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Our Favorite Ways to Get Married Without a Wedding Ceremony

Published Friday, May. 13th, 2022

Want to get hitched, but ditch the ceremony? 


Looking for fun alternatives to a wedding ceremony? Don’t have the budget or bandwidth to plan a traditional celebration right now? We get it! 


AMM recently asked 250 engaged people if they would prefer to get married by simply signing the marriage license, without a ceremony or guests present – and the results were surprising. 


54% said yes, they’d skip the ceremony. 20% said they might skip the ceremony, and only 26% of couples said they’d prefer to have a wedding ceremony with guests present.

Pie chart with the heading "would you skip the wedding ceremony?" It shows that 54% of couples answered yes to this question, 20% said maybe, and 26% said no

From the AMM Spring 2022 Couples Survey



Even more telling, perhaps, is that almost half of couples – a whopping 46% – admitted they were uncomfortable about being the center of attention on the big day. 


Read more about the results of our Spring 2022 Couples Survey here. 


That’s a lot of couples looking for an alternative to the same old ceremony. Just like you! 


If you’re thrilled to be getting married, but not thrilled at the idea of a wedding ceremony, consider one of the following lowkey alternatives instead.



A young happy couple outdoors, a man holds a woman up on his back, the couple have their arms held out as if they are flying

5 Alternatives to a Wedding Ceremony 


1. Sign & Go


A sign-and-go ceremony, sometimes called a ‘quickie’ or ‘signing-only’ ceremony by professional wedding officiants, is a great alternative to a traditional wedding.


During a sign-and-go ceremony, a couple meets with their officiant and any required witnesses, exchange their declarations of intent, and quickly sign the license. 


The whole thing can take 5 minutes or less. All that’s left is to return the completed marriage license to your local office, and boom! you’re married. Make it special by meeting your officiant at a special location, such as a favorite cafe, park, or cultural site.




2. Brunch Date


Looking for something that doesn’t feel like a wedding, but still involves friends and family? Meet for brunch – with a side of wedlock! 


First, ask a close friend or relative to get ordained to marry you. 


Then, schedule a brunch or lunch date with your friend-officiant and a few other loved ones. Wear something cute, and sign your marriage license over mimosas and waffles. Perfectly sweet! 




A happy couple take photos and laugh with friends during an outdoor brunch date wedding ceremony

'We do' brunch!



3. Romantic Hike


If being out in nature is your happy place, there’s no better way to start your new life together than on a romantic hike. 


First, ask a close hiking buddy to get ordained to marry you. 


Then, choose your favorite mountain trail, walking path, or bouldering spot, and make a day of it! Head out with your friend-officiant and any necessary witnesses, and don’t forget to pack a pen. You can sign your marriage license and exchange vows at a scenic lookout or under a canopy of trees before making the trek back home. 





A happy older lesbian couple embrace during a romantic hike as an alternative to a wedding ceremony

Walking a path through life together


4. Family Vacation


For couples with kids, the idea of keeping the whole crew quiet during a stuffy ceremony (complete with dress slacks and clip-on ties) can be overwhelming. Instead, ditch the ceremony and take the whole family on vacation! 


Ask a friend or relative to get ordained to marry you and bring them along to sign your paperwork. Or hire a professional officiant at your destination to stop by the hotel pool for a short sign-and-go ceremony. 


Just remember, your marriage license must be issued in the state where your ceremony takes place, and your officiant must meet the local requirements to officiate there. These steps are easy to take care of, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Bon voyage!  





A happy African American family laugh and play on a sandy beach dressed all in white, behind them the ocean and the sky extend toward the horizon

Celebrate your family love with a family vacation



5. Vegas, Baby


And of course, there’s always a quick Vegas-style elopement! This might feel a little too much like a wedding ceremony for some couples, but for others it will check all the right boxes – glam, glitz, spontaneity, low hassle, and a few laughs! 


Whether you get hitched in Las Vegas by a true Elvis enthusiast, or visit a micro-chapel closer to home, eloping is a great way to create the memory of a lifetime without planning a full wedding ceremony. 


Just make sure you know your state’s waiting period before you head to the chapel! 




A neon sign from Las Vegas wedding chapel

Follow your heart! 






How to Elope: The Complete Elopement Checklist


Stylized illustration by Jessica Levey, two hands linked by holding their pinkies together

Illustration by Jessica Levey


Use this simple checklist to plan the perfect elopement, from applying for your marriage license, to choosing your wedding officiant, witnesses, guest list, and venue. It’s always a good time to elope! Make things easy with this list of everything you need to do to prepare for your wedding ceremony!





Will You Marry Us? Gift Box


Propose to your wedding officiant! The Will You Marry Us? Gift Box helps couples ask friends and family members to officiate their wedding in style, and includes everything they'll need to perform your ceremony!



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The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

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