremony ends, couples are very excited to go and take part in
the picture session of their wedding.  An "
officiant" does not feel comfortable, nor do they want to interfere in this special
part of your wedding.  In addition, most JPs must leave to perform other ceremonies.  Therefore, to make it easier for all, it is
best to put the "
officiant payment" in the same envelope with the Marriage License and give it to the "best man", since this
must be handed to the "officiant" upon arrival of your ceremony.  By giving this to the "best man", the "officiant" does not
have to overwhelm the "
couple" with having to ask for this when they are so busy trying to get ready for the most important
moment of their lives -- their wedding!

Ceremony Time and Guest Arrival:  It is extremely, extremely important that all guests arrive on time so that the ceremony
can start on time.  While it is normal for ceremonies to start a few minutes behind for one reason or another, any additional
time after that is going to prove to be costly to the couple getting married.  This could mean additional cost for the reception
hall having to pay their catering services / employee salaries for overtime, the limousine driver, the officiant, photographer,
DJ, etc.  While I have never, ever charged for additional time, it is becoming more of a timing problem for me as an officiant
when wedding ceremonies do not start on time.  I often conduct two ceremonies in one day, so I schedule them with enough
travel time, as well as enough time to get to each ceremony early enough in the event that I am needed for any last minute
changes.  I would never, ever want to be late for your ceremony, so I ask that this not happen to other couples who I have
committed myself to that day for their ceremony as well.  This is where it is very important that you do your best, as a
couple, to make sure that this does not happen.  An idea to get your guest to arrive on time is for you to tell your guest that
your ceremony is at 4:00 p.m., when it is really going to start at 4:30 p.m.  This way, there will not be an additional cost to
you, at least from my end.

Rehearsals: There will also never be any additional cost to you other than my fee of $150.00 for my attending your
rehearsal, if however, your wedding party shows up on time.


                                                          RELIGIOUS / NON-RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES

While I am Catholic, I am not a practicing Catholic.  Therefore, I will and do perform all types of ceremonies based upon your
religious belief.  However, in an effort to not insult anyone because I am not familiar with your religion, I never, ever
incorporate any religious quotes in a ceremony unless I am asked to do so.  And because I am not familiar with your religion,
I will always rely on you to help me with whatever it is that you want me to say or do to assure that it is done correctly.  Each
and every one of my vows are special, unique, individualized and very meaningful for each of my clients.  Having said that, if
you want me to include a particular religious quote, I am very happy to do so.  I am very open-minded towards all faiths and

                                                                       Non-Denominational Ceremonies

A non-denominational is a ceremony that is not of a particular denomination and is based upon what couples want for their

Religious Ceremony

A particular denomination (e.g., Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, etc.) or combination of denominations; characterized by defining
religious rituals or traditions from one or more denominations.

Non-Religious Ceremony

There is no religion attached to this ceremony whatsoever. However, your ceremony is just as meaningful, warm, special,
and loving as with any other ceremony.  You can be as creative as you wish with your vows.

Interfaith Ceremony

A combination or blend of religions ranging from only some religion to being entirely religious.


Can a couple select their own vows?
  • Definitely.  There are a number of sample vows that you can choose from
  • You can even write your own vows

Do we Have to Speak at the Ceremony
  • Not if you don't want to
  • Massachusetts Law provides a lot of room in what is, and isn't required at weddings. If you wanted to just say "I do",
    that is acceptable

Can we Include Others in the Ceremony?
  • Of course
  • Family and friends can do readings, take part in the Unity Candle lighting, be a best man, bridesmaid, usher, ring
    barrier, etc.
  • It is the couple's call on what they wish for their ceremony

Do we Need Rings?
  • No, but most couples do, since it is tradition

Do we Need Witnesses at the Ceremony?
  • Per Massachusetts State Law, witnesses are not required to be present at the ceremony.
  • This decision is entirely up to the couple getting married

Where the Ceremony is Held?
  • The ceremony is held where ever you wish -- at your home, at a hotel or function hall, at the beach, at a baseball field
    -- as long as it is in Massachusetts, it's your call

Do we Have to Hold a Rehearsal?
  • This is very important if you plan on having more than a basic ceremony, but not a must.  If you are having a small
    wedding party, e.g., the couple, maid of honor, and best man, then no.  You would be wasting your money.  The
    wedding planner and / or officiant is always on hand before the ceremony and can instruct you on how to line up
  • It is important if you do have a large wedding party and you want everyone to feel comfortable in their role in the
    ceremony. This also makes everyone feel relaxed before your big day
  • If you are not having a wedding party included in your ceremony, I honestly find this to be a waste of your  time and
  • My fee for attending a rehearsal is $150.00 and is due on the day of the ceremony rehearsal

Is it necessary for a Pre-Nuptial Meeting With Our Officiant?
  • No, but it does brings ease to the couple getting married
  • It gives them the opportunity to decide on vows
  • Provides an opportunity for the couple to get to know the JP / Officiant and the JP / Officiant to know the couple
  • An initial meeting with me is considered to be a Pre-nuptial meeting.
  • My fee for a Pre-nuptial meeting is $50.00 and is due on the day of the of the Pre-nuptial meeting

