• Fifty Miles West

Self-Solemnization 101: What It Is and How It Works

If you are the minimalist type that doesn’t like all the hype around traditional ceremonies and weddings, then elopements will be just the thing for you.

Simple, memorable, unique. But what if I told you that there’s even a step further that makes even eloping simpler and more intimate.


If this is something you’ve never heard of and you’d like to know more, read on to find out what it is and how it makes your eloping even better.

What Is Self-Solemnization?

Self-solemnization or self-uniting marriage ceremony is where you can marry your partner without the need for a third-party officiant.

Many states allow for some kind of self-uniting marriage ceremony, and I have the full list and requirements down below.

But practically, you simply plan your elopement in one of the states, you come and pick up a $30 marriage license from the County Clerk & Recorder office, go on your adventure, exchange vows, sign your license, turn it back in and BAM, you are legally married.

For those who want intimacy and adventure on their wedding day, this is the perfect option!

Self-solemnization explained

By self-uniting into a marriage, you and your partner aren’t obliged to have a third part signature or an oversight of a judge, celebrant, or an officiant.

If you are a couple that wants to spend their special day somewhere by themselves and exchange vows without the presence of anyone else, then self-solemnization truly removes all the complications of finding someone to be present or hiring an officiant to perform your marriage ceremony.

You can now legally do it yourself and still be recognized by the government that you are legitimately married.

To be honest, even if you don’t think the government’s opinion on the status of your marriage holds much weight compared to your own commitment (and I absolutely agree with you!), there are still some benefits to have your marriage to be legally recognized.

These are things like immigration, health support, children, taxes, that may not matter much in the beginning, but if you want to have a well-established, long-term commitment to this person, then it’s wise to plan everything well and make it all legal and legit.

It is important to know that if you do a self-solemnization, if some of the states that allow for it, your marriage will be recognized in all the other US states.

This makes it very easy for you to go elsewhere and elope and still have your marriage legalized in your country even though different laws may apply.

Also, if you are from abroad and you want to elope in a self-solemnization ceremony, the US marriage license will still be recognized in most of the countries of the world, so hey, that’s a relief right there!

Of course, that will depend on the type of marriage.

Unfortunately, in some countries across the globe, same-sex marriages are still illegal, so while your US marriage license will be legit, that may not work in your home country, and so you should do some research and be aware of that.

What you need to know about self-solemnization and eloping ceremonies.

Eloping outdoors and having some adventurous activities always gets in the way of you hiring an officiant who would be willing to hike to a mountain top for you and marry you there.

That’s quite unlikely.

Plus, many of the couples I’ve worked with, they want to be by themselves (apart from when the photoshoot is taking place) and hike or enjoy the fantastic sceneries without anyone else around.

And while I can have a whole-day elopement session and step away with a long lens to give you time for yourselves, the officiant cannot really do that.

Away From the Tradition

While there is nothing wrong with tradition, sometimes people like to start fresh and step away from the traditional practices.

You see, having a third person marry you is a historical tradition. There’s simply a lot of habitual act in having an officiant facilitate your marriage.

But if you are someone who doesn’t see the necessity of a separate entity to validate your commitment, then just remember, it’s your marriage so that you can begin it your way. Any way you want!

Do not feel like you have to practice any ceremonial activity that you don’t enjoy just because of the community you were born and raised in. This is your life, so choosing to go about your way is your birthright!

States where you can do self-solemnization legitimately

So, having that said, you can choose a way to get married that aligns with your vision and your values.

If eloping is your way to do it and you want to self-unify your marriage, then, here are the states where you can legally do so and obtain a marriage license.


This state gives you the chance to self-solemnize without separate applications or any other conditions. You can simply obtain the needed forms for around $30 from the local office, sign them with your partner after you exchange vows and elope and turn them in for the record.

Washington DC

Washington is the same as Colorado. It allows for self-solemnizing marriages without any separate applications.


In Wisconsin, you can self-solemnize as well, however, you and your partner will be obliged to sign a form that states that the government of the state does not guarantee a self-uniting marriage will be acknowledged in all contexts.


In the state of Pennsylvania, you can have a self-solemnizing marriage with two witnesses to sign instead of an officiant present there.


The state of Nevada allows for two people to unify in marriage by themselves. Still, you and your partner will need to identify as ‘Friends’ or ‘Quakers’ and get married within the avenues that are typical of those two terms.


In Kansas, you will also need to identify as ‘Friends’ or ‘Quakers’ and follow the same guidelines in getting married within the rules of those two terms. But again, here your self-solemnization marriage will be supported and legalized.


Maine, similarly to Kansas and Nevada, requires you and your partner to identify as ‘Friends’ so that you can get married in a self-solemnization ceremony, and your marriage will be legal and legit.


In Illinois, you can get married through self-solemnization more easily so long as you do it in accordance with the religious or indigenous ceremonies that go with it.


In California, just like Pennsylvania, you can have a self-solemnizing marriage with two witnesses to sign instead of an officiant present there. Here they state that this is available for couples who identify with a “non-clergy” belief system.

If self-solemnization is absolutely your dream elopement ceremony, then let me help you make that happen for you! Whether you want a photographer to turn all moments into mesmerizing photos or you additionally need help around the planning and organizing your whole ceremony, do not hesitate to contact me!

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