What to Do Before You Elope so Your Marriage Is Actually Legal
Eloping might seem like a great idea, especially if wedding planning is stressing you out or the whole thing is costing too damn much. Whether it’s due to family pressure, financial issues, or a desire to marry the love of your life as soon as possible, you might make a snap decision before stopping to think about whether it’s all on the up-and-up. It is legal to elope—but there are things you need to keep in mind.
Check the legalities where you live
Get your marriage certificate before you jet off somewhere. Marriage laws vary from location to location domestically and internationally, and nothing would suck more than pissing off your family and friends by eloping only for it to not really count for anything.
You’ll likely need a witness and an officiant, so check in on your local laws. Witness regulations, in particular, vary from state to state, according to Rocket Lawyer. Check in directly not just with your state, but your county about who is required to witness your union and what they must do to confirm it. Also, be aware if there is a required waiting period to obtain your marriage license. Ever wondered why Las Vegas is so popular for elopements? Because the laws there require no waiting period between filing for a license and getting it. Hell, you can pre-register online and pick up your license by showing identification there. It’s not like that everywhere, so plan your elopement for after you have all that squared away, not before.
Check the legalities where you’re going, too
A variety of people can act as an officiant, but that’s dependent on legalities and restrictions, too. If you want a friend to be ordained or want a ship captain to do the deed, you have to think ahead and pick someone who can perform that duty on-site with you wherever you’re headed.
Consider that in California, for instance, anyone officiating a wedding is legally required to complete the marriage license and return it to the country recorder within 10 days of the event for registration. Every state is different, so in addition to hashing out the legalities of getting your license where you’ll be living, make sure there someone available to marry you where you’re going.
Other countries, too, can have different residency requirements in place for you to be officially married there. A ceremonial “marriage” overseas might be nice, but you’ll have to decide if it’s worth doing if it’s not official. (And maybe it is—you’ll just have to do the legal stuff at home.)