Marrying yourself in Colorado? Yep, it’s a thing. My husband Gavin and I self-solemnized (i.e. married ourselves) in Fall 2018 at our wedding in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I thought I’d share some tips from our experience because I relied a lot on the internet when planning our ceremony. The option for marrying yourself in Colorado worked perfectly for us. Sure, a few of our friends and family thought it was totally weird (it’s certainly not something people see often – if ever – as only a handful of states allow it), but afterwards, everyone felt that it met our goal to be honest to us as a couple during our marriage ceremony. The self-uniting ceremony was very much “us”…and isn’t that what we all want out of our wedding? Read on to see how we did it, including our self-solemnizing ceremony script!
Marrying yourself: What is A self-solemnizing OR SELF-UNITING MARRIAGE CEREMONY?
First things first, marrying yourself in Colorado means you are self-solemnizing or self-uniting. Or more simply put, you as the couple can marry without the presence of a third-party officiant. This is sometimes referred to as a “Quaker Marriage” from its roots in Pennsylvania, which has recognized such marriages for centuries. “Rules” of the process differ state by state (currently Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington DC, California, Maine and Nevada offer the option). The best part of self-solemnizing in Colorado? You don’t even need witnesses, all you need is each other. This obviously makes marrying yourself the perfect option for Colorado elopements, or in our case, marrying yourself in front of 100 guests!
THE BASICS OF MARRYING YOURSELF IN COLORADO
Long story short, it’s really easy. All you need is a marriage license, which you can get from your county Clerk and Recorder’s office. Pro tip: you can secure your marriage license from any Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Colorado if you are getting married in Colorado (i.e. we got our marriage license in Denver County, but got married in Routt County, and live in Jefferson County). All you basically have to do is sign your marriage license twice, as both the officiant and the couple. We opted to still have witnesses sign ours (a big moment for my 13-year-old niece who was my MOH), but you certainly don’t have to. Return your marriage license to the Clerk and Recorder’s office to be officially recorded and voila, it’s official!
HOW DO YOU STRUCTURE YOUR SELF-solemnizing or self-uniting MARRIAGE CEREMONY?
As with most things, there are a million different ways you can structure your ceremony if you are marrying yourself in Colorado. I spent a lot of time with my friend Google, and found the website Offbeat Bride quite useful for example scripts. We were also inspired by this sentiment from Brendan Leonard at Semi-Rad who wrote the following about his own wedding:
We’d ask each other what the point of the whole thing was, and although we never wrote down a theme, or thesis, or mission statement, we wanted our wedding to be something that was half-party, half-creative expression, that communicated how much we loved our lives, each other, and our friends and family. Something that came from us, not from the past, or from tradition.
A wedding should, above all else, be true – and if we were to pick a word to describe our ideal wedding, it would be ‘honest’.
One of the reasons we chose to marry ourselves in Colorado (self-solemnize) was because we weren’t having a religious ceremony and thought it was a bit crazy to pay $500+ for a stranger to show up for 20 minutes to marry us. We also couldn’t agree on one friend or family member to take the reigns as our officiant. A self-uniting ceremony was perfect to give several members of our wedding party different portions of the ceremony that ultimately came together as our wedding ceremony script.
In all honesty, I wrote the script in the days/hours before our wedding, so that’s my excuse for telling everyone the DAY BEFORE that they had speaking roles in our wedding (oops!). We also had the script on a small iPad for people to read from, which was perfect for the day of, and also supported my love of procrastination by allowing us to make a few tweaks leading up to the wedding ceremony.
EXAMPLE OF A SELF-SOLEMNIZING OR self-uniting marriage script
Here is how we did it!
INTRODUCTION (Groomsman Ben)
Ben welcomed our guests, and gave them one opportunity to get that perfect iPhone shot before putting their phones away. He said we didn’t want the guests to date us with their vintage iPhones gracing our wedding photos, which was actually really funny to stand up there and have everyone pull out their phones/cameras to take our picture…and it eased the nerves a bit!
He then read the quote from Semi-Rad (above) and explained that we would be marrying ourselves and that the “One thing they knew to be honest and true for their wedding day was that this affirmation of love would be empty if they could not share it with their most cherished friends and family. That today was also about celebrating the love between all of us, including the love of their parents, siblings, extended family and best friends.” And like any good transition, he handed it over to my best friends!
READING #1 (Bridesmaids Jessica and Jolea)
Jessica began by acknowledging the setting where we married – a beautiful aspen grove – as a symbol of our love for each other and nature. I found and included the following sentiment from another wedding script I found online: “To them, there is something more than trees and the meadows and the rocks; there is something deep, sacred and more striking. The mountains evoke awe and splendor, indescribable and immense. And these are the same feelings they discovered by falling in love with one another.”
She then read one of my favorite wedding poems, the one that when I heard it all those years ago on Sex and the City, I knew it would have to be in my wedding. Introducing the reading from the “renowned poet Carrie Bradshaw” also got a laugh from our guests who were in the know.
His hello was the end of her endings
His laugh was their first step down the aisle
His hand would be hers to hold forever
His forever was as simple as her smile.
He said she was what was missing
She said instantly she know
She was a question to be answered
And his answer was “I do”
Jolea then segued us into our vows by saying “Before this moment, you have been many things to one another – co-worker, friend, fiancé. And to all of us, you’ve been our friend, our daughter and son, and of course, Mimi and Gavs (i.e. aunt and uncle). Now you’ll say your vows – taken from a poem by Tyler Kent White – and exchange rings to officially become husband and wife.”
Gavin jumped right in to begin saying our vows, and at the conclusion, slipped my beautiful Sarah O Jewelry wedding ring on my finger. I then took a deep breath and did the same. It was simple, but so meaningful, and I cherish the simple vows we said that day:
I choose you
again and again
at the start and finish of every day
no matter the season
no matter the year
i choose you
to struggle and succeed with
to fight and make up with
to love and grow old with
i choose you
knowing there are still trails we must travel
knowing there are mountains left to climb
i choose you
to always be by my side
READING #2 (Gavin’s Dad)
Gavin is Welsh, so we knew we wanted to have the Welsh language as part of our ceremony. Gavin’s dad read a poem in both Welsh and English, which was such a meaningful addition to our day. And, the reading ultimately became the inspiration for our wedding thank you cards which will likely always be one of my most favorite stationery designs ever.
CLOSING (Gavin, Me and Flower Girl Emme)
Gavin did a quick thank you to everyone who had speaking parts in our ceremony. He then said, “I guess all that’s left to say is that by the authority vested in us by the greatest State of Colorado we can officially say…”
And I chimed in with him: “We now pronounce ourselves husband and wife!”
It was just the right amount of cheese, but truthfully, the closing was probably the hardest part to figure out because it did feel a bit awkward as we were planning/writing. Luckily, my charming niece and 6-year-old flower girl Emme chimed in right on time with the ultimate close: JUST KISS HER ALREADY SO WE CAN PARTY! Let’s just say, she nailed it.
And with that, we kissed…people laughed and clapped…and we definitely partied!
Self-uniting or “marrying yourself” can be a really heartfelt way to begin your journey as a married couple. And whether you are eloping or having a traditional wedding ceremony, stationery can play a big part of honoring your relationship and sharing your joy with your family and friends.