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.
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 the eight 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.
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. ✓