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Utah votes down self-solemnizing marriages

Published Friday, May. 28th, 2021

Cover image via the Salt Lake County website

A recent bill in Utah that would have allowed couples to perform their own wedding ceremonies was voted down. The measure, introduced in January of this year, didn’t last long, after failing to pass in the state’s House in March.


Here’s a brief look at what the measure would have changed, who can perform weddings in Utah, and a list of states where self-solemnizing weddings are allowed. 


Currently, the list of people who can legally conduct a wedding in Utah includes certain judges, justices, commissioners, US magistrates, Native American spiritual advisors, and adults authorized by a religious denomination to solemnize a marriage (such as any minister ordained with AMM), among a few others. To see the full list, head here


Not on the list are the couple themselves. If the bill had passed, an amendment would have been made, allowing couples to perform their own wedding ceremony. 


In some cases, couples prefer this as a deeply personal option for their ceremony. Self solemnized weddings give couples the option to elope privately with just themselves in attendance, and to have total control over the ceremony. 



Most states don’t allow couples to solemnize their own marriages, but some do. 


These include: 


The District of Columbia



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 instead in the place of an officiant. (Always contact your local clerk to be sure of the most up to date laws.)

Occasionally, legislation is introduced to add a state to this list, as was the case in Utah. We’ll continue to keep you up to date on any changes to marriage laws -- and who can perform weddings -- around the country. 


To learn the marriage laws in your own state, including who can officiate weddings and if minister registration is needed after you’re ordained, visit our Weddings By State pages



Would you perform your own wedding ceremony? 


We want to hear about it! 



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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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