Bill gives control of marriage ceremony fees to counties

Published 4:21 pm Monday, June 12, 2006

By Staff
LANSING - State Rep. John Proos Friday praised the House Local Government and Urban Policy Committee's unanimous approval of a bill that gives local control to county boards and commissions to determine what fees should be charged for marriage ceremonies.
Proos testified that House Bill 6050 will give local control to county boards and commissions to determine the standard fee for marriage ceremonies based on what community officials feel is appropriate. 
The current fee, set in state law, is $10 for a marriage ceremony. 
HB 6050 will keep the $10 fee in place, but allows the county to change it if needed.  
The bill was amended in committee to include a cap of $40 so counties don't create unreasonable fees for the ceremonies.
Judge Lynda Tolen, Berrien County Fifth District Court, first addressed the concern to Proos a few months ago, noting that the law hadn't been changed since 1961.
Tolen said fees would better serve community residents if they were determined by county officials instead of the Legislature.
Tolen addressed the inadequacy of the $10 marriage ceremony fee charged by probate and district courts in a letter sent to committee members. 
In her letter, Tolen said there were approximately 300 marriage ceremonies performed in Berrien County each year and that she makes time to talk with couples before they are married to review ceremony plans and vows.
Because of time commitments involved in meeting with a couple to discuss ceremony locations and vows, this can play a role in determining the costs for marriage ceremonies.