What is an Elopement Officiant (and Why Do I Need One?)
Many states require a certified individual to officiate elopement ceremonies. Here’s how (and when!) to incorporate an elopement officiant into your special day.
Chances are if you are planning an elopement, you are caught up in the details of planning authentic ceremony ideas or discovering the most epic location to say your vows. While it is easy to get caught up in the fun details of the planning process, it is important to remember that an elopement is a legal ceremony. This means there are a few logistical boxes that need to be checked to officially tie the knot. One of those legal requirements? An elopement officiant certified in the state you are getting married.
So who can be an elopement officiant, and what is their role within your ceremony? For those leaning towards a more non-traditional ceremony, are there any requirements for what this individual can or cannot do? I will help you understand the role of an elopement officiant, and how to authentically incorporate one into your adventure elopement. You will find that the addition of an elopement officiant adds a unique dimension to your ceremony as a whole.
Understanding the Logistics: Your Elopement Officiant
You have probably learned by now that marriage laws vary from state to state with different requirements for witnesses, wait times, and of course, elopement officiants. The state of Washington (and all of the states in our epic Pacific Northwest) requires a certified officiant to legally marry you and your partner.
Though an elopement officiant is necessary, the law is quite lenient on who can be an officiant. Washington state allows most individuals over the age of 18 who are certified officiants to conduct your ceremony. If you have a special family member or friend you would like to include on your special day, they can easily get their certification, legally officiate the ceremony and sign your wedding certificate.
For those looking for an intimate “just the two of us” ceremony, keep in mind that some elopement photographers also serve as elopement officiants, creating the private ceremony you dreamed of, (with stunning photos to match.)
Your Elopement Officiant: Ensuring Your Officiant Aligns with Your Values and Style
Whoever you choose to be your elopement officiant, make sure they are capable of traveling to your ceremony location! For many couples, an elopement includes a hike (or snowshoe, or paddle) to a remote adventure location. Your elopement officiant should be comfortable getting to your ceremony location and be okay braving the elements if that’s what your elopement entails.
Whether you choose a third-party officiant, or a close friend or family member to lead you through your vows on your special day, your officiant should communicate directly with you and your partner to understand what you expect from the ceremony as a whole. Let them know what your values are! Tell the officiant what you would like to have incorporated into your ceremony, and what you would prefer to be left out. (And if you need some ideas on how to make your ceremony unique and authentic, check out the ideas here.)
Image of Outshined Photography performing ceremony taken by Siennaplusjosh at https://siennaplusjosh.com/index.html
Honoring Your Day: Why I Love Being an Elopement Officiant
You may have figured out by now that I am not only an elopement planner and photographer but also an elopement officiant. Why? Because incorporating a couple’s customs, passions, and love in the great outdoors into one ceremony is hard to beat. I love being able to make your day as magical as possible. Being an elopement officiant that isn’t afraid to brave a snowy hike or early morning wake-up call is what I do best.
I am often asked, “How can you be a photographer and officiate an elopement at the same time?” The answer? Planning ahead! The couple and officiant will plan out their ceremony together, including the words to be said and the readings to be shared. If guests are present, the couple may ask them to participate in readings, songs, or other memorable aspects of the ceremony, leaving the final pronouncement to the elopement officiant (me!)
We follow a similar plan for those without guests, this time with me leading the introduction and pronouncing the couple as married for the first time. Remember, elopement ceremonies are generally short, sweet, intimate, and flexible. This means there is no problem announcing the newly married couple and capturing a shot of their first kiss.
Image of Outshined Photography performing Elopement Ceremony taken by Jess of https://bloomandwanderco.com/
Finding the Right Elopement Officiant for the Ceremony You will Never Forget
No matter who you choose as your elopement officiant, rest assured that you are creating an intentional, authentic day to celebrate the love of you and your partner. Review the laws in the state that you are eloping, and don’t be afraid to ask your officiant the tough questions (like “Is a seven-mile hike doable for you?” or “We want our ceremony as simple as possible, are you able to stick with our script?”) If you have additional questions about how I can support you in the elopement planning process, or serve as your elopement officiant, then don’t hesitate to reach out! I can’t wait to learn more about your elopement traditions and how I can help you create the most magical ceremony imaginable. I can’t wait to talk with you soon!
Elopement officiants are such an important and often times overlooked aspect of an elopement, love the ideas you’ve shared!
SO great that you are an officiant, planner and photographer, so useful that you have all of those skills. Eloping couples must find that incredibly valuable!
Couples do tend to forget this important details sometimes and having an officiant who share the same values as you is just as crucial.
Thanks for this little guide!
Thank you for reading about the importance of having an officiant for your elopement.
Excellent advice for elopements! Thanks for sharing!!
So informative! Definitely an easy detail to slip through the cracks until it’s too late. Everyone planning an elopement should read this!
I appreciate your comments and reading this blog.
Such an well written and informative post! Thanks for putting it together!
This is so informative, and much appreciated on a less-discussed topic (but no less important)! Thank you for sharing, Stacy 🙂
Your images are stunning too – I love the snowy forest ceremony (and the little doggy)!