Self-uniting marriage

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A self-uniting marriage is one in which the couple are married without the presence of a third-party officiant. Although non-denominational, this method of getting married is sometimes referred to as a "Quaker Marriage".

By state[edit]


California allows "non-clergy marriage" by "members of a particular religious society or denomination not having clergy for the purpose of solemnizing marriage or entering the marriage relation," provided that specified forms, including the signatures of two witnesses, are properly completed and filed.[1] An atheist couple in San Francisco reportedly were allowed to have a non-clergy marriage under this provision of California law, by entering "atheist" in the box for "religious society or denomination" on the non-clergy marriage form.[2]

Another section of California law allows for marriages without formal clergy (but not self-uniting) by letting the county clerk appoint someone as a "deputy commissioner of civil marriages", typically for a day, who may solemnize marriages.[3][4]


Colorado allows self-solemnization without requiring a special form of application or witnesses.[5]

District of Columbia[edit]

The District of Columbia allows couples to officiate their own wedding.[6][7]


Illinois law states that "if no individual acting alone solemnized the marriage, both parties to the marriage, shall complete the marriage certificate form and forward it to the county clerk within 10 days after such marriage is solemnized." Nonetheless, such weddings must be "in accordance with the prescriptions of any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group."


Kansas law provides that, "The two parties themselves, by mutual declarations that they take each other as husband and wife, in accordance with the customs, rules and regulations of any religious society, denomination or sect to which either of the parties belong, may be married without an authorized officiating person."[8] And further provides that, "All marriages solemnized among the society called Friends, or Quakers, in the form previously practiced and in use in their meetings shall be good and valid and shall not be construed as affected by any of the foregoing provisions of this act."[9]


Maine exempts "Quakers or Friends" and "members of the Baha'i faith" from the requirement for a third-party officiant.[10]


Nevada law provides that, "All marriages solemnized among the people called 'Friends' or 'Quakers,' in the forms heretofore practiced and in use in their meetings, shall be good and valid."[11]


Pennsylvania has recognized such marriages for centuries (due to its Quaker origins and history of religious tolerance) and has offered licenses for these marriages for decades.[12] These marriages only require the signatures of two witnesses in place of an officiant.

The issuance of self-uniting marriage licenses is controversial, however. Some Pennsylvania counties do not offer this form of license at all.[13] Others only allowed such marriages when license applicants could prove they were members of a recognized religion without clergy, such as Quakers, the Amish, and the Bahá'í Faith;[14] however, in 2007, a Federal judge ruled that a Pennsylvania couple that was denied a self-uniting marriage on the basis of their secular beliefs must be allowed such a license.[15]


Wisconsin allows self-uniting marriages, without asking questions, but a form must be signed that states that the government issuing the marriage license cannot guarantee that the marriage will be recognized in all contexts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California Family Code, Section 307". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  2. ^ "How to Get a Non-Clergy Wedding in California". Femme Frugality. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  3. ^ "CHAPTER 1. Persons Authorized to Solemnize Marriage [400 - 402]". California Legislative Information. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a Day". City and County of San Francisco. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  5. ^ "14-2-109. Solemnization and registration", Colorado Revised Statues, A marriage may be solemnized... by the parties to the marriage....
  6. ^ DC Courts: Information on Marriage, archived from the original on May 14, 2014, retrieved May 12, 2014, Pursuant to the "Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2013", the following persons or organizations are authorized or are candidates for authorization to perform marriages in the District of Columbia:... (9) the parties to the marriage (both parties to the marriage must apply in person with a valid government issued identification).
  7. ^ "Eloping in DC: the East Coast's Vegas". Femme Frugality. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Kansas Revised Statutes, 23-2504 (c)". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Kansas Revised Statutes, 23-2516 (a)". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Maine Revised Statutes, Title 19-A, §658". Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 122.150". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania Temporary Restraining Order, Knelly v. Wagner Archived May 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Ward, Paula Reed (September 22, 2007). "Couple fighting for rights over rites". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 26, 2011. However, officials [in Butler county] said they don't issue that type of license at all
  14. ^ Knelly v. Wagner, Federal Court, Western District. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2007-10-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Ward, Paula Reed (September 28, 2007). "Judge says couple can have self-uniting marriage". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 26, 2011.