I am a wedding officiant! The last thing I want to hear is that you can get married without a wedding officiant. That is just bad for business. Literally!
So, Can you get married without a wedding officiant? No. You cannot get married without a wedding officiant. Judges, Ministers and other people who legally sign marriage licenses are acting as a wedding officiant when they marry you. If you are self-solemnizing your marriage you are acting as your own wedding officiant.
There is a common misconception that there is a difference between getting married by a judge in City Hall and getting married by your minister in your church. While the process is vastly different, both have one thing in common. Every marriage needs a marriage license and every marriage license needs to be signed. When the judge or the minister sign your marriage license, they are both acting as a wedding officiant.
What is a Wedding Officiant?
A wedding officiant is a person that meets the requirements set forth by the state to officially perform a wedding ceremony and witness the signing of the marriage license.
Who can be a Wedding Officiant?
Every state has their own marriage laws. Marriage licenses are issued at the county level and each individual county has their own interpretation of those laws. Individuals who may serve as wedding officiants MIGHT include:
Always check with who issues your marriage license to clarify who can legally marry you.
Reasons you might not want a Wedding Officiant to marry you
While some people just fall in love, move in together and get married like it’s the most normal storybook fairytale, for others, it’s a very serious, well thought out, commitment. Formally sharing their hearts and souls in the form of marriage vows can be highly personal and extremely intimate. They may not want just anyone with them as they share those moments.
I’m a full-time professional Wedding Officiant. I legally perform marriages in the state of Indiana because I’m an online-ordained minister. You cannot get married at the courthouse in most counties in Indiana. You have to find a Wedding Officiant. I perform hundreds of wedding ceremonies every year. Many people seek me out because I have a super-cheap civil ceremony. They just want their marriage license signed with the least amount of hassle possible. Others seek me out for me.
Find the right Wedding Officiant to marry you
Many people associate getting married with religion. It’s a very normal thing if you grow up in the US to think that when you get married a preacher is going to marry you. It’s the midwest, bible belt, way of life. Often people think that getting married by a judge in the courthouse is somehow less of a marriage. Some people actually think getting married by a judge is the wrong way to get married and somehow getting married by a minister is the right way. If you are not currently practicing a religion and think you need to find a minister to marry you, it can get very uncomfortable, very fast.
If you are looking forward to exchanging your wedding vows and truly experiencing your wedding ceremony for all it can be, getting married by a judge in a courtroom does not, in any way, feel like the appropriate place open up and speak from your heart and soul.
The term Wedding Officiant doesn’t exactly sound romantic, does it? If you don’t understand what a wedding officiant actually is you might be asking, do I really need a wedding officiant to get married? Can’t I just avoid that part?
The truth is, there are many truly wonderful people who choose to get ordained online so they may have the honor and pleasure of marrying you.
You don’t have to have a wedding officiant marry you. You can have an awesome person, who just happens to be a wedding officiant, marry you. There are plenty of people who decided to become a wedding officiant for the sheer beauty of it.
I became a wedding officiant so I could help anyone get married any way they want. I had an awful wedding ceremony because my parish priest was a complete jerk. When I had the opportunity to make it better for other people, I jumped at the chance!
I bonded with one woman who became ordained so she could perform LGBTQ marriages – years before it was legal.
There are pagans happy to handfast you for a year and a day and sign your marriage license too. They will be happy to handfast you for a year and a day every year if you like. They just know it’s sometimes sensible to also cover all your bases with a marriage license.
There are poets who love to write about love and look for the privilege of sharing their writings with a couple in love. They got ordained online so they could charge money to pay for their expenses.
I have two children on the autism spectrum. Couples on the spectrum choose me to marry them because I’m open to understanding them. Couples hire me so their ADHD autistic nephew can be a ring bearer and they don’t have to worry. If their beloved cousin has a meltdown in the middle of the ceremony, it’s OK. I get it. That’s life.
There are bikers marrying bikers and geeky nerds marrying geeky nerds. I know there is the perfect wedding officiant for you.
You might just have to find the perfect person and make them an officiant.
Just sign the marriage license and do the rest later…If you are truly stressing over finding a person to marry you keep in mind that signing the marriage license is just signing the marriage license. A beautiful, heartfelt wedding ceremony is something completely different.
If you have to find a wedding officiant to help you take care of the legal aspects of your marriage, do that and get it over with. Once the paperwork is complete, you can relax and concentrate on what’s important to you.
Sometimes couples will choose to exchange their own vows or thoughts and feeling before their actual ceremony. They may do it with a minister or they may write letters to each other to read before their formal wedding ceremony in front of family and friends. It takes the pressure off.
More than once I’ve married a couple legally before they flew off to a romantic destination to get married alone, just the way they dreamed it.
I remember meeting a couple in Starbucks and signing their marriage license between their errands on a busy weekday afternoon. There was a woman working at her computer at a nearby table. When we were done she looked at us and said “Did they just get married? I spent MONTHS planning my wedding. Do you mean to tell me I could have skipped all of that and just gotten married in Starbucks?!?” Her parents may not have like that option but it sounded like she would have.
Can you get married without a marriage license? No. If you want to be legally married and have your marriage recognized by the state and federal governments in order to receive the rights and privileges of marriage you must obtain a marriage license, complete it and file it in accordance with your local marriage office.
Is common law marriage legal? Not in every state. Common law marriage is legal in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and The District of Columbia. New Hampshire recognizes common law marriage only for probate purposes.
Victoria Meyer, founder of Marry Me In Indy! LLC has been a wedding officiant in Indiana for over 9 years and married over 3000 couples. She shares her experiences and is happy to be your "Wedding Officiant Insider"