So you had a covid elopement, but still want a wedding… do you need an officiant?


Sunflowers & architectural bliss at this intimate New York Public Library elopement
Photo by Laura Diliberto Photography

We recently got this question from an Offbeat Bride named Samantha:

Hello, I was wondering about tips for people who don't want to have an officiant.

As in, we get married legally beforehand, and then we're having the wedding afterwards.

In this Coronavirus era, where many couples are choosing to elope or have microweddings out of concern for not wanting to gather in large groups, we're likely going to be seeing lots of these kinds of questions.

There are going to be lots of folks who get legally married in 2020 for all sorts of reasons, who then are looking for ways to celebrate with their communities once it's safer to do so… hopefully that's this year!

Here at Offbeat Bride, we've long had a word for this kind of thing: GETTING WEDDINGED! This is the cheeky phrase we use for having something that looks like a wedding, after you've already gotten legally married.

A few of our favorite examples of "getting weddinged" that we've featured over the years…

As you can see, there are a ton of different ways to "get weddinged." Technically, these events are really just a wedding reception… Samantha is right that you don't need an officiant in any legal capacity.

That said, couples who decide to have a ceremony component at their celebrations often choose to have someone acting as an officiant, but it's more just to have someone MCing the ceremony. Whoever is officiating does not need to be officially ordained… nor do you actually need to have a ceremony component at all!

Really, "getting weddinged" can look like anything you want it to. You could structure the day just like a wedding, but with a friend officiating instead of an ordained minister. Alternately, you can structure it more like a reception — you're just hosting the big party part of the wedding, without the ceremonial part.

The only real etiquette issue is being clear with guests about what the event is and what to expect. Some folks are very sensitive about thinking an event is a "real wedding," only to later learn that the legal ceremony had already happened. This gets into some weird cultural baggage around legality, what "a real wedding" even means, and the whole ugly concept of gift grabs… but the main thing you need to know is that it's important to be very clear in your invitation about what the event is.

If you need advice on that, we've got it!

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