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Do I need an officiant if I want to elope?

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Well, that is a good question and there are a variety of answers.


Traditionally, couples have used an officiant and there are definite advantages to hiring one.

Many officiants can perform a customized ceremony that fits your faith and beliefs or perform a nonfaith based ceremony. The officiant can help with preparing vows and assisting with different parts of a ceremony such as a unity ceremony. But if you are considering eloping you have already stepped outside that traditional box.


One option for your ceremony without an officiant is a civil wedding where you say your vows before a judge at the courthouse. This is definitely one way to go but you may still want more of a celebration. One option could be to perform a civil ceremony obtaining your license and then choose to create your unique elopement experience to continue on either that day or choose another day that works for you and your photographer.


There is also the option of a self -uniting marriage. Also known as self solemnizing.

There are 9 states where you are able to self-unite your marriage.

California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Keep in mind there are various exceptions and restrictions in each of the states. Be sure to do your research if you choose this route.



Another option is to choose the person you want to perform your marriage and have that person become ordained. There may be a very special person in your life that you want to be a part of your small intimate ceremony. If you are getting married in a state that requires an officiant this is a great option. Today's trend in eloping is to plan a small gathering somewhere outdoors, maybe even on top of a mountain or in the forest amongst towering pine trees.


Hiking to a beautiful location with just your partner and your closest friends is a beautiful way to join together with your love. You may choose to share your day with two additional close friends who can be your witnesses. Keep in mind your witnesses can be anyone who is at least 18 years old and is willing to be a witness, perhaps a couple hiking by. Check with your photographer, ( who is that oh so important person that is telling the story of your day) as many times they themselves are ordained or may be able to be one of your witnesses.


So the answer is no, not really. When eloping you do have options that allow you to keep your guest list small, just the two of you or with a few close friends who can also be your officiant and witnesses. Eloping gives you the freedom to create your day just about you two.




Need more info about planning an elopement send me a message.


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