If you’re in a committed relationship looking to take that to the next step, marriage is often the most obvious answer. But it may not be the answer for every couple. Maybe you don’t believe in the institution of marriage or have had a bad experience with marriage, or simply find that traditional marriage is not right for you.
Don’t worry! You still have alternatives! Here’s a guide to show you how to find your own unique path and how to get married without a wedding.
If having a typical wedding ceremony with all the bells and whistles is not for you and want to elope, a self-solemnization ceremony can be the best alternative.
Self-solemnizing requires no wedding officiant, witness, or other government oversight. You and your partner only need to sign a form.
Currently, you can self-solemnize your marriage in Colorado and Washing D.C. While Colorado makes the process super simple by having the couple just sign a simple form, Washington D.C does require an ordained witness.
This is the simplest, no-hassle form of an intimate marriage ceremony.
How To Get Married Without A Wedding
There are many options to be married without sticking to tradition. Apart from self-solemnization, you can also enter a domestic partnership, have a common-law marriage, or form cohabitation agreements.
Best Alternatives To Marriage
#1. Domestic Partnership
A domestic partnership is also known as legal or personal recognition of a committed and marriage-like union of a couple.
This is a partnership among two people who live together but choose not to marry. If a couple has been living together for a year, they gain certain rights that are defined as a common-law marriage. You still have to provide certain documents to prove your domestic partnership, like joint bank accounts, depending on the laws of the state.
It offers many of the same legal benefits as a traditional marriage but is easier to terminate.
#2. Common-Law Marriage
Common-law marriage involves no ceremony, either civil or religious, no paperwork, and no government involvement. Both partners simply consider themselves married to each other and present themselves as a married couple to their family and community.
This type of marriage is recognized by very few states in the US. It also often poses many problems for a couple because it is not recognized by any institution and can cause legal problems concerning property and inheritance.
#3. Cohabitation Agreements
Another informal marriage type is a cohabitation agreement wherein both partners are planning to or already living together under one roof. This situation allows the couple to negotiate and reach an agreement regarding their properties, savings, and other assets.
This is a practical first step before a couple decides to get married as it allows them to determine whether they are compatible when living together. Although this arrangement does allow the couple some rights, there is a significant difference between those rights versus those granted through traditional marriage.
Process Of Self Solemnization
If you want to go the self-solemnizing route, the process is fairly simple. You will need registration, there is far less hassle compared to a regular church or civil marriage. Here are the steps you need to follow before going through the ceremony:
#1. Find a state where self solemnization is legal and apply for a marriage license in the Office of Clerk and Registrar with your partner.
#2. Remember to have this information and documents with you: chosen marriage date, divorced or widowed records, a valid American ID, and your social security number.
#3. Ask for a self-solemnizing license.
#4. Pay for the application; it cost approximately $30.
That’s it! This is the simple process that Colorado allows for a couple to get married.
However, if you plan to get self-solemnized in another state apart from Colorado, there may be a couple of additional steps involving witnesses.
Self-Solemnization Ceremony Ideas
If you want to steer clear of a traditional wedding ceremony, self-solemnizing allows you to be as unique and creative as you want!
Here are some compelling and memorable ways you can declare your love for each other on your special day:
#1. Write Your Own Vows
While, yes, you can write your own vows for a regular wedding too, but self-solemnization allows you more creative freedom. You can make each other laugh or cry, or both, with your heartfelt vows.
Just make sure that everything you write is heartfelt and true to how you feel. It is easier to be sincere and vulnerable, especially as you both wouldn’t have to recite your intimate thoughts to a hundred guests.
#2. Have An Epic, Unique Ceremony
Make your wildest wedding idea come true with a self solemnizing ceremony — be it going up in a hot air balloon or having an intimate cliffside wedding in the mountains or even whispering your vows to each other on a Friday night over loud music in the bar where you met. The possibilities are endless!
#3. Have A Friend Marry You
Although a self solemnizing ceremony can be celebrated with just the two of you, you can of course invite close friends and family and even have a friend officiate the wedding.
Choose someone who knows and loves both of you and whom you’d want to share this special day with.
#4. Have Two Ceremonies
If you want an intimate self-solemnizing ceremony with only the two of you but would also like to celebrate with your close family and friends, there’s nothing stopping you from having two ceremonies?
You can get married to each other at twilight under the stars and meet up with everyone later to celebrate till the sun comes up!
Which Choice Is Right For You?
Which arrangement will suit you best depends on what you and your partner want and where you are in your relationship. You might want a cohabitation agreement to be sure that you want to marry your soulmate or perhaps you’d like to elope and self-solemnize. A major advantage of self solemnizing ceremony is that it is effortless and legal.