Can You Marry Yourself? Self Solemnization Guide
Are you thinking about planning an adventure elopement, but you want minimal vendors and guests involved? Did you know you can marry yourself? While we don’t mean actually marrying yourself. Sologamy itself isn’t legally binding in the U.S., BUT self-solemnization is LEGAL in a couple of U.S. states.
Let’s get started planning your perfect elopement.
What Does Self-Solemnization Mean?
Self-solemnization is when a couple gets married without an officiant. This is a wedding ceremony where you can marry your partner legally by having the ceremony you want and signing the wedding license yourself (no need for a signature from anyone else). All you really need to do is plan your wedding ceremony in a state that recognizes self-solemnization.
Who Would Want to Have a Self-Solemnizing Ceremony?
Some may think self-solemnization can be a hard thing to do. While we think there are states that are easier to self-solemnize than others, we believe this form of wedding ceremony can greatly work for a lot of couples! Here are some instances to consider a self-solemnizing ceremony:
You want to elope somewhere epic, just the two of you – It may be a little awkward having an officiant tag along during your elopement adventure when you have no other wedding guest in your party except for your photographer and maybe videographer. Couples who want a “just us” wedding experience should consider self-solemnization to keep their wedding day private.
Couples who want to plan their ceremony their way – while having an officiant is a tradition for many, a lot of couples may not want someone orchestrating their wedding ceremony. Planning a self-solemnization allows you to personalize your wedding ceremony from start to finish.
You want to save money – For couples on a budget, planning to marry yourselves is the way to go. While hiring an officiant isn’t as expensive as a photographer or videographer, it is still an expense.
Guide to Self-Solemnization
- Decide which state you want to plan a self-solemnization ceremony and if it’s legal
- Personalize your self-solemnizing wedding ceremony
- Pick a wedding vendor to document your wedding ceremony
States Where Self-Solemnization is Legally Accepted
While there are multiple states that acknowledge self-solemnization wedding ceremonies, each state does differ slightly when it comes to waiting periods, witness requirements, marriage license fees, and special application requirements. We break down what you need to know within each state below:
Waiting period? Colorado has no waiting period once the marriage license is issued. Your license is valid for 35 days from the issue date.
Are witnesses required? You do not need any witnesses for your Colorado ceremony to be legal.
Marriage license fee? ~ $30
Do you need a separate application? No separate application is required to self-solemnize in Colorado. Colorado is actually the one state we believe is the easiest for couples to plan a self-solemnization ceremony. All you really need to do is obtain your marriage license at a County Clerk’s office, fill out your paperwork, sign your name, and you’re set to go. Colorado also has some epic mountain views too!
Waiting period? Washington D.C has no waiting period once the marriage license is issued. Your license is valid for 60 days from the issue date.
Are witnesses required? You do not need any witnesses for your Washington D.C. ceremony to be legal.
Marriage license fee? ~ $45
Do you need a separate application? No separate application is required to self-solemnize in Washington D.C.
Waiting period? California has no waiting period once the marriage license is issued. Your license is valid for 90 days from the issue date.
Are witnesses required? You will need two witness signatures for your self-solemnization ceremony in California.
Marriage license fee? ~ $35
Do you need a separate application? California has a “non-clergy” marriage license option when applying.
Waiting period? Wisconsin requires a 3-day waiting period, and your application day does not count as a day. Keep in mind your license can be issued on the fourth day as long as it’s a business day. Your license is valid for 60 days from the issue date.
Are witnesses required? Wisconsin doesn’t require witnesses, but you still get two signature spots if you want to invite someone special to attend.
Marriage license fee? ~ $110
Do you need a separate application? Wisconsin requires a form to be signed if you wish to self-solemnize, acknowledging the government can’t guarantee a self-uniting marriage in all cases. If you don’t want to be limited by any of these “contexts”, then an approved officiant should be present during your ceremony together, or you can just plan a commitment ceremony.
Waiting period? Pennsylvania has a 3-day waiting period before issuing a marriage license. Your license is valid for 60 days from the issue date.
Are witnesses required? You will need two witness signatures for your self-solemnization ceremony in Pennsylvania.
Marriage license fee? ~ $100
Do you need a separate application? You’ll be applying for a Quaker (self-uniting) license versus a traditional marriage license.
Waiting period? Illinois has a 1-day waiting period before issuing a marriage license. Your license is valid for 60 days from the issue date. It is also only valid in the county in which it was issued, and your ceremony needs to take place within that county.
Are witnesses required? Illinois doesn’t require witnesses for your wedding ceremony.
Marriage license fee? ~ $60
Do you need a separate application? As long as both parties consent, a couple can perform a self-solemnizing marriage on their own.
