But I Don’t Want to Have a Stranger Marry Us…

... And you don’t have to (kind of!)

Many couples struggle with the idea of being married by a complete stranger. It makes sense. This is the moment that the entire celebration is about – this is the act of joining your lives. Many of the couples I work with are not deeply connected to the legal aspects of a wedding ceremony. They want to be legally married but do not see it as the focus of the day. The ceremony is about making a genuine, life long commitment to your partner.

"We wanted the focus of the experience to be us and our love. Neither of us are religious, so we had no qualms about asserting our selfish/innovative ideas. We didn't see a point in having an officiant who knew little of us or our passionate love be the one to get to unite us. We wanted to unite ourselves! Obviously, the legalities had to be acknowledged, but beyond that we didn't need stuffy tradition or protocol to inform our ceremony. As progressive, creative, and loving people we knew that we wanted to celebrate our love in a unique way, and so we married ourselves. And it was AWESOME!" - Ben & Lisa
"It was very meaningful to us that our wedding weekend, especially the ceremony, be a reflection and celebration of us; that it remain true to our love, our relationship, our commitment to each other, and our unique personalities in every way. It was all very intimate and personal with 27 of our dearest friends and family in attendance. To have our dear friend, Ted, who witnessed our relationship form and flourish, perform the most important ritual and aspect of our wedding was very important to us." - Darren & Rachel
"The one constant that was important to Mark and I when planning our wedding, was having it be an incredibly intimate gathering filled only with our closest family and friends. We planned a wedding weekend, where our guests—only 32 of them—arrived on Friday and stayed throughout the entirety of the weekend, with our marriage ceremony taking place on Saturday. In order to keep things intimate and 'to ourselves', I had wanted to do my own hair and makeup, our meal was prepared with the help of our families, and we had asked one of our friends to perform our wedding/vow ceremony.
Because we were keeping things so personal and intimate throughout the weekend, we made the decision to have a legal marriage ceremony a month prior to our actual wedding celebration with family and friends. We were able to find a local commissioner, wander out to one of our favourite spots in the mountains with her with our two witnesses, and have our own personal legal ceremony. It was important to make our legal ceremony special and personalized. That day is still so memorable to us because we had two of our best friends there with us, and were able to create a whole other set of incredible memories with them.
A month later for our full wedding celebration with family and friends, it was still so incredibly special to us to be able to have our own friend 'marry' us with our own full ceremony that Mark and I had curated. Everything felt so much more comfortable and personal for us both that way. We still to this day do not feel as though having our first legal ceremony detracted from the intimacy and meaning of our wedding celebration with family and friends as both ceremonies were a true reflection of who we are; it felt so right for the both of us to do it that way, and we wouldn't change a thing." - Kaihla & Mark

In Alberta, Canada, registering a friend or family member to marry you is only an option if every Marriage Commissioner is unavailable and provides it in writing (not going to happen – there are too many of them).

So what are your options?

You can have a loved one perform your ceremony – or do it yourselves! Here are some ways to address the legal aspects, for those looking to tie the knot and sign the contract as well.

1.     Get legally married on another day. 

You could get legally married days, weeks, months, or years before or after your wedding date. Either around the dinner table or making a celebration out of it.

2.     Get legally married the night before and date it for the next day. 

The evening before the wedding, the couple and their witnesses meet with the Marriage Commissioner and sign on the dotted line but date it for the wedding day. (To be honest, I do not know how legal this is but I have had a minister do it with a couple.)

3.     Have a Marriage Commissioner step in during the ceremony and only cover the legal requirements. 

If you get down to strictly the legal requirements of marrying two people this does not take long. There are a few statements by the couple and the signing of the marriage license – that’s it.

4.     Following the ceremony, find a private room and have a Marriage Commissioner legally marry you with only your witnesses. 

(This is my favourite option!) After the ceremony is done, you privately meet the Marriage Commissioner and go through the legal requirements with your wedding party as witnesses.

There is also the option of not getting married legally at all. It’s up to the two of you!


Image Credits:

Ben & Lisa's Wedding - Mat Simpson Photography

Rachel & Darren's Wedding - Mat Simpson Photography

Kaihla & Mark's Legal Ceremony - Teresa Renee


Follow Kaihla's adventures on her blog while she captures some of the most beautiful & authentic weddings.