Can You Marry Yourself? Self-Solemnization Guide

LAST UPDATED July 28, 2022

Can Your Marry yourself? Your Guide to Self Solemnizing

When most of us picture a wedding ceremony, we imagine a couple, maybe some family and friends, and an officiant leading all of the proceedings. But did you know that in some states, you can just marry yourselves, no officiant needed? That’s right, you can marry yourself. It’s called self-solemnization, and here’s everything you need to know!

Self-solemnization is when the couple gets married without the presence of a third-party officiant. Simply put, this is a wedding where you don’t need anyone except you two (and possibly a couple witnesses) to make it official. You can have whatever type of ceremony you want, sign your wedding license yourselves, and that’s it. You’re officially married!

Reasons to Self-Solemnize

So now that we know where you can officiate your own wedding, let’s talk about why self-solemnization might be the right option for you. There are many reasons why a couple might want to self-solemnize, but all of them really come down to one thing. This is your day, and you should be able to celebrate it exactly how you want!

Maybe you want to get married on top of a mountain. Or over an intimate meal at home. Or while jumping out of an airplane. Whatever your perfect day looks like, if the idea of an officiant doesn’t fit into your vision, self-solemnization might be for you. 

Some of the top reasons why a couple might want to officiate their own wedding:

  • Want to say their vows privately just to each other 
  • Plan to do an adventurous activity together that an officiant may not be able to participate in
  • Don’t want to be held to a strict timeline for their day
  • Prefer to have a non-traditional ceremony 

States Where You Can Marry Yourself

If you are wondering can you marry yourself in specific states? Self-solemnization is not recognized in all states, so the first step is understanding which states allow you to officiate you own wedding. Here’s a summary of all states where some form of self-solemnization is currently allowed.

Note that state regulations regarding marriage sometimes change, so always be sure to double-check with your state.

Colorado and Washington D.C.

Colorado and Washington D.C are the two places where it is the easiest to self-solemnize. Not only do you not need an officiant, you don’t need any witnesses or any special circumstances. You can just pick up a standard marriage license, sign it, and you’re officially married. No questions asked. Cheers to that! 

Colorado also just happens to be my home base and among my favorite places in the world to shoot elopements. Check out all the reasons why!

Wisconsin

Wisconsin also allows unrestricted self-solemnization, with the caveat that you must sign an extra form stating that your marriage may not be recognized in all cases. 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania does not require you to have an officiant, but you will need 2 witnesses to sign your marriage license. 

Nevada, Kansas and Maine

These three states technically allow self-solemnization, but only if you identify as part of the Quaker (also known as Friends) religion and get married according to their traditions. See each state’s individual laws for more detail on these requirements. 

California

California has a “non-clergy” marriage license option which does not require an officiant, but does still require two witness signatures. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Solemnization

As with anything that’s outside the norm, couples tend to have a lot of questions about how it works to officiate your own wedding. Don’t worry – I’ve got you! And if you have questions that aren’t answered below, feel free to reach out!

Is This Really a Legit Marriage?

Absolutely! If you get married in a state where self-solemnization is legal, your marriage is just as valid as it is for those who had a traditional wedding. In most states your marriage certificate will be exactly the same as everyone else’s, and there is zero distinction between a self-solemnized wedding and a traditional one.

Will My Marriage Be Recognized in My State?

Yes. All states in the US recognize marriages that were legally performed in another state.

What Are Some Activities I Can Do At My Self-Officiated Wedding?

In addition to asking can you marry yourself, you are probably wondering what else you can do on your wedding day? Especially if you are marrying yourself. The short answer is anything you want! You can have a formal ceremony with self-written vows, or you can simply sign the paper at some point during the day in between your adventures. Your wedding can be as long or short as you want it to be since nobody is there to tell you “how” your day should be.

There are so many creative ways to have a non-traditional wedding. There truly is no rulebook for elopements, and every single one is different. That’s one of the best things about elopements and something I tell my Amores all the time. It’s all about YOU!

Couple at their hot springs colorado elopement

Can I Have Witnesses Even if They Are Not Required?

Yes! Just because witnesses are not required doesn’t mean that you can’t add them to your marriage license.  Depending on the state, you can add 1, 2, or even more witnesses to your marriage license. And because they are not technically required you don’t need to follow the usual rules (that they are over 18, or even human 😊 ). That’s right – you may be able to have children or even pets sign!

In Colorado, for example, one of my favorite things is to have couples add their fur baby as a witness (just bring an ink pad so they can stamp their paw). 🐾

What If My State Requires Witnesses and I Don’t Want to Include Guests?

There are many ways to get around the witness requirement if you don’t have guests for your elopement. For one, your elopement photographer can always sign as one witness. If you are hiking or participating in another outdoor activity, you can usually find a fellow adventurer on the trail to sign. People love weddings. Complete strangers will be stoked to share in your special day. You may even make some new friends!

And don’t forget that other vendors that may participate in your day like drivers, hair and makeup artists, or guides can also be witnesses.

If your ceremony location is truly remote, you can always plan to visit a more populated area at some point during the day to recruit some witnesses. Have fun with it! 

What If I Want a Private Ceremony, But Don’t Live In/Can’t Travel to a State the Allows Self-Solemnization?

Even if you aren’t eloping in a state that has self-solemnization, you can still have a private ceremony. One popular option is to have a quick official ceremony at a county courthouse or clerk’s office in your state either before or after your adventure elopement. That way, you don’t have to worry about any of the legal details and can just enjoy your day in whatever way you want.

Many couples also plan a small gathering with family or friends after their elopement to celebrate, so this may be an opportunity to include an officiant and witnesses to make it “official.”

The Bottom Line

Wedding culture is so ingrained in our society that it’s easy to get hung up on the details, especially when it comes to what traditions you may or may not follow. Or what other people think about those plans. But here’s the thing: This is your day. You deserve to have everything exactly how you want it and get married in the way that’s most authentic to you. And if your dream day does not include an officiant and witnesses, there are plenty of ways to still have your elopement experience without them.

At the end of the day, your love is what really matters. Not when, where or how you got that piece of paper!

Meet Your Elopement Photographer

Adventure Elopement Photographer

Hi there! I’m Adam. Elopements are my thing and helping couples make their dreams come true is what puts a smile on my face.

I can help you figure out the best elopement package and help you plan the day of your dreams. If you are excited about creating your perfect day or have questions about eloping or self-officiating reach out. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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