Do you need an officiant to elope? Are elopement officiants different than “traditional” officiants?
This is kind of a loaded question, because the answer isn’t black and white. If you’re raising an eyebrow, sit tight. (haha, that rhymed) I’ll explain. Also *DISCLAIMER: laws change, and every state is different. I am not a lawyer or legal professional. Please look up the laws where you want to get married to be absolutely sure you’re legally getting married!
Ok. Here we go: For starters, the officiant is the person who performs your marriage ceremony. In most states, an officiant is required in order for your marriage to be considered legal in the eyes of the government. This can be someone who’s religiously ordained, a judge, etc.
Some states allow you to self-solemnize, which means you and your partner can get married any way you please. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
Given all of the info up above…that’s just the paperwork. And the “paperwork” side of things is for the government. It has nothing to do with your actual elopement day. I’m not saying that being legally married doesn’t matter. I’m saying that if the legal process itself doesn’t matter to you, or it’s presenting a problem, or the timing just doesn’t line up, you can do it some other time. Sign the government paperwork on one day, and then have your real elopement on a different day.
If you elope somewhere where an officiant is required, but you don’t want anyone else there on your actual elopement day (this includes witnesses! Most states require 1-2 witnesses in order to make your marriage legal), that’s ok! Do the legal part later, or exchange private vows at a different time to the “official” ceremony.
Your vows don’t mean less just because there aren’t officiants or witnesses there. Your anniversary isn’t paperwork day, your anniversary is your elopement day.
Let me know in the comments: did you have an officiant at your elopement? Would you go back and do things differently?
Want to chat about your own elopement and what your options are? Click right here!