What does an Officiant Wear at a Ceremony?
  • A black robe for a more formal wedding. If a bride is wearing a gown, and a groom is wearing a suit or tux, the
    appropriate thing for your officiant to do is to always wear their robe. (Not their bathrobe -- of course!!!)
  • Business attire for an informal wedding (beach or backyard ceremony)

How Does a Couple Renew Their Vows?
  • Basically it is very similar to a wedding ceremony
  • It can be a small or large ceremony
  • Renewal vows are available


  • My fee for officiating a wedding / renewal of vows is $150.00. (This is the minimum fee set by Massachusetts State

  • If however, the ceremony takes place in my hometown of Malden, and the couple resides in Malden, my fee is
    If a Malden couple weds outside of Malden, the fee is $150.00.

  • My one time, face-to-face meeting, regardless whether it is called a"Pre-nuptial", "Planning", "Consultation" or
    "Interview" meeting is $50.00.

  • My fee for a rehearsal is $150.00. (There will be no additional cost if your wedding party arrives on time.)

  • A 50% non-refundable deposit to reserve your wedding date on Carol's calendar is required

  • The only additional charge is for parking fees and tolls.  If your ceremony is being held in a hotel where you are
    charged a parking fee, that fee, whatever it may be for that particular hotel / function hall, must be included as well.

  • Payment for a pre-nuptial meeting, a wedding rehearsal, or the wedding ceremony is appreciated on the day that it is

                                                                                   IMPORTANT NOTES:

Marriage License and Officiant Payment are due before the ceremony begins.  There are two reasons for this. First, and
most importantly, I cannot perform your ceremony until I view the expiration date on your Marriage License.  Secondly,once
the ceremony ends, couples are very excited to go and take part in the picture session of their wedding.  An officiant does
not feel comfortable, nor do they want to interfere in this special part of your wedding.  In addition, most JPs must leave to
perform other ceremonies.  Therefore, to make it easier for all, it is best to put the officiant payment in the same envelope
with the Marriage License and give it to the best man to hand to the officiant upon arrival of your ceremony. I do not charge
for writing your wedding vows.  I believe that this should be included in your ceremony fee.


Ceremony Vows  that are written by me, an officiant, are the sole property of Carol J. Merletti,
and are copyrighted.  Sadly, a scam has developed – since the "one-day-marriage / special license to marry" has become
allowed by some states -- some individuals, certainly not all by any means, "pretend" to hire a Justice of the Peace to
officiate over their wedding ceremony.  Once they lock in their date, they receive vows written by their officiant. Later, they
contact their officiant to inform him / her that they have decided to apply for the “one day / special license for a friend /
family member to marry them.  “We love your vows, however we no longer need your services.” is the usual line, but not
always. While this is, of course, a special day for them to always remember, what is not being remembered is that these
vows were not written by their friend or family member, and therefore, these vows, are not their property to use. Nor should
they feel good about themselves for using them.  If a friend or family member wants to perform the ceremony, that is
wonderful and of course, very special, however that friend or family member should write the vows.

In addition, the officiant, very kindly, and without taking a deposit -- based on “trust”, locked in the date of their ceremony in
his / her calendar, believing that his / her services were now booked on that specific date and time. In turn, they tell other
potential clients who really want their services that they are not available, because they believe that they are not.

Having said that, effective immediately, while I do not charge for vows, I now require a $50.00 non-refundable deposit, which
is part of your $150.00 ceremony fee. Should you decide to cancel your wedding date in my calendar, regardless of your
reason, this fee will not be returned.  Once you have hired my services, I ask that you immediately send out a check payable
to: Carol J. Merletti (Address will be given upon our initial conversation.)

I feel horrible that it has had to come to this. I have always been known to work with my clients based on their word, trust,
and commitment, because I truly love what I do.  But I have learned quickly that I can no longer depend on this because of a
certain few who took advantage of my trust.  My time, and my efforts that I provide to my clients are very valuable and
precious to me. It is a great feeling knowing that I am known for the good work that I provide to all of my clients.  I take great
pride in the vows that I have written for each and everyone one of my clients to make them personal. But now I can no
longer over look the small number of people who have taken advantage of my good nature. Therefore, I can not, and will
not, allow others to take credit for materials that I have written, and will, without a doubt, pursue the matter legally.  If you are
using materials written by Carol J. Merletti – I will pursue it.
(c) Copyright – Carol J. Merletti –  All rights reserved.

The information on this page may not be reproduced, republished or mirrored, in whole or in part, on another webpage or website without
the expressed written consent of the copyright holder and is strictly prohibited by International Copyright Law.
Carol J. Merletti
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2010 Wedding Wire
Bride's Choice Awards
(Listed under Officiants)
2009 Wedding Wire
Bride's Choice Awards
(Listed under Officiants)
2011 Wedding Wire
Bride's Choice Awards
(Listed under Officiants)