Self Uniting Ceremony (no officiant needed!)
How many of you know that you can have a wedding without any officiant at all? It’s true! I did not know about this until I started wedding planning, but once I found out about it I offered the idea to many couples. Completely legal, no officiant, just words of promises said between the couple and witnesses to sign the certificate. It’s awesome! This is the ‘how to’:
While several years ago many people were getting ordained online so as to officiate wedding ceremonies for friends and relatives, this option is less and less appealing as more and more counties are challenging the legality of this ordainment and couples have found themselves to not be married after all. A much better route to go is getting a Quaker marriage license. In the Quaker religion there is no ordained minister or religious figure during their services, only congregation members who share when they choose, and a Quaker wedding ceremony is the same way; you simply say vows to each other, and after doing so you and your spouse sign the legal certificate, along with two witnesses, and send it in within 48 hours of your ceremony. This license costs a bit more than the traditional state issued license, but not much.
What is wonderful about this is it allows you COMPLETE control over the design of your ceremony. While many officiants today are very flexible and allow couples a lot of creative control, this option is extremely appealing to couples who want total control, or for those who do not have strong religious ties or beliefs and would prefer to not have a religious figure involved in their ceremony. I have seen self-uniting ceremonies incorporate many traditions from many cultures; Native American traditions combined with Jewish traditions, Middle East traditions with Catholic traditions, along with an array of readings (Cat & Al included readings to represent the North, South, East and West, which I thought was so amazing; signifying all the directions that life can go). You can also incorporate ceremonies that include all of the guests, and can also include religious songs and readings if you choose because you are the designer – it can have anything that you want!
While this option permits you to have no officiant, if you would like somebody there to ‘direct’ your ceremony (as being a bride or groom and be rather overwhelming, and you may want somebody there guiding you in what to do and what is coming next instead of keeping track of it yourself) you can choose anyone! They do not need to have any officiating power as you will still sign this certificate and have your two witnesses sign with you, so choosing a loved one to act as ‘presider’ is a wonderful way to incorporate them and give a very personal touch to your ceremony. Just be sure to choose somebody who is comfortable in front of a crowd!
So, for those of you looking for complete control of your ceremony (or who may be finding yourself in the tug of war that some families create when you start talking about the ceremony you would like) a self-uniting ceremony can be a beautiful option to consider. I have always loved the warmth and creativity that this option inspires!