Stay up to date with the latest wedding ceremony trends, script writing inspiration, tips and advice for first-time officiants, and news that matters to couples and wedding ministers.

Can I Get A Witness? Small Ceremonies, Witness Requirements, and Self-Solemnizing Marriages Revisited

Published Monday, Sep. 14th, 2020

Just how small can a ceremony get and still meet all the legal requirements?


It’s not an uncommon question these days. Elopements and microweddings remain a popular choice for couples as we head into fall, so let’s review the states where witnesses will need to join couples and officiants at the ceremony… and the few places where couples can officiate weddings on their own!


The majority of U.S. states and territories (30, in fact!) don’t require witnesses. Of those, five states don’t require a third-person officiant, either.


This makes Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, and Pennsylvania the places where the smallest ceremonies - a party of two - are possible. These states allow couples to self-solemnize their marriage, and don't require any witnesses. 


Here’s the full list of U.S. state and territory witness requirements, from none to one to two: Witness Requirements on Marriage License


And here’s a list of states where couples can officiate their own wedding (but may still need witnesses present): 



Ask AMM: Can I Perform My Own Marriage Ceremony?






Keep in mind that even if a state is on this short list, you’ll need to spend some extra time getting familiar with your state’s policies to make sure you are in compliance with the latest rules.


And finally, there’s one small addendum to this, unique to the times. To help reduce public health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of states are allowing officiants to conduct ceremonies remotely, via video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype. They include California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.


(Read: These states are where you can - and can’t - get married online.)



So, how small can a ceremony get? Do you need a witness?


The answer is, it depends! Be sure to double check the laws in your state to make sure your microwedding checks all the boxes. ✓



You might also like: 



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.

How To Officiate By State

Will You Marry Us? Gift Package

Who Will Officiate Your Wedding?

Choose Your Officiant with our "Will You Marry Us?" Gift Package.

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Signature Wedding Officiant Package

Our premiere package contains everyting you need to officiate like a pro.

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

The Book of Wedding Vows and Ceremonies

It's finally here! Timeless scripts and heartfelt vow inspiration to bring life to your ceremony.

Professional Wedding Officiant Certification Course

Learn from the Pros to Officiate with Confidence!

Wedding Officiant Training

Wedding Officiant Training

Everything you need to know to officiate.

Read our sample wedding ceremony scripts online

Sample Wedding Ceremony Scripts

Need inspiration? Check out our free ceremony scripts!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!


Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!