From Carla + Dylan:
When we started planning our wedding we had a few priorities, the most important being that we were not going to have anything there we didn’t find meaningful or fun. Our idea of a wedding was the two of us entering together on equal footing to declare a shared decision to spend the rest of our lives together in marriage. We wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us.
We did not start out thinking we were going to self-officiate our wedding. There was someone we had in mind, but life happened, as life often does, and plans change. We found ourselves in need of an officiant.
We’re not sure where we first came across the idea of self-officiating. Carla was following numerous blogs during the planning process, and the most likely contender is Offbeat Bride. Something about self-officiating resonated with us. We were marrying each other, why should we need someone to marry us? In this very personal matter, whose words could be more binding than our own?
There was a fairly brief discussion and we decided it felt right. We were doing this.
Then came the hard part: figuring out how to have a wedding without an officiant. We were already planning on writing our own ceremony. There’s a lot of information out there on that, with the rise in popularity of having friends or family officiate. We just hadn’t planned on writing a ceremony on hard mode.
As people often do these days we turned to the internet. There is a shocking dearth of information about how to self-officiate your own wedding! Hours of strategic Google Fu yielded next to nothing and led back to the same few blog articles and forums we’d already poured over. What we wanted was detailed information from another couple who had successfully done it. What we found was the same repeated legalities.
We even tried messaging people from online wedding planning forums who had asked about self-officiating and who hadn’t received any good answers. A few replied, but those that responded didn’t have any information we hadn’t already found and none of them had gone through with their wedding yet. It was… frustrating.
With the help of A Practical Wedding’s guide to writing your own ceremony, we sat down one sunny morning on our deck and wrote our script. Their guide laid out very nicely the different parts of a “typical” ceremony. We took the parts, scrapped almost everything we knew or had seen before, and created the wedding we wanted. The words were all us, our voices coming through in the writing. We managed to narrow down our readings and we divided up the script between the two of us, turning it into a little bit more of a conversation than a proclamation. We rehearsed the script a couple times together and it felt so right.
We’re happy to share the script with any other couples out there interested in self-officiating! (And have done so already with a few online searchers who, like ourselves, reached out on forums to find more information.)
It should be noted here that neither of us are shy people. We both loved doing theater in high school and have no problem with an entire room full of people listening to us speak at great length. (Just ask anyone who has ever heard Dylan hold court when telling stories.) This approach to self-officiating may not resonate with those who hate public speaking, but there are other ways to do it. Some couples have an emcee to guide the ceremony while they speak what they deem the important words only.
The only words spoken by others in our ceremony were a reminder before the procession that The Happy Couple would be sad if they saw any phones or cameras, five readings (yes, that was after we narrowed down - when you write your own ceremony there’s no one to tell you that you put in too many readings, not that we feel we did of course), and brief responses from our parents.
We could gush over our script all day, but here’s a few highlights:
Asking each other’s parents for their joyful support of our marriage.
Asking each other to take one another as spouses.
Pronouncing ourselves as husband and wife.
The closing line (which Carla is particularly proud of): “We’re going to kiss now.” You have to picture her saying that just before we tossed our ceremony scripts over our shoulders and went in for a kiss. (Note from Rob + Sam: This was epic, check out the link to their wedding pictures below!)
Logistically speaking, we got married at Blue Mound State Park’s amphitheater. We brought in our own sound equipment and had two microphones set up next to each other on the stage, one for each of us to use. After those standing with us made their way in we walked up together and took the stage. Entering together, on equal footing, to declare to our friends and family we had made this decision.
Self-officiating is not that common around here and we don’t personally know anyone else who has done it. What we were prepared for, but didn’t happen, was a lot of questions from our family and friends. We didn’t build an explanation about self-officiating into the ceremony as we had read about some couples doing, and we didn’t have programs to talk about it either. There was simply a sign upon entering which listed everyone who would be appearing in the ceremony. It listed Carla and Dylan as “Officiants”. We did field a few questions in the planning process, but most of our friends and family are pretty open-minded and no one really questioned our decision.
What others have told us about their impression of and experience at our wedding aligns exactly with our goal: it was the most “us” it possibly could have been. Everything there reflected who we are in some way and looking back it’s really hard to say we would have done anything differently. No regrets, especially about self-officiating. We can’t help but smile when we look at the pictures and remember it all. It was perfect.
From Rob + Sam:
Carla + Dylan's wedding was a joy to photograph! If you'd like to see our favorites of their wedding photos (and we strongly encourage you to check them out!) click here.
If you're thinking of self-officiating, make sure to check with your local registrar of deeds in the county you're getting married for any legal requirements you'll need to comply with. This post is not intended to give legal advice.
Lastly, if you have any weddings that you've seen of ours where you'd love to hear the couple's perspective, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which ones! We'd love to have more guest posts and would love your input on which ones you want to see!