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Can’t Afford a Wedding? How to Get Married for (Almost) Free

Published Friday, Nov. 4th, 2022

Get married for (almost) free with this simple advice, starting with asking a friend to get ordained online to marry you



Getting married is expensive – at least, that’s what they say. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. With a little help from a close friend, you can get married for very little – almost for free! 


If this sounds perfect, keep reading…


The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is about $27,000. This hefty price tag includes designer clothes, hair and makeup, a fancy venue, rentals, food and desserts, music, photographers, videographers, and more. And although it all adds up to an unforgettable party, at the end of the day, none of these big ticket items are really necessary to get married. 


All you really need to get married is a valid marriage license, maybe a witness or two, and a wedding officiant to confirm your intentions and sign your license. 


Of these, only your marriage license comes with an unavoidable fee. Depending on where you apply to marry, this fee will typically be between $30 and $100, and can be as low as $5. 


Only spending $30 to $100 to get married? Not quite free, but it’s a whole lot less than $27,000! 


Here’s what you’ll need to do…

How to get married almost for free 



1. Apply for your marriage license


This is your only unavoidable expense. The cost of your marriage license will vary depending on where you apply to marry. The typical cost of a marriage license in the U.S. is between $30 to $100.




2. Ask a friend or relative to officiate your wedding ceremony


Can’t afford a wedding officiant? No problem! Friends and relatives can get ordained online for free to serve as your wedding officiant.



Note: In most states, this free ordination is all that’s required for your friend to officiate your ceremony. However, in states that require additional minister registration, you may need to purchase official minister credentials and pay a registration fee.



3. Ask a friend to be a witness 


Some states require witness signatures on the marriage license. If you live in one of these states, ask a close friend or relative to serve as your witness on the wedding day. 




Young newlyweds pose with their wedding witnesses after the ceremony, they are outdoors wearing formal clothing surrounded by green leaves, trees, on a sunny day

Ask your best friends or close relatives to be witnesses. 


4. Marry at home, elope, or choose a ‘sign & go’ ceremony


Choose a venue that won’t cost you anything, like a friend’s backyard or a favorite relative’s living room. Don’t worry about expensive decorations or catered food – all that really matters is the love you share, and the vows and promises you make. Tiny elopement ceremonies in public places can also be very meaningful, and generally do not require a permit and can be planned for free.


‘Sign and go’ ceremonies take even less work, making them a very popular way to elope. All you’ll need to do is declare your intentions to marry, sign your license with your officiant, file the license, and you’re married – no ceremony needed! 





Putting it all together…


Following this simple low-cost outline leaves you more money for a future honeymoon, a family vacation, housing costs, or a great meal and drinks with the people you love most. 

You don’t have to go into debt to get married, and you definitely don’t have to spend anything close to $27,000… unless you really want to!


The only unavoidable cost to marry is the fee for your marriage license. Asking a friend to officiate, planning a simple ceremony at home, or choosing a ‘sign and go’ elopement ceremony are all easy ways to get married on the cheap. So cheap it’s almost free.



Cropped image of two young women sipping wine outdoors on a picnic blanket in the grass, with cheese and wine next to them. They are wearing sundresses.

Keep it simple! A little wine, a few friends, and a lot of love. 



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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