How to Write a Wedding Ceremony When You’re Getting Married Without An Officiant

How to Write a Wedding Ceremony With No Officiant

More and more couples who elope for their wedding are doing so without an officiant. Perhaps you want to just spend time with your person and have a wedding that is truly just the two of you and your photographer, no fuss, no organization, and no stress. You’ll still want a ceremony that has meaning and weight and helps you mark the occasion of making your marriage official. As a registered minister, I regularly sign marriage licenses as a (free) part of being your photographer, but I don’t have any part in leading the ceremony. Below I’ve put together a guide for how to write a wedding ceremony or elopement ceremony when you’re getting married without an officiant.

For your ceremony, I recommend writing yourselves something special. You two will be completely driving your ceremony and you should feel 100% free to do whatever you prefer, however you’d like to do it. It can be as short or as long as you’d like, include serious or sentimental moments as well as funny or silly things; anything that feels right to you both.

That being said, sometimes it can feel intimidating to write a ceremony without an officiant leading the charge and so I wanted to share some suggestions. Of course, you should pick and choose what feels right to you and your ceremony.

How to Write a Wedding Ceremony With No Officiant

A general ceremony plan without an officiant might look something like this: 

Sample Elopement Ceremony Outline for a Wedding Without an Officiant

  1. A moment of quiet together holding hands to start (secular or spiritual, this can be a great way to center yourselves and start your ceremony) 
  2. Each pick a reading to share with the other (can be a surprise to your partner, if you like)
  3. A moment to remember and name those of your family or friends who are in your thoughts during this ceremony and take time to hold them in your heart
  4. An exchange of personal vows to each other. If you’d like to say, “I do” as a part of your ceremony, perhaps your partner can invoke a question after the other finishes (i.e. “Do you promise to fulfill these vows to me today, tomorrow, and until the end of our days?”)
  5. Lighting a unity candle or another symbol of connection (each person contributes something to a singular: two candles light one, two jars of sand combine to one, two bottles of dirt nourish one plant, etc.)
  6. Feel free to pronounce yourselves married! I’ve heard any number of things, but simple and along the lines of a more traditional ceremony might be, “I now pronounce you my husband/wife/spouse/whatever other fun thing you’d prefer” and vice versa.
  7. If you’d like to end it with a simple first dance, you can have a song on your phone ready, otherwise, we’ll let it sink in and then sign your marriage license and make it official!
How to Write a Wedding Ceremony With No Officiant