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Are Wedding Ceremonies Necessary? What You Need to Know

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People put in a lot of effort to plan wedding ceremonies. They go over and above board, ensuring everything turns out great and that their guests enjoy the event. The planning, budget, and mental input can be pretty draining. And sometimes people cannot help but wonder if wedding ceremonies are necessary.

Are wedding ceremonies necessary?

Going by the law alone, a wedding ceremony is generally not necessary. To get married legally, you typically have to satisfy specific requirements, including showing up with your partner, paying the required fee, and getting your marriage license.

Beautiful couple, groom giving wedding vow at wedding ceremony near lake

This article touches on the significance of wedding ceremonies. In it, we talk about whether wedding ceremonies are necessary or not, and we go over all you need to know about the importance of a wedding ceremony.

Are Wedding Ceremonies Necessary?

Wedding ceremonies are generally not necessary.

A wedding ceremony is a formal event to celebrate a couple’s legal and official union. Without one, the marriage between you and your partner is valid as long as you meet vital requirements.

Legally, the vital requirements for a valid marriage in most cases include:

  • Showing up with your partner.
  • Paying the required fee.
  • Getting your marriage license.
  • Having an authorized marriage officiant officiate the wedding.
  • In some places, you may need two witnesses.

Once the vital requirements – like those stated above – are in place, the marriage is valid, even without a ceremony.

Upsides of Getting Married Without a Wedding Ceremony

  • The process is faster; you only have to fulfill the legal requirements for marriage.
  • It is very intimate. Weddings without a ceremony usually feature only the couple and the officiant. Even if it features witnesses, they are typically no more than two people.
  • It is less expensive. A wedding without a ceremony does not feature splendor. There are no décors or guests, so you only spend on vital things.
  • Getting married without a wedding ceremony comes with simplicity.
Bride and Groom signing on marriage license

Downsides of Getting Married Without a Wedding Ceremony

  • There will be no family and friends to share the big moment with.
  • Some family members may be disappointed that they were not a part of the moment.

3 Ways to Get Married Without a Wedding Ceremony


Elopement is generally a secretive way of getting married. The experience involves just you and your partner. Both of you go away to a destination no one else knows about and get married.

Elopement is a legal way to get married because it involves an authorized officiant and other legal requirements.

Without the legal requirements, however, it is not elopement; it is a commitment ceremony.

happy wedding couple hugging in green garden at old castle. happy romantic moments. elopement concept

Civil Ceremony

The officiant of a civil ceremony is typically a government official. But then, in some states, it could also be a family member or friend. The vital thing is to have an officiant not affiliated with any religious organization.

A civil ceremony can also be an elopement so long the officiant is not affiliated with a religious body.


Self-solemnization involves getting married without an officiant. Basically, you and your partner officiate your wedding.

At the moment, self-solemnization is only legal in some US states, including California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington DC, and Kansas.

You could check the laws of the individual states for details on how to go about self-solemnization. But generally, self-solemnization involves:

  • Applying for a marriage license in a state where self-solemnization is legal.
  • Requesting for a self-solemnization license.
  • Presenting all the required documents.
  • Paying the application fee.
Cheerful newlyweds at beach wedding ceremony

Why Is a Wedding Ceremony Important?

While a wedding ceremony is not necessary, the following highlight the significance of a wedding ceremony:

  • It marks the official start of your marriage to your partner. The wedding ceremony is where you proclaim your vows and wishes to your partner. It can always be a reference point for where it all began officially.
  • You get to share the start of your journey with the people you cherish. Unlike getting married without a ceremony, a wedding ceremony will involve guests – especially the people you love the most. Everything is extra special with all the people you cherish around when the journey starts.
  • You feel special – like you own the day. The feeling of a wedding ceremony is different from elopement. When you have a wedding ceremony, you are at the center of it. Everyone will be cheering you on and making you feel special.
bride and groom holding their hands at a wedding ceremony

Reasons to Avoid a Wedding Ceremony

  • You cannot wait to get married to your partner. As said before, getting married without a wedding ceremony is fast. So, if you cannot wait too long to get married, avoid a wedding ceremony.
  • The cost. Weddings are very expensive. But if you have no wedding ceremony, you can minimize your expenses.
  • You have other expenses on the way, and spending on a wedding ceremony will set you back. If you are looking to buy a house, you could sacrifice your wedding ceremony for the house.
  • The thought of planning a wedding does not appeal to you.
  • You readily feel overburdened. Planning a wedding takes a lot of work, and sometimes, people get depressed because of it. So, if you are the type that readily caves in under pressure, you may want to avoid a wedding ceremony.
  • You feel your families do not know each other well enough. If your family and your partner’s family are not very familiar with each other yet, planning the wedding together might feel awkward. Then again, the wedding planning process might be what helps both families bond faster.
  • You know both families too well. If you know your family well enough and feel planning a wedding with them would be stressful, you can avoid a wedding.
  • You are trying not to make your family and friends uncomfortable. While the primary contribution to a wedding will come from you and your partner, family and friends will pitch in some ways. They could offer their time or money as the case may be. You can avoid having a wedding ceremony if you do not want to put your family and friends through such commitments. Of course, before you do this, be sure that you are making the best choice for them.
  • You are too busy with something more important than planning a wedding.
  • The wedding you genuinely want seems unattainable, and you’d rather not do something less than that.

Having a Wedding Without a Reception

Not only can you get married without a wedding ceremony, but you could also opt to have a wedding without a reception. Doing this is one way to cut down on an expensive wedding budget. It also reduces the burden of planning as you have less to plan for.

Now, if it bothers you that the absence of reception means you will not have a first dance or a bouquet toss, you have other options. Below are some alternatives to a traditional wedding reception:

Outdoor Movie Night

Group of friends watching movie during night time on the rooftop

Instead of a reception, you can have an outdoor movie night with close friends and family members. You can have popcorn, snacks, and drinks while enjoying an intimate moment with your favorite people.

You can still have your first dance and bouquet toss at the outdoor movie night. But more importantly, you get to save some money. Besides snacks and drinks, there isn’t much you will be spending on.

Of course, you’ll need a screen and a projector, but you might be able to get that from a friend or family member. Even if you cannot get them from someone, they are not expensive to buy or hire.

Bride and groom holding a cake at wedding reception outside in the backyard.

Have a Reception in Your Backyard

Another option in place of the usual reception is a backyard reception. You invite close friends and family members over, have some snacks, food, drinks, and music, and have a blast.

A backyard reception would pretty much be like a backyard party. You will not have to spend much, the décor will be minimal, and the moments will be personal.

Restaurant Reception

Another option to consider is having a get-together with friends and family in a restaurant. Like the other options, this helps you cut costs and have fun with your most cherished people.

friends and family eating and toasting wine together in the restaurant

Final Thoughts

You can get married without having a wedding ceremony. Doing so can help you cut costs, have an intimate celebration, and escape the burden of planning. But on the flip side, getting married without a wedding ceremony may keep you from celebrating your big day with your most cherished people.