Getting legally married and taking part in a wedding ceremony are two different things. Marriage is a legal contract between two people that is filed with the government. A wedding is held for personal or religious reasons to celebrate your union in front of many witnesses. Some couples elect to delay the wedding ceremony for various reasons, while others simply prefer to forgo the complication and expense of planning a full wedding ceremony. If you and your partner are not inclined to have a wedding ceremony, you can certainly still get married.
Contact your local city hall or justice of the peace for marriage requirements in your state. You will need to know what forms, such as a marriage license application, are required. Ask about a filing fee, required identification documents and waiting periods between filing your application and when you can actually be married.
Complete all necessary application paperwork. Some states require marrying couples to complete blood tests prior to marriage. If a blood test is required in your state, schedule appointments with your doctor prior to filing your marriage license application.
Make an appointment for your marriage ceremony. The ceremony can be performed by a justice of the peace or other appointed court official. You can also be married by a friend or family member who has been ordained to legally perform marriages in your state.
Choose your witnesses. If you are required by your state to have witnesses at your marriage ceremony, contact those friends and family you would like to participate and make certain the date of the ceremony works for them. Regardless of whether or not witnesses are required, you might still want to invite family or friends to be there with you. Make certain your city hall or courthouse has room to accommodate the number of people you would like to have with you at the ceremony.
Sign all required paperwork and pay all required application fees. Make certain you receive your copy of the marriage license for your own records.
Erika Sanders has been writing since 1997. She teaches writing at the Washington State Reformatory and edits the monthly newsletter for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a national nonprofit organization. She received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the Solstice Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.