Maine, Kansas, & Nevada
These three states allow self-solemnization if you identify as “Quakers” and Baha’i faiths. and get married through those organizations. A lot of these states will allow self-solemnization if both parties consent, but you’d have to fall within the category. If you aren’t sure if you fall under this “Friends” category, then contact the respected marriage license office to ask for more details.
Maine marriage license fee: ~$40
Kansas marriage license fee: ~ $85
Nevada marriage license fee: ~ $100
If you don’t see the state you want to get married in above and you’re feeling bummed you’ll “need” an officiant, remember you don’t!
You can keep your ceremony intimate and just the two of you if you get the “legal” paperwork done before or after your big adventure and plan a commitment ceremony instead! You can still have that just-us ceremony experience and be able to personalize your ceremony.
Personalize Your Self-Solemnizing Wedding Ceremony
Now that you know which states legally accept self-solemnized ceremonies, you can plan your own wedding ceremony. Even though these are our tips for planning a self-solemnizing wedding ceremony, a lot of these tips would also work when planning a regular elopement ceremony! Remember, there are really no rules when it comes to your wedding day. Even if you want to get married in a state where self-solemnization isn’t accepted, you can still plan an epic commitment ceremony!
Write Your Own Wedding Vows
Because you don’t have an officiant to “guide” you through the ceremony, you can actually personalize your wedding vows throughout your whole ceremony instead of just a portion. We have seen couples write their own vows during their actual elopement adventure, back to back. We have seen couples write their vows as they got ready that morning, and we have seen couples show up with letters prepared.
Wondering what ceremony script you should follow for a self-solemnization ceremony? There really is not an exact script you should follow. You can personalize your ceremony as much or as little as possible. If you want to keep things super simple and say, “I do” after a few vows, that’s totally OK! If you want to incorporate some activities or traditions in between, that’s OK too! Your ceremony can be as long or as short as you want it to be.
Here are some ideas you can include in your wedding vows and ceremony:
- Talk about how you first met and reminisce on your journey together.
- Tailor your vows to the location where you’re eloping.
- Include a symbolic unity ritual like handfasting.
- Incorporate any cultural or spiritual traditions that are special to you both.
- Read letters from each other or from family members.
- Include family and friends virtually for a part of your ceremony.
Choose Your Location & Make a Legal Plan
We discussed what states allow self-solemnization. Take time to explore places to elope or plan a small wedding ceremony at each of these locations if you’re planning to marry yourself. If getting married by yourself seems too stressful (which it totally isn’t), or if you want to elope in a different state, then plan a commitment ceremony or team up with elopement vendors to make your dream a reality.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Remember to double-check if you can marry yourselves in the state you want to elope.
- Arrange for your marriage license application and double-check on any waiting periods or witnesses, if applicable.
- Make sure you have the necessary permit information and fees paid for your ceremony location.
- Remember to leave no trace during your adventure!
Incorporate Activities and People You Love
Don’t be afraid to incorporate anything and anyone you love. Include your pets if you want or your closest family and friends. If you want to get married in the middle of the ocean, do it. If you want to get married on one of the highest mountains, go for it.
Whatever you do, plan a wedding ceremony that is completely yours. That is what planning an elopement is all about. Honoring who you both are as a couple. We provide helpful strategies, location guides, and vendors to help you along the way, but you are the one who has the final say.
Here are some ideas for activities to consider:
- Plan a mountain hike
- Go on a hot air balloon ride
- Plan a picnic at a beach
- Organize a helicopter tour
- Camp under the stars
- Plan an epic road trip
- Go on a boat or Kayak for your ceremony
- Rent a private cabin
Vendors For Your Self-Solemnization Wedding Ceremony
While marrying yourselves often means not having any vendors, you’ll want to have a photographer and maybe a videographer there to capture the moment! We have featured elopement vendors who specialize in elopements, whether it be self-solemnizations, commitment ceremonies, or wedding ceremonies with an officiant. Some of our photographers/videographers are even officiants themselves if you decide to go that route!
Adventure & Vow
Traveling photographer for the adventurous, bold, and fun! Defying traditions and crushing expectations, one couple at a time!
We're an adventure elopement photographer team, here to inspire, encourage, and guide you to get married in the most epic places.
Sheila Drakeley Photography
In Love and Adventure – Elopement Photography
Captured by Marcela
Aris Ringas Photography
Southwest Speciality Locations: - Sedona, Arizona - Page, Arizona - Moab, Utah - Zion National Park, Utah
Sabrina Kaye Photography
Run Wild With Me Photography
Karen Castor Photography
We are Anna & Trevor - An elopement photographer duo helping adventurous couples across the U.S. say "I do" on their own terms.