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Ask AMM: "Can I Perform My Own Marriage Ceremony?"

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18th, 2020


The rules around self-solemnizing ceremonies vary by state and can be complicated.

Learn which states allow couples to marry themselves in self-uniting and self-solemnizing ceremonies 

 

 

 

“Hi AMM! I know I can perform marriage in any state for others, but can I perform my own ceremony?”

 

The quick answer is this: It might be possible to perform your own marriage, but it's not a common practice and is generally not permitted.

 

Whether or not you can perform your own marriage ceremony depends entirely on the regulations in the state where you are getting married. 

 

At present, these are the only states that offer self-uniting (also known as self-solemnizing) marriage licenses: 

 

 

  1. The District of Columbia
  2. Colorado
  3. Illinois*
  4. Kansas
  5. Maine*
  6. Montana**
  7. Nevada*
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Wisconsin

 

* May require noting specific religious affiliations on your forms and/or marriage license.

** Montana offers a Declaration of Marriage form which is similar to a marriage license. 

 

 

In special cases, couples in California may be able to self-unite if they purchase a special 'non-clergy' marriage license, called a 'License and Certificate of Marriage for Denominations Not Having Clergy.' In these cases, 2 witnesses sign the license with the couple in the place of an officiant. It's important to check with your local clerk for the most up to date information. (See an example on the Riverside County website here.)

 

 

Of the states mentioned here, a few still require the presence of a witness or two at the ceremony, and most of them will require that you be legally able to perform marriage in your state. (So if you're not already, get ordained with us).

 

However, it's very important to emphasize again that most states require a third-party officiant to complete the marriage license. The states above are an exception to this general rule.

 

If you're interested in performing a self-solemnizing ceremony, we recommend reading and understanding your state’s policies very carefully, starting with our state directory and then contacting someone in your state directly for the most up to date information.

 

You'll also need to call or visit the local county clerk or marriage bureau where you plan to apply for a marriage license to verify your information.

 

 

When speaking to your local marriage authorities, ask them,

“I am a Minister; can I perform my own marriage?”

 

 

 

It's important to consult your local marriage authorities to ensure that you are in compliance with local marriage laws. This article is intended to be informational, and does not consitute legal advice.

 

 

Updated May 2022


 

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