Any ideas that New Jersey would compete with Las Vegas for the spontaneous wedding trade were squashed last month when Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have ended the waiting period for obtaining a marriage license in the State. (1)
Supporters of the bill claimed the change could have helped to increase New Jersey’s tourist trade and its wedding industry by giving the State an advantage over neighboring states for those couples planning a destination wedding. (2) Both New York State and Delaware have a 24-hour waiting period for the issuance of marriage licenses; Pennsylvania has a three-day waiting period.
Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey also has a three-day or 72-hour waiting period for marriage license applications. (3) This waiting period was designed to allow couples time for sufficient consideration of what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment. In issuing his veto, Gov. Christie expressed concern that passage of the bill would only encourage “hasty weddings.” The Governor called marriage “among the most important and life-altering decisions” a couple will make and, as such, one that should be given careful consideration. (2)
With this veto, the rules for obtaining a marriage license in New Jersey remain the same. First, a couple must be at least 18 years old, otherwise parental consent would be required. In addition, the parties must be of the opposite sex (New Jersey recognizes civil unions, not marriages, for same-sex couples), and not involved in another marriage, domestic partnership or civil union. (3)
Application for a marriage license must be made in the municipality in which either the bride or groom-to-be lives, but the license would be valid throughout the State so that the ceremony can be held in the venue of the couple’s choice. If neither the future bride nor groom lives in state, the license application must be made in the municipality where the ceremony will be held and would be valid only in that municipality. (3)
Currently 29 states have no waiting period for marriage license applications. Connecticut and Rhode Island are the only two northeastern states without a waiting period.