How to Self-Solemnize in Colorado

Posted On | April 12, 2023

A couple performs a Self-Solemnizing ceremony in Colorado with snow-capped mountains behind them

You know the mountains of Colorado are the perfect adventurous backdrop for your wedding day, but now you need to know how to self-solemnize in Colorado and make it official. The good news is obtaining a marriage license and making your marriage legal in Colorado is pretty darn simple!

Colorado Self-Solemnization Facts

Can You Marry Yourselevs in Colorado?

Yes! Colorado is one of the few places in the United States where you can self-solemnize. This means you can legally get married in Colorado without an ordained officiant or witnesses.

What does self-solemnizing mean?

Self-solemnizing simply means that you don’t need anyone to officiate or witness your marriage for it to be legit. Just the two of you can make it official! Of course, some couples still prefer to have a friend, family member, or professional officiate or sign as witnesses. But self-solemnization is perfect for those of you who want a more intimate, private elopement.

What States Allow You to Self-Solemnize?

Theo only two places in the US that allow couples to self-solemnize without any additional applications or restrictions are Colorado and Washington D.C. The following states will allow you to self-solemnize with additional restrictions/under specific circumstances: California, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Can You Get Married Without an Officiant in Colorado?

Yes! You are not required to have an officiant in order to get married in Colorado.

Can My Friend/Family Member Perform Our Wedding Ceremony?

Yes! While anyone signing as an officiant must be ordained in order to legally sign your marriage license, they do not need to be ordained in order to perform your ceremony!

Do You Need a Witness to Self-Solemnize in Colorado?

No! That’s one of the best parts about eloping in Colorado. It can literally just be you and your boo saying your vows on your wedding day.

Can Anyone Come to Colorado to Self-Solemnize?

Yes! In the United States, each state recognizes marriage licenses from other states as valid. This means that even if your specific state doesn’t allow self-solemnization, because your marriage is recorded as a legal marriage in the state of Colorado, it will be valid in your home state as well. There’s no need to be a Colorado resident!

If you do not live in the United States, please be sure to research what is required for your specific country. While marriage licenses from the United States are typically valid in other countries, it is important to confirm if anything else is required for your marriage to be legally recognized outside of the United States.

A bride and groom help their dog sign their marriage license with their paw print after their Self-Solemnization ceremony in Colorado

Can Your Dog Be a Witness?

One of the most unique aspects of self-solemnization in Colorado is that it often means that your pup can sign your marriage license as a witness! The majority of counties in Colorado have no problem with a paw print on your license, but a few have recently stopped allowing it (Denver and Arapaho Counties). If you’re hoping to have your dog be a witness, be sure to check with the clerk and recorder of the county you’re planning on getting your marriage license in to ensure it’s allowed.

(Pro tip: You don’t have to get your marriage license from the county you’re specifically getting married in. So even if the county of your ceremony doesn’t allow dogs as a witness on your marriage license, you can simply pick your marriage license up in a different county that does!)

Colorado Self-Solemnization Ceremony Ideas

When couples choose to self-solemnize in Colorado, we often get asked what their ceremony should look like without an officiant leading it. A perk of self-solemnizing is that your ceremony can look however you’d like it to! The only thing that is legally required is your signature on your license. The rest is up to you! Below are a few of our favorite ideas for what you could include in your self-solemnizing ceremony:

  • Write and exchange your own vows
  • Sign your marriage license
  • Create your own special space with a blanket or rug
  • Play a meaningful song
  • Exchange rings
  • Share a first kiss
  • Go back through your favorite memories together
  • If you have friends or family present, invite them to share a reading, advice, or favorite memory
  • Create a time capsule to open on your anniversary
  • Have a unity ceremony by potting a plant, blending your favorite whisky, mixing sand, handfasting, or anything else you dream up
  • Read letters from your loved ones

Examples of Colorado Self-Solemnizing Elopements

How To Get Your Colorado Marriage License

The state of Colorado requires couples to apply for a marriage license in person (you both must go together). The marriage license is valid for only 35 days after you apply, so it’s important to do it within the month leading up to your wedding date.

