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Wedding on a Budget? In FL, Try a Notary!

posted May 29, 2016, 4:54 PM by AG Pro Serve Intl.

Wedding RingsCongratulations! You’ve just been asked for your hand in marriage by your sweetheart and said “Yes!” Now the wedding preparations begin. However, you’re on a budget and need to find the most affordable person who can marry the two of you.

Well… IF you live in Florida, did you know that a notary public CAN solemnize the rites of matrimony? That is, he or she is authorized to perform a civil marriage ceremony and might be cheaper than the alternative depending on the extras you might need or want. Florida is one of three states (the other two are South Carolina and Maine) where notaries are given authority to do that. Therefore, your marriage will be legal and binding.

To solemnize the rites of matrimony, the notarial act ONLY, notaries can charge up to $30.00 according to the American Society of Notaries‘ website and & FL Laws Related to Solemnizing Marriage (The fee that appears on the FL Gov.’s Reference Manual is outdated since it’s printed.)

But if he or she is preparing you whole ceremony, traveling to you or the location of your choice, providing additional services such as flowers, photographer, wedding cake, etc., he or she can and will probably charge for those (

If you just want to pay the $30., you can show up to a notary’s location and ask him or her to marry you two in a small civil ceremony right there with nothing special. However, I'd suggest you call in advance to set up an appointment.

However, before you head to the nearest notary, make sure he or she performs the rites of matrimony. Some notaries do not perform them and they can choose not to ( p. 3)

I am one who probably will not be performing marriages; I’m not very good with decorations, etc. If I ever remarry, I will just have a very simple ceremony ;-)  I will be concentrating more on other aspects of the office and being a notary signing agent.

So here is what you need to know if you are a Florida resident or want to marry in the Sunshine State (Remember, notaries do not have authority to do anything as notaries outside the geographical boundaries of the state or that do not correspond to the authority they have been given):

Residents: the couple must go together to apply for the license and need to obtain a marriage license from a county court judge or clerk of the circuit court in FL and present it to the notary public before the marriage ceremony. Residents must wait 3 days before they can be married. Return policy???  Probably not; there is another way to skip the 3-day waiting period and you pay less for your license!

So residents have the option of waiting 3 days to obtain your license or they can take a 4-hour premarital course by a provider of premarital courses that is registered and approved in the county you are seeking the license. The course certificate is good for one year. When you take the premarital course, you are issued a certificate which you take with you when you obtain your marriage license.

Fees (Miami-Dade County):

Marriage License

$ 93.50

Marriage application with completion of premarital preparation course

$ 61.00

Non-residents: the couple must go together to apply and need to obtain a marriage license from a county court judge or clerk of the circuit court and present it to the notary public before the marriage ceremony and can be married immediately! No premarital course needed. Interesting!

Marriage licenses must be from Florida! a Florida notary may not marry a couple who has obtained a marriage license from another state.

Everything else is the same for FL residents and non-residents:

  • The notary public performs the marriage ceremony. It may be personalized, and the bride and groom may even exchange their own vows. But, the couple’s vows must reflect their intentions to make a legally binding commitment to each other. Example: Sample of Wedding Ceremony (wording can be changed, “so long as there is an agreement by words of present assent.” That is, it is clear that both are agreeing to marry – last paragraph)
  • Notaries are responsible for checking the expiration date of marriage licenses, requesting valid IDs if they are not personally known to them, making a certificate on the appropriate portion of the marriage license, and returning it to the office of the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court which issued the license within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage. § 741.08, Fla. Stat.
  • Completing the marriage certificate portion of the marriage record is not the same act as performing the marriage ceremony. Actually, the certificate is the notary’s way of certifying that he or she performed the ceremony. A notary should not falsely certify that a ceremony was performed when, in fact, one had not been.
  • A notary public may perform a marriage ceremony for a person who is related to him or her by blood or marriage. The prohibition against notarizing the signature of a spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father does not apply because the notary is not notarizing the signature of the bride and groom, but is only certifying that the couple have been joined in marriage by the notary according to the laws of the State of Florida. Op. Att‘y Gen. Fla. 91-70 (1991).
  • It is recommended, but not required, that two witnesses, other than the notary, sign the marriage certificate in the event that proof of the marriage ceremony is necessary in the future.
There are some restriction when notaries should not perform a marriage or need more information such as for minors,…  and you can read more here:

Marriage Ceremony Info

Solemnizing Marriage

Florida Marriage Q & A

I hope I have provided useful information for anyone who is getting married or is contemplating getting married here in FL.

Congratulations and best wishes!

by Alessandra Jackson

AG Pro Serve Intl.