Self-Solemnizing: Choosing Self-Solemnization for your Colorado Elopement
Colorado is one of the best places for having a self-solemnizing elopement or wedding! It’s one of the few places you can marry yourselves (you still can’t marry yourself though) and get legally married without an officiant or any ordained person performing your wedding or elopement ceremony. Self-uniting can be such an incredible and intimate moment that is entirely in the hands of the people getting married. You CAN get married without an officiant in Colorado, and in the COVID times it might be a great idea. Self-solemnizing is LEGIT too – its officially recognized by the state and will make your Colorado marriage license legal once it is signed. Whether you want to have a big wedding, an intimate wedding, micro wedding, or elopement, self-solemnization is a great option if you want to get married without an officiant.
What does self-solemnizing mean?
Basically, it means that you perform your own marriage ceremony. There is no need for a witness, officiant, or anyone else. Once you complete and return your Colorado Marriage License, you’ll be legally married!
How do I self-solemnize?
Whether you want to hum the bridal procession, say “speak now or forever hold your piece” and “you may now kiss the bride, groom, or whoever”, or formally walk down an aisle, stream bank, rock ledge, or snow field is up to you but definitely not necessary. The steps to self-solemnizing in Colorado and to legally tie the knot are very simple:
Apply for a marriage license from the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
Apply, for a $30 fee, in the county where you’ll get married (or want to do the paperwork). Usually you’d both need to attend in-person with valid IDs, but during COVID-19 many counties are doing video appointments. As an example, here are the steps to get a marriage license in Denver County, but the process is very similar in any county.
Complete the application.
You’ll usually need both parties’ state-issued IDs, social security numbers, addresses, and birth places.
Complete the marriage license.
This is where you’ll put self-solemnizing into action. To self-solemnize, both marriage parties simply sign where the officiant would normally sign. And voila, you’re official!
Return the completed Colorado marriage license.
You need to first complete it within 35 days and then return it to the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office within 63 days of the wedding. You can do this in person OR by mail, so no need to stress if you’re having a destination elopement in Colorado and don’t have the time to coordinate dropping it off at the county clerk’s office!
Reasons you SHOULD self-solemnize
Self uniting and getting married or eloped without an officiant can be the perfect choice for some couples. Self-solemnizing has benefits that you can’t get in a traditional ceremony.
More intimacy and privacy
Self-solemnizing at a micro wedding or elopement allows the couple to fully express themselves. For others, self-uniting is a great option because they don’t necessarily want to pour their heart out in front of a huge crowd or grumpy Great Aunt Ethel for that matter. If this appeals to you but you still want to PARTAY, then see what my clients Andrew and Sarah did who self-solemnized for their Loveland Pass Elopement with no guests but had a reception after).
If you use an officiant, then you’ll need to spend a lot of time planning and coordinating the ceremony with them. It’s also important that you pick the “right” officiant which can lead to more pressure. For others, the pressure of religion in their ceremony and an officiant can be a serious challenge. Don’t worry though, if self-solemnizing isn’t your speed there are still great officiants to choose from, or you can have a friend or family member get ordained online to sign your marriage license as the officiant. Heck, you can even have someone that isn’t ordained perform your ceremony and sign as a witness, or not even sign at all! There are even some officiants that will help you prepare your vows for a self solemnizing wedding or elopement, while still allowing you to have the intimacy of preparing your own ceremony! Options upon options upon options to tailor your big day to all of your wants and needs!
More space to be emotional
If you self-solemnize, especially in a micro wedding, intimate wedding, or elopement, there is a lot more freedom to be emotional, take the time you need, and truly express yourself. A ceremony can be very emotional and raw, but the pressure of a crowd, schedule, and expectations can sometimes make openly expressing emotion difficult.
More control over your ceremony
Self-uniting allows you to choose exactly how you want your ceremony to unfold without relying on an officiant. There’s also no need for a time schedule (though I am a supporter of both spreadsheet and ironclad timelines!) or any awkward unscripted jokes from the officiant.
Tips for self-solemnizing
Self-solemnizing does not just mean winging it and hoping for the best (though I do admit it’s one approach to marriage I’ve seen, but it has decidedly mixed results). If you’re ready to tie the knot on your own, think about how you want to remember that moment.
