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Thomas October 16th, 2003 09:31 AM

Is marriage at sea legal?
Does anybody know if marriage at sea is a legal union? I posted on another thread what we were told in '92 and was interested in responses but haven't seen any yet.

We inquired about getting married on a cruiseship but were told that since it was not performed in any state it would not be official until we had another ceremony, along with the proper documentation and blood tests, within the borders of a U.S. state.

Does anybody have any insight into this? No, I'm not getting married, just curious.


KimJack October 16th, 2003 12:11 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Thomas, Mike and the rest of you Romantics,

Here's a link on Straight Dope (??) which discusses some of the legal issues involved:

Jack (who was once married in a mimi-sub)

Norwegian Dream
Baltic Sea, Aug.'04

Travelnut October 16th, 2003 12:36 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Princess wouldn't have gone to the expense of having wedding chapels on the newer ships if they couldn't perform marriages onboard??? Jmho.

Thomas October 16th, 2003 12:42 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
After reading this article I couldn't help but wonder how the code of U.S. regulations apply to a foreign flagged ship and foreign national captain?

In other words, does a marriage at sea by the foreign Captain, who may be legal to perform marriages in his home country, become a legal marriage "by course?" As stated in the U.S. Code?


LisaK October 16th, 2003 01:40 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
i am thinking that the marriage at sea is just "ceremonial" since you need to have a valid US marriage license to get married at sea.(Would the captain need to be a JP?) I also assume that the marriage ceremony would take place in international waters so it would not matter what nation the ship is flagged under??

pamda October 16th, 2003 04:48 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
I was going to mention the "duration of the voyage" saw.

I dont know the details of how the Princess deal was cut and structured, but in order to be "legally" married in the 50 states (I don't know if it's a Federal law or not) you have to have a license from somewhere and, once the marriage is performed, it has to be registered with the governmental body which issued the license. Clear so far?

In our religion (Religious Society of Friends -- Quakers) we don't have ministers. People sort of "marry themselves" by rising during a Meeting for Worship and speaking to each other. There are, however, certain "legal" words that have to be included in the speakings. Every Monthly Meeting (sort of the body politik of the Quakers) has at least one Registered Celebrant who can sign the marriage license and return it to the State to certify that the "legal words" were spoken.

I don't think it's a legal requirement, but the exchange of speakings is in "plainspeak", that "thee" and "thou" stuff.

In theory (I only know this because I was tasked wth figuring it out for the Quaker "Vatican") a couple can get a marriage license, tuck a "registered celebrant" into their luggage and exchange their speakings in, say, Katmandu. They would be married in the state where the celebrant is registered and the license was issued, regardless of the geographic location.

Like everything else "legal", all this only becomes important when there is a legal wrangle, usually involving money.

We have friends who were married in China. Guess the spirit moved them. He's a law professor and former INS official. We got to talking one night about whether he and Helen were "really" married, since they got married in China but both were US citizens.

They went down to the local Court House and "redid" it some twenty years after the fact.

mbuckellew October 16th, 2003 05:26 PM

Re: Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
That was very interesting, Pam.

Michelle B.

hkolln October 16th, 2003 05:31 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Not sure about legallity of getting married on a cruiseship but here in Florida there is NO required blood tests......You can go to the courthouse, get your marriage license and get married by the notary there all within 15 minutes. That is how we got married 6 yrs ago! So if you get married in Florida you won't need a blood test.

pamda October 16th, 2003 05:41 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Oh, Michelle ...

I was just showing off for Thomas that I DO have the ability to take up issues more serious than antique Hawaiian shirts and tennis shoes.

And that I'm not ALWAYS goofy :)

pamda October 16th, 2003 05:48 PM

Re: Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Helen ...

Blood tests went out the door about 20 years ago in most states that had the rule. The test was the Wasserman test for syphilis (sp?). Some states have a waiting period, others (apparently Florida is one) don't.

I always wondered about the syph test and what the reasoning/logic was behind it.

hkolln October 16th, 2003 05:54 PM

Re: Re: Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
That's good that they got rid of blood tests.

My 1st marriage in 1986 in NJ we were required to both have blood tests done and wait 2 days or something to that effect.....and to top it off they said if one of us gave blood the blood test was FREE...OH my fiance obliged :)

It is just too darn easy to get married nowadays! And getting divorced is even easier.
My divorce in 97 here in Florida we had a 3 yr old daughter and we went thru mediation and agreed on was final in 5 months. In NJ when I got divorced in 89 it took 1 1/2 yrs to get it! YIKES

mbuckellew October 17th, 2003 09:22 AM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
The good news is that here in Florida if you go through some sort of premarital preparation you get a discount on your marriage license. The fee for a marriage license is $88.50, but with the preparation you get at $32.50 discount, so it would only end up costing you $56.

Mark and I did marriage preparation through our church so we get the discount (yay!) Of course, the preparation course cost us $50 so I guess we're not getting the better deal, but it was a great course and really brought up a lot of interesting things to think and talk about.

We have a date three weeks from today to go pick up the license. Technically, we could get it anytime now, since it has to be used within 60 days of picking it up, and the wedding is definitely within that time period. (Yikes!) But the clerk's office is open from 8 - 4:30 Monday through Friday, and Nov. 7 is the only Friday until the wedding that I am off work with nothing scheduled.

Michelle B.

Thomas October 17th, 2003 01:23 PM

Re: Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Oh c'mon Pam, we KNOW Queeg or some other worldy God helped you. <double wink>


pamda October 17th, 2003 10:29 PM

Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
G*d is good, Sabu.

mbuckellew October 20th, 2003 09:03 AM

Re: Re: Is marriage at sea legal?
Great reference, Pam. :)

Michelle B.

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