How to Elope in Michigan (Legally)

Need to know how to legally elope in Michigan? Do you have to have an officiant and witnesses? What forms do you need? There are options when it comes to planning an elopement and “making it official”. Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about them!

Hiring a Wedding Officiant for Your Elopement

You can hire someone to officiate your wedding ceremony for you. An experienced officiant will guide your ceremony, and help you complete the required forms that make your marriage legal. Professional officiants are required to mail the forms in for you, so you won’t have to worry about it. You can expect to spend $200-$400 on an officiant, (or more if there is travel or long hours involved).

Pros to hiring an officiant: Your officiant will guide you through your ceremony, so you won’t have to worry about what to say. They’ll take care of the legal forms.

Cons to hiring an officiant: Some couples might not want another person present and being “in charge” of their wedding ceremony. Non-religious couples or non-traditional couples might have a hard time finding an officiant who can work with their needs.

Doing the Paperwork Separately

Another popular option is to complete your legal paperwork separately from your wedding ceremony. You can hire a wedding officiant to meet with you somewhere (a coffee shop works just fine) and just complete your paperwork for you. Another way to do this is to have a separate, civil ceremony (a judge at a courthouse will perform a legal ceremony) and then you can have your “real” wedding ceremony be anywhere and anyhow you dream of it!

Pros to doing the paperwork separately: You’ll be free to plan your ceremony yourselves and have it as private as possible. You won’t have to worry about anyone listening in on your private vows.

Cons to doing the paperwork separately: You will have to plan your ceremony and what to say to each other. Your official legal date will be different than the day of your ceremony.

A Self-Uniting Marriage

In certain states in the US, it is legal to marry yourselves in a “self-solemnizing” ceremony. That means you don’t need an officiant- you can fill out your own paperwork, mail it in, and it’s totally legal. With this option you can even have a family member or friend “officiate” your ceremony if they aren’t ordained. Currently, you can self-marry in Colorado, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.

In Michigan, you need your marriage license to be signed by a legally ordained minister as well as two individual witnesses besides yourselves.

Pros to a self-uniting marriage: You can take control of your wedding ceremony and do whatever feels right to you. It can be totally private. Your legal marriage date will be the same as your wedding day.

Cons to a self-uniting marriage: It’s only legal in certain locations, and Michigan is not one of them.

If you are interested in performing your own marriage ceremony, I can help with that. I am a legally ordained wedding minister and am happy to help you by pronouncing your marriage, signing your marriage license, and providing or finding witnesses for you.

Witnesses for your Elopement

In the state of Michigan, you are required to have two witnesses sign your marriage license in order for it to be legally recorded. You can ask two of your guests, your family, or even complete strangers if you want!

Michigan Marriage Requirements

To be legally married in Michigan, you need all of the following:

  • To both be over the age of 18 and not related
  • Couples must apply for a marriage license in person at the county clerk where they reside
    (if in Michigan). If you live outside of Michigan, you need to visit the county clerk in the county where your wedding will take place. There is a minimum 3 day waiting period for your license. Marriage licenses are valid for 33 days. Michigan residents can use their license state-wide. Check with your county clerk’s office for all requirements and fees.
  • Once the ceremony is complete, it’s the clergyman or minister’s duty to fill in the marriage certificate, marking the official time and place of the marriage.
  • The marriage license must be signed by two additional witnesses of at least 18 years of age.
  • The signed marriage license must be returned to the same county clerk it was obtained within 10 days of the ceremony.
  • Any couple regardless of sex, religion or other may be married legally in Michigan.

Getting Married Outside of Michigan

Each state has different laws when it comes to marriage, so you’ll want to check to see what you need for your marriage to be legal. If you’re getting married outside of Michigan, here are some things you’ll want to know:

  • How to obtain a marriage license
  • ID requirements
  • Is there a waiting period after you apply for a marriage license?
  • Is there a waiting period after obtaining a marriage license?
  • What are the fees?
  • Do you need any witnesses to sign your marriage license?
  • How does the marriage license get recorded?
  • How do you get copies of your marriage certificate?

Are you planning an elopement or thinking about if an elopement is right for you? I’d love to help you brainstorm! Just reach out and let’s talk about what your dream elopement might look like!

Similar Posts