First Published: April 2019
Updated for 2020
Can you officiate your own wedding in Colorado? Yes. Yes, you can. It’s called self solemnization, and Colorado is one of a small group of states that allows this type of self uniting marriage ceremony. Personally, I’m a big believer that Colorado is one of the best places to have an adventure elopement, and one of the key reasons (aside from the epic mountain views and crazy landscapes) is the fact that you can get married without any witnesses or an officiant present (also known as a Colorado self solemnization elopement or a self uniting marriage).
Yup, you heard that right. Not a single soul needs to be present with a self solemnization elopement. The only people who need to be there for a self uniting marriage are you and your partner. Colorado is one of a select few states that allows couples to self solemnize, making it especially appealing for couples looking to have the most intimate adventure wedding possible. Especially with the rise in couples looking to have smaller, more exclusive weddings, the concept of a self solemnization elopement is definitely one to consider.
In fact, about 75% of the elopements I document are self solemnization elopements. But how does self solemnization work? How can you officiate your own wedding? And what do you need to know to make your self uniting marriage happen?
The quick answer? Yes, with Colorado self solemnization you still get the same marriage license. When you pick up your marriage license, it will be exactly the same document, whether you have an officiant and witnesses or not. Whether or not you’ve chosen to self-solemnize or not, Colorado’s marriage license is the same. The only thing that varies is the way you fill out the license on your self solemnized elopement day. You and your significant other will simply both sign on the line where the officiant typically would sign. Cool right?!
You can pick up your marriage license for your Colorado self solemnization elopement at any Clerk and Recorder office in Colorado, as long as it’s on a weekday during their office hours. You’ll want to first fill out an application online to speed up the process. If you’re looking to get your license in Denver, you can go here.
Once you’ve submitted the application, you can go into the office and pick up your marriage license. Just remember that you and your partner will each need to bring a valid photo ID and you’ll pay a $30 fee. And if you’re worried about how to fill out your marriage license after your self uniting ceremony, you can always ask the county clerk and recorder to show you where exactly to fill things in for a self solemnization.
Your marriage license is valid and ready to be used for your Colorado self solemnization as soon as you get it (unlike some states that require a waiting period before use)! You simply have to sign it within 35 days of acquiring it, and it must be returned within 63 days.
If you’re local to Colorado, I recommend getting your marriage license at least a week before your Colorado self solemnization, because it’s one less thing to have to worry about before you elope.
If you’re traveling to Colorado for your self solemnization elopement, make sure you arrive on a weekday to pick up your marriage license before your self solemnization.
Yes, even though the majority of states in the U.S. don’t allow for self solemnization to occur in their state, your self uniting marriage is just as legitimate and legal as anyone else’s. Whether you are in Colorado or traveling to another destination in the United States, you are still considered to be married, even if your elopement was a Colorado self solemnization ceremony. Self uniting marriages are just as legitimate as every other type of marriage.
Just because you’ve chosen to self solemnize doesn’t mean your Colorado self solemnization ceremony needs to be completely different than it would otherwise be. You can still say your vows to each other. You can still share your first kiss. All of the things that would otherwise happen at a non self solemnized ceremony can still happen with a self uniting marriage.
The only difference is you don’t need an officiant or witnesses present at your ceremony. It really is that simple. The nice thing about this type of self uniting marriage? You can get creative with what you do during your Colorado self solemnization ceremony. I’ve included a few ideas below to get you started! Or you can come up with your own unique type of unity ceremony. There are so many options when you’re no longer expected to incorporate typical, traditional wedding standards to your self solemnization elopement ceremony.
In a traditional wedding, an officiant will share a couple’s story with their guests. But with a Colorado self solemnization and self uniting marriage ceremonies you don’t have an officiant. And honestly? I think this is a huge opportunity to really dig in and reflect on your relationship.
You two can take turns sharing your story with each other: recapping first impressions, sharing important moments in your relationship, and letting each other know what the other means to you. Self solemnization ceremonies allow for a truly personalized, intimate experience that isn’t always natural with an officiant present. I‘ve even had couples spend their self solemnization ceremonies just whispering privately to each other while they admire the view…no pre-written vows or anything. There’s no need to have anything written or rehearsed if that doesn’t feel like you. The incredible thing about self uniting marriage ceremonies is that they put the power back in your hands to do what you want.
You can create your own unique unity ceremony during your self solemnized elopement, jump into an alpine lake after saying your vows, or scream “I do” at the top of your lungs into the Rocky Mountains. Or you can write little notes to each other every day in the week leading up to your Colorado self solemnization elopement, and then read them to each other during the ceremony itself. The best thing about self solemnizations and self uniting marriages? You get to call the shots and do whatever the heck you want. It doesn’t get more empowering or exciting than that.
Your Colorado self solemnization ceremony doesn’t need to be a short 5 minutes if you don’t want it to be. You can take as much or as little time as you need! I love the idea of taking a few minutes after your elopement ceremony to just throw out a few ideas for a marriage bucket list. This is a great time to set intentions for your upcoming life together.
