Did you know that Florida is one of only three states that allows public notaries to officiate a wedding? In addition to Maine and South Carolina, Florida allows certified and commissioned notaries to perform a marriage for individuals with a valid marriage license.
If you’re a public notary looking to expand your services or want to be a part of a family member’s or friend’s big day, now is the perfect time to learn more about Florida notary marriage ceremony requirements.
Things to Consider
Before you start reaching out to your circle of friends or updating your list of services, there are a few things you need to consider before performing a wedding ceremony.
Lawful Definition of Marriage
The term “marriage” is defined as a legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a relationship. Understanding this definition is crucial to both the individuals wishing to marry as well as the notary performing the marriage. Getting married cannot be done in jest or as a spontaneous gesture. It must be done willingly and with great solemnity. Complying with these regulations ensures that the marriage is not invalidated later.
Any couple wishing to get married in Florida must obtain a marriage license prior to getting married. Marriage licenses are issued by counties, and you can apply for one at your local county clerk’s office. To get a marriage license, you will need:
- Identification for both individuals. Take a driver’s license, passport, or social security card with you.
- Payment. A marriage license will vary in cost depending on your county but usually costs around $94.
A Florida marriage license is valid for 60 days after issuance, and the marriage must take place during this window. There is also a three-day waiting period after issuance.
Notary Must be Commissioned
At the time the ceremony is performed, the notary must be officially commissioned by the state of Florida. The ceremony would be deemed unofficial if it was found that the notary was not in commission when the ceremony took place.
Must Be Performed in the State of Florida
As previously mentioned, Florida is only one of three states that allow a notary public marriage, so the ceremony must be performed in Florida.
The Marriage Process
Performing a Florida notary marriage ceremony is simple, but there are a few steps you must complete to ensure the marriage is valid.
First, you’ll want to see if the county you’re performing the ceremony in has any specific guidelines for notaries officiating ceremonies. There may not be any, but it’s always a good idea to double-check.
Second, you’ll want to make sure that both parties are present. Another person may not stand in for either individual—both must be physically present at the ceremony. It’s always a good idea to double-check their identity, especially if you don’t know them personally. Check their IDs before the ceremony to ensure you’re marrying the right individuals and that they are of age.
Next, you’ll want to have possession of the couple’s marriage license. Make sure that it has not expired and has been signed by both individuals. Remember, you cannot perform a marriage ceremony without a legal, signed marriage license and may face a hefty fine and even imprisonment if you proceed without one. It’s always a good idea to have the marriage license in your hand before the ceremony starts.
Next, you’ll want to determine consent between both parties. Each person must voluntarily and freely give consent without any evidence of force or duress. As a notary, you should have sound judgment, strong observation, and good sense to know that both individuals are of sound mind. If you notice that either party is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or seems unwilling, you may not want to go through with the ceremony. If both are of sound mind, they should express their willingness to get married during the ceremony.
Now that you’ve ensured you have the right people, a valid marriage license, and gotten consent, you can perform the ceremony. The partners most likely specified what type of ceremony they’d like performed based on their personal preferences or religion.
When the ceremony is complete, you’ll need to complete the certificate of marriage. Have the bride and groom sign the marriage certificate along with any witnesses (if there are any). As a notary, you must witness the signing of the certificate by the participants. Next, ensure the date of the wedding is correct as well as the city or county where the ceremony was performed. Finally, include your signature as the officiant and write “public notary” beneath your printed name.
You may also want to include the date, marriage license number, fees charged, time and place that the marriage occurred, the identification of the two partners, and their signatures in your notary journal.
Once you have their signatures, return the completed marriage certificate to the county clerk’s office within 10 days of completion. The partners will get an official copy in the mail in a few weeks.
Fees for Performing Marriages
Per Florida wedding officiant requirements, a public notary must be paid a $20 fee to perform the ceremony. However, some choose to include additional services such as photography or videography, flowers, or cake for additional fees. You’ll want to discuss fees prior to the ceremony and keep any other services separate from notary fees.
Following the Florida notary marriage ceremony requirements listed above ensures that you’re following state laws and the marriage you’re performing is legal and valid in the eyes of the state. If you have additional questions about a notary public marriage, you can contact the Florida Notary Association for more information.