There’s a lot of wedding advice out there, from the internet and your mother and your great-aunt and that one married friend from college. Words like “must” and “never” and lists of dos and don’ts are everywhere.
But you know what? Once upon a time, weddings were simple. I believe they still can be.
Here’s the definitive, complete list of wedding “must-haves,” for when the pin-worthy favors and color-coded seating charts are just too overwhelming.
For a marriage to be legal, you’ll need that very official piece of paper.
The rules for wedding licenses vary from state to state and county to county. Make sure to find the rules from the courthouse in the area where you’ll be getting married. The wedding license needs to be for the location of the wedding, not the place you and/or your beau are from.
Prices vary, usually about $20-60. Often there’s a waiting period, so you’ll need to plan ahead, but don’t jump in too early; wedding licenses do expire if you don’t get married within a certain amount of time.
Both partners will need to be present with one or more forms of identification. The amount of personal information you’ll need to provide also depends on the individual courthouse rules, but you will definitely need more documentation if there have been any previous marriages or divorces.
You and your partner will say “I do,” but first you need someone to ask the questions!
There are plenty of options for officiants, including the basic courthouse judge and the traditional religious leader. A friend or family member can get ordained online through Universal Life Church or American Marriage Ministries for a more personal touch. Just make sure whoever is officiating the ceremony is legally qualified for your area, which may require some double-checking with local authorities ahead of time.
If you’re not sure which direction to go, there are also officiants for hire, like any other wedding vendor. You can find one to fit your personalities and vision with a little online digging. This is an especially popular option for couples who come from different religious backgrounds and don’t want two separate ceremonies, as well as couples who have a wide mix of faith traditions in their friend and family circles.
Once you’ve got the paper and the officiant, you need at least two people to witness the union and sign the license. This is where the roles of maid of honor and best man traditionally come in, but legally those witnesses can be whoever you want. All they have to do is watch the exchange of vows and sign the paper saying it happened.
The necessary, important part of the wedding ceremony can actually be just a few minutes long. Wedding vows can be personally handwritten, a traditional religious liturgy, or just cut and dry basics. Legally, all you need is a declaration of intent (the “I do” bit) and a pronouncement of the married couple.
and that’s it!
Yes, really. Photographers and flowers and cake are beautiful, fun things, but at the end of the day, they’re extras.
Weddings today aren’t what they were fifty years ago. Who knows where the industry will be in another five decades? None of those trends or checklists are what your wedding is about.
The only thing that matters is that you’re marrying your beloved. Everything else is just little extras. So remember: don’t sweat the small stuff.