Unlike traditional weddings that go by in a rushed blur, when you choose to have a Colorado self solemnization elopement, you can really take time to be present and in the moment. You and your partner can really think about all of your hopes and dreams for your marriage. Write them down. Put those ideas to memory. And then every year, reflect back on the goals you two set during your self-solemnization ceremony. Relive that experience. The intention and heart behind self uniting marriage ceremonies is one of the biggest reasons I love them.
No problem at all. Self solemnization simply means that you two are your own witnesses and that you don’t need an officiant. You just fill out your marriage license differently than you normally would. Self solemnization in Colorado is a nice elopement option for couples who don’t want to have a single person in attendance. BUT there are plenty of couples who know they want to have a small number of guests present at their self solemnized elopement ceremony, but they just love the idea of being able to marry themselves.
Honestly, there’s a bit of excitement and novelty to the idea of self solemnization. Most states don’t let you have a self uniting marriage ceremony, and Colorado is one of the few that does. There really is nothing more “Colorado” than self solemnizing in the mountains. It’s a unique experience that you can’t really get in many other places. So if you want to self solemnize, go for it, whether or not you have guests present! Your elopement, your rules. In fact, out of all the couples I work with, more than half of them choose to have a self solemnization or self uniting marriage ceremony.
So can a couple marry themselves in Colorado? Yes, and while self solemnization might seem confusing at first, self solemnized elopements are honestly such a simple, easy, and empowering way to get married. How many other people can you say that they married themselves? That they eloped without any witnesses? It’s pretty incredible, if you ask us. So if you’re considering self solemnizing, I’m here to cheer you on. You’ve made such an awesome and unique choice. And honestly, the instructions for self solemnizing marriages in Colorado are pretty simple. You’ve got this! And as an elopement photographer who specializes in super intimate weddings like self uniting elopements, I’m here to help.
Monifa + Wyatt’s Choice To Self Solemnize Was One Of Their Favorite Parts Of Their Colorado Elopement Day. And Their Story Ended Up Going Viral, Sharing Their Intentions Behind Both Their Choice To Elope And Have A Self Uniting marriage Ceremony.
We wanted to start our lives together elevated from all the noise with the understanding that we only wanted to go higher in our lives from that point. That mountaintop, and marrying ourselves without an officiant or witnesses, felt like the freest, dopest, Blackest, most revolutionary thing that we could do. And we were right….once we got to the top of that mountain we just felt so free!
Karie and Jared kept things very simple for their self solemnization elopement ceremony in the mountains of Colorado. They didn’t have anyone present at their elopement (aside from myself!). They opted for a shorter ceremony, only about 5 minutes in length, where they shared the journey they’d been on together over the years. To see what Karie and Jared’s self uniting marriage ceremony looked like, you can find their blog post here.
Similar to Karie and Jared, Mackenzie and Jared also opted to not have any witnesses present at their self uniting marriage ceremony. But in addition to sharing their story and vows, Mackenzie and Jared also brought notes from their loved ones along to their self solemnization. They read the notes to each other before sharing their own personal vows. Their ceremony was on the longer end, lasting about 30 minutes. You can find the blog post for their elopement here, if you want to see what their self uniting marriage ceremony looked like.
Unlike the previous two elopements we just talked about, Sophie and David did have their family present at their self solemnization elopement. They had one family member come up and say a few words and help with the ring exchange, but other than that, Sophie and David pronounced themselves for the first time and essentially acted as their own officiants. As I mentioned earlier, just because you choose to have a self uniting marriage ceremony doesn’t mean you can’t have loved ones present. You can find the blog post for Sophie and David’s elopement here.
Just like with Sophie and David, Amanda and Peter wanted their parents and siblings present at their elopement ceremony, but they still wanted to self solemnize. They had each member of their families come up and share words of advice and stories with them. And Amanda and Peter themselves actually decided not to read their private vows during the ceremony but save them for later. Instead, they read a poem during their ceremony, followed up by them pronouncing themselves. Take a peek at their self solemnization elopement here.
I recently launched our podcast “The How To Elope Podcast” to help couples like you navigate the elopement process. My husband Ed joins me as we discuss all sorts of elopement topics, from the perspective of a couple who has eloped too. We have an episode all about self solemnization, if you want to learn more about this epic way to get married.
P.S. As a Colorado elopement photographer, I pride myself on not just documenting your Colorado self solemnization elopement, but helping you navigate the little details as well — like helping you figure out the perfect time of year for your mountain elopement ceremony. I’ve been in your shoes with my own elopement, and that’s why I’m in this industry in the first place. I want to help.
I want to be a resource to you during the whole adventure elopement process, whether you’re looking for details on how to solemnize your own marriage in Colorado or if you’re trying to figure out whether or not to hike in your wedding attire. So if that sounds like your vibe, I’d love to chat with you about your Colorado self solemnization elopement.
***This article is not intended to constitute legal advice. All content in this article regarding self solemnization, self uniting marriage ceremonies, and marriage laws is for general informational purposes only. Information on this page may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Please consult your local County Clerk and Recorder for additional information on self solemnization laws and procedures.***
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