“Is it possible to get married without an officiant?”
        Well, it might be - but why?
 
 
Letters
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Dear Celebrant,
    Is it possible to get married without an officiant? I've heard that some people have a friend or family member marry them. Is this legal?
        Thanks.
            Joanne
 
Dear Joanne,
    In some states it is possible to marry without an officiant. Off the top of my head, I know that Pennsylvania is one of them. In PA, there is a special marriage license that allows the couple to declare their own marriage, following Quaker tradition.
    There are states that allow people to become "officiants for a day" to preside over a particular wedding. Family members sometimes do this.    
    The Universal Life Church will ordain you in a few minutes at their website. This is sufficient in some states, although not New Jersey or New York, for example.
    So, the short answer is that it is possible, although generally you need someone "authorized" to perform the rite. It varies state by state because marriage laws are determined at that level (and sometimes there are even more local differences, as between New York City and other places in New York State.) If you are interested in doing it, check on the specific situation.
        And then I would ask you to think about how your ceremony will be structured and performed, without a particular person to do that. Obviously, it can be done in a beautiful, and intimate, way. Is that what you have in  mind? Consider what your reasons are, and perhaps talk them over with a celebrant - possibly you will find that an officiant can fulfill your wishes.
        Take care,
            Murphy
 
April 10, 2007 update:
        Last week I was in New York registering with the City Clerk as a Marriage Officiant (yes!!! I am a legally registered Wedding Officiant in New York City!) and there were signs all over the place saying that they were now accepting the Universal Life Church ordination for registration. I later saw a New Jersey officiant’s website on which she said she was ordained by the ULC (and was legal). So let’s just assume that it really is easy to be legalized as an officiant, and that it’s not an issue.
       If you want your Uncle Rex to marry you, instead of a professional celebrant who will not only give you the reassurance and knowledge of experience but will also remain outside the family/friends stress zone, feel free.  
                      M
  
August 6, 2007 - NY Times:
         I open up today’s Times, and the question is back on the board. Here’s an article about the possible illegalities of marriages performed by persons who have been ordained online. So look, I don’t know about Uncle Rex. If you want him to marry you, AND you want to be married legally, do your homework.
        Or, have him do part of the ceremony, and have an experienced officiant perform the legalities, and possibly provide you with a solid wedding experience.