Most modern-day marriages in the U.S. are performed by a member of the clergy (priest, minister or rabbi), judge, court clerk, or a justice of the peace; however, a notary public is legally allowed to conduct a marriage ceremony in the three following states: Florida, South Carolina and Maine – assuming he or she follows their respective state’s protocol.
Whether you’re a notary public who’s thinking of performing a marriage ceremony, or if you’re looking to tie the knot yourself, you should familiarize yourself with the laws regarding the “solemnization of the rites of matrimony.” While Florida, South Carolina and Maine all allow notaries to conduct wedding ceremonies, there are certain stipulations which must be followed. Failure to comply with the state’s Statues could result in the wedding being voided.
The Couple Must Receive Marriage License First
Before a notary public can conduct a marriage ceremony, the couple must first receive a marriage license. The steps to receiving a marriage license varies from state to state, but the bride and groom are usually required to bring their birth certificate, proof of residence/citizenship, a government-issued identification card, and cash/check to cover the fee. More details about obtaining a marriage license can be found at the local County Clerk’s Office.
Service Must Take Place Within The Notary’s State of Commission
Notaries are only allowed to conduct marriage ceremonies in the state of which they are commissioned. If a notary public is commissioned in Florida, for instance, he or she may not perform a ceremony in Maine or any other non-Florida state.
Can a Notary Complete a Wedding Service Without Performing The Ceremony?
The short answer is no, a notary public can not legally complete “solemnize the rites of matrimony” without conducting the ceremony. Some notaries assume that the only required action on their part is completing the marriage certificate; however, the marriage certificate is merely confirmation that the notary public (or whomever else is performing the service) has conducted the ceremony. A notary public may find him or herself in jeopardy of losing their notarial status by falsifying a marriage certificate.
Florida does not have any specific requirement for wedding ceremonies, other than the parties verbally agreeing to the union. A traditional wedding ceremony may consist of the notary public asking the bride and groom if they “take each other” as husband and wife, followed by the parties saying “I do.” Next, the notary public will ask the groom to place the ring on the bride’s finger and repeat an oath, and the same for the bride. The final stage of the ceremony consists of the couple joining hands and being “pronounced” husband and wife by the notary public.