If one of you is not able to apply for your Colorado marriage license in person, you are required to provide an Absentee Affidavit for the county you are applying in along with a copy of his/her valid I.D. and notarized signature.

A bride and groom laugh during their Colorado elopement ceremony where they chose to self-solemnize

Where To Get Your Colorado Marriage LIcense

Marriage licenses may be obtained in any Colorado county, regardless of where the ceremony will take place in Colorado. You will need to go the county clerk and recorder’s office. Some counties allow you to start your application online, like Denver County, but you still need to go in person with your valid I.D. to obtain the marriage license.

I.D. Requirements

Both you and your partner are required to provide a valid U.S. state-issued I.D. with your name and date of birth. Valid identification forms include:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Military identification card

You will also be asked for each of your social security numbers.

Age Requirements

Both parties must show identification for proof of age because Colorado requires each party to be at least 18 years old. If a person applying for a marriage license is 16 or 17 years old, they are is required to provide parental consent and a court order verifying judicial approval if the applicant is younger than 15 years old.

Questions You’ll Be Asked

When applying for your marriage license you’ll need to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Your wedding date
  2. The location of your wedding
  3. If your relationship is related by blood
  4. The city and state where both of your parents were born
  5. If you were previously married, you must also provide the exact date and location of your divorce or previous partner’s death.

Cost of a Colorado Marriage License

The fee for a Colorado marriage license is $30. Payments can be made in cash, check or debit/credit card. Forms of payment may change from county to county, so be sure to check with the county before heading in.

A bride and room sign their marriage license after their Self-Solemnizing wedding ceremony as their family watches

How To Fill Out Your Marriage Certificate the Day of Your Wedding

In Colorado, you are not required to be married by an ordained officiant. Colorado is one of few states that allows the couple to legally get married without a witness or ordained officiant (this is called self-solemnizing) – this means you can literally go to the middle of the mountains, just the two of you, and get married. If you do have an ordained officiant, they will be able to give you directions on how to fill out your marriage certificate. If you are self-solemnizing or are having an unordained friend or family member officiate your ceremony, you can follow the instructions provided by the Clerk and Recorder for how to fill out your marriage certificate that should be provided when you apply for your license!

When To Apply For Your Colorado Marriage License

As mentioned above, your marriage license is only valid for thirty-five days after you apply for it. So ideally, you would apply for it within the month leading up to your wedding.

The marriage certificate must be completed and returned within sixty-three days from the day of the wedding to the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. In most cases, couples will mail it back or drop it off at the same location they obtained their marriage license. Your clerk and recorder’s office will give you specific instructions on how to submit your completed marriage license for recording.

Two brides celebrate in the forest after they chose to self-solemnize in Colorado

That’s it! The fact that it’s so easy to get married in Colorado is a big perk if you’re decided to elope here!

Need a photographer for your Colorado Elopement?

Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two born and raised Coloradoans who have photographed 200+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your Colorado elopement photographer today!

Overwhelmed with How To Plan A Colorado Elopement?

Download Our Free Colorado Elopement Planning Guide & Checklist

40+ pages of ideas, tips, and a step-by-step checklist to make your dream elopement come to life.

wedding couple in the mountains on cover of We, The Light Photography's Colorado Elopement Planning Guide and Checklist

In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of Best Places to Elope in Colorado, and our guide for How to Plan a Colorado Elopement!

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

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2 responses to “How to Self-Solemnize in Colorado”

  1. Ben + Arlyne | Loveland Pass Elopement in Colorado

    […] private spot, with the glow of morning sun and the sparkle of snow all around us, Ben and Arlyne self solemnized their Loveland Pass […]

  2. Adventure Wedding in Colorado |

    […] the trailhead for their ceremony. With the people who mean the most to them present, Kathy and Zac officiated their own ceremony and officially became adventure buddies for life. As a wedding gift, Zac gave Kathy a pair or […]

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