- YOU are the facilitators of your own ceremony: unlike a traditional wedding with a seasoned officiant, if you self-solemnize then you’re going to be leading the charge. It’s your chance to create a ceremony that is meaningful to both of you.
- You can still have loved ones involved: even though it’s called self-solemnizing, you can still have a loved one (or loved ones) heavily involved in the ceremony and even facilitate the whole thing. My clients Claudette and Dustin self-solemnized for their elopement in Keystone but still had a sister ‘perform’ the ceremony and sign as a witness. The only catch is you and your partner will need to sign the marriage license if they aren’t a technical officiant.
- Plan in advance: when you think of an elopement, micro wedding, and self-solemnizing, speaking off the top of your head and making the ceremony up as you go may come to mind. DON’T DO THIS! Take all the creative freedom you want, wear a pink tie or tie dye, bring your hedgehog like Katie and Austin did for their Crested Butte Elopement (which was AWESOME), but whatever you do take time before as a couple to visualize and plan at least a moment of the ceremony.
Ceremony and elopement day ideas when you self-solemnize
Make it memorable…literally!
I hope that the ceremony is one of the most memorable moments of your life. But, if you’re like me, memories escape like my child or any of our animals anytime I need them in the same room together, or the snacks I bring home from Costco 5 seconds after I stock the pantry. For real though, make your ceremony or elopement cemented in your mind by bringing in the following.
- Flavor: if you share a favorite, distinctive food or beverage during your ceremony you’ll get transported back any time you have it again in the future.
- Color or metaphors: don’t get too cheesy on me (or do, who am I kidding, I love it!) but a self-solemnize ceremony is the perfect time for some memorable lines and colorful visualizations.
- Sound: play a song, maybe sing a sing, listen to a song bird, who knows! There is nothing quite like sound to trigger a strong memory.
- Texture: consider using a special physical item, like a leather-bound vow book or silken cloth that you both hold, as a token of that moment. Every time you touch it you’ll get a flashback for years to come.
Make it true to your relationship
If you’re silly, then be silly! If you’re somber, make it serious! No matter what you do I’m going to cry, I always do. This is your chance to make the ceremony into something that is meaningful to you. No need to cater to what’s comfortable for an officiant or anyone else. You are the ones getting married after all — and you’re signing your own marriage license. You have the power!
Hire an amazing elopement photographer
This one might be obvious coming from me, but photographs help memories come awake again. There’s a reason that people used to make wedding photo books and scrapbooks and why most couples will have a photo of their wedding day at some special spot in their house. Photos can be a near daily reminder of one of your best memories.
How to write vows when you self-solemnize
Here are some thoughts about writing your vows for self-solemnizing.
- Have a beginning, middle, and end. You’re telling the story of your love. Your vows can trace your relationship from where it started, where it is today, and where you are going together.
- Get emotional! Even if you’re more stoic than sentimental, vow writing is a good time to let it all out. Especially in a self-solemnization ceremony with a small or non-existent crowd. You’ll never regret getting a little sappy on this day of days. Laughter and tears are welcome and it means you’re doing something right.
- Write them down and have an eye towards reviewing them each year. Re-reading your vows on your anniversary is a stellar tradition in good years and painful ones. Even if you have a full length version, consider a TLDR version that’s short and potent for easy access.
Where can you self-solemnize?
The best part of self-solemnization is that you can do it basically anywhere. There are a lot fewer restrictions on self-solemnizing elopements and micro weddings than for ceremonies with a long guest list. For example, Maura and Bob self-solemnized with no guests for their sunrise elopement at upper beaver meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. For a good starting spot, consider a place that is special to both of you, a beautiful location, and somewhere you can return to easily and happily. Check out some of my client’s incredible Colorado elopements for some inspiration on where some of my lovely couples took their vows.
If you want to get married without an officiant, and perhaps elope or have a micro wedding, then start by visualizing the how, where, who, and when. I’m always available to answer questions, give unsolicited recommendations, and of course photograph your wedding or elopement ceremony! Whatever you decide for your self-solemnizing dream course, I’m here for you! Get in touch with me, learn about who I am, and check out my work!