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How to plan an Oklahoma elopement

October 16, 2020

Where to start on your Oklahoma elopement plans

Oklahoma couples who are thinking of planning an elopement ceremony in our wonderful state might not even know where to begin! Hopefully I can help you with that. Read on for Oklahoma elopement 101, including laws, planning tips, and some amazing elopement ceremony location ideas right here in Oklahoma! I also talk a bit about planning your elopement in a different state!

What is an elopement? How do you elope? Wondering where to start?

This year has been tough on couples who are planning weddings, and as a wedding photographer who has been doing this for a long time, I’ve started to see a shift in the way couples are thinking about celebrating their nuptials, even here in Oklahoma. Elopements and “micro weddings” have seen a huge surge in popularity lately due to COVID, and if you’re reading this post, you may be considering one yourself.


So what is an elopement?

Simply put, an elopement is much smaller and much different than a traditional wedding day — an elopement is a whole day created just for you two. Exploring a new or favorite place together, reading your vows privately, where the focus is really on you, celebrating your relationship and your commitment to each other while creating a pretty unique and memorable experience. It can be as simple or as creative as you want, and it can be anywhere. Your home city, or an adventure in an unexplored location — whatever is special and will be meaningful for you and your partner.

This handy guide will help you become an elopement pro — From planning out your day to knowing the legalities of marriage in our state and others, and how to obtain your license depending on where you decide to elope, to what states have more relaxed rules, options for lodging and even… hiring your elopement photographer. 😉

Details on obtaining an Oklahoma marriage license

Currently, due to COVID, you’ll need to call to book an appointment to obtain your Oklahoma marriage license. Typically, both you and your partner must appear in person to the clerk’s office to obtain your license — call to see what your local clerk’s COVID precautions are.

An Oklahoma marriage license is good for ten days. Applicants under the age of 18 must wait 72 hours after obtaining a license to get married, and if you’re recently divorced, there’s a six-month waiting period before you can apply for a new license.

When you go, you’ll need a form of ID and your payment – Oklahoma marriage licenses are $50 However, if you and your partner have completed at least four hours of state-approved pre-marital counseling, you can bring your original completion certificate to the court clerk and pay only $5 instead of $50! Some counties may require cash payments, so be sure to check with your local court clerk before you make plans to go.

You don’t need to be an Oklahoma resident to obtain an Oklahoma marriage license — both parties just have to be physically present to apply. Anyone can obtain a marriage license from any county in Oklahoma, as long as the wedding takes place within the state.

If you plan to change your last name once you’re married, remember that you MUST sign your marriage license with your new name exactly how you’d like it to appear on legal documents. Practice that new signature!.

The other official part.. the officiant!

Surprise! There is no right way to get married. If you’ve read anything else on my website you’ll know by now that I don’t like wedding day “rules”, but when it comes to the legal part of your elopement or intimate wedding… well, there are a few rules you should know about and should plan for.

Your wedding ceremony is your ceremony, and deciding on who (if anyone) should officiate it and officially marry you can really make all the difference. Most states, including Oklahoma, require an ordained officiant to perform the marriage ceremony, and require additional witnesses. Oklahoma elopement laws and info on marriage licenses can be found here, but below are more details you need to know about obtaining your Oklahoma marriage license before your elopement.

Not only must you obtain the marriage license prior to your wedding — the person who will marry you needs to meet the requirements, as well! The person performing your wedding must register their credentials with the court clerk prior to your ceremony. Oklahoma marriage licenses require two witnesses’ signatures. Whoever performs your ceremony will need to sign and date your license, and after everyone has signed, they will need to return it to the county clerk’s office from where it was issued as soon as possible after your wedding. Once the court has made record of your nuptials – it’s official! yay!

There are several states however that don’t require witnesses present or a minister to marry you, and that offer some form of self-uniting marriage. Read more about that below!

What is a self-uniting ceremony?

self-uniting marriage is one in which you are married without the presence of a third-party officiant. There are a few states that allow a variance of this type of ceremony, they are Wisconsin, Colorado, The District of Columbia, California, Maine, and Nevada.

Each of these states has different “forms” of a self-solemnizing ceremony; some require religious reasons, like Maine, and some do not. The states where it’s “easiest” to self-marry are Colorado, D.C, and Pennsylvania. Self-solemnizing ceremonies in these states are recognized nationwide, without additional paperwork to complete besides your marriage license. For details on how your marriage ceremony might differ from state to state, you can read more here, or you can always call the county clerk’s office where you plan to be married. They want you to be married the right way; they’ll answer your questions and can be incredibly helpful!

Always make sure to give yourself additional time in advance to pick up your license and make sure you know how to fill it out correctly!

 

 

What are the advantages of a self-uniting ceremony?

There are many reasons you might want to be married in a self-uniting ceremony, and a lot of them are just personal preference. Privacy for one: reading your vows alone or with only a few people might be more comfortable for you than to a large audience. Adventure might be another reason: Colorado offers an incredibly scenic backdrop to your “I-dos”, and hiking to your wedding destination might fit your style more.

 

 

So now we know the rules… how do we plan our elopement?

Your elopement is a wedding day created just for you two. Exploring a new or favorite place together, where the focus is really on you, celebrating your relationship and your commitment to each other, and creating a unique and memorable experience. It can be as simple or as creative as you want. Creating a perfect day is the fun part — you can do whatever you want! And whether you plan to get married in a state that offers self-solemnization, or any other state, this is where you can really plan your day to fit you two, what you enjoy doing, and where you enjoy being together.

You should start by figuring out where you want this to happen. Self solemnization states make it much easier for adventure and spontanaeity — you can roam wherever you’d like and say your vows wherever and however you want.

In a state like ours, where an ordained officiant and witnesses are required, a little bit more planning and logistics might be involved for your Oklahoma elopement. There are a few ways you can make this happen:
– Sign your marriage license with your witnesses & officiant, then read your vows together and celebrate privately at a separate location
– Hire a photographer who’s ordained (me!) who can legally marry you and sign your marriage license, along with another witness
– Be legally married at the courthouse, then have your elopement day, your way!
– Have a marriage ceremony with an officiant, then celebrate with an elopement!


If you’re looking for ideas on activities for your elopement, or even a sample elopement timeline, check out my blog post loaded with elopement activity ideas here!

 

 

Elopements can happen anywhere that’s special to you, although “adventure” elopements have become pretty popular. Hiking through the forests, mountains, or going to the desert are all awesome, but don’t let that limit your imagination. AirBnB’s and vacation rentals offer a new way to elope or plan a destination affair and they open up so many possibilities to plan a unique day and stay in an awesome location.

 

Outside of Oklahoma

National parks and state parks are another great option if you’re looking for privacy and scenic views, and often the permits to be married there are between $50-$150, making them an incredible bargain versus a traditional wedding venue. Each park usually has a time frame of when you can get your permits — for example, Yosemite allows you to schedule permits 1 year – 21 days before your wedding. 

However, due to COVID and a ton of couples going the elopement route, national parks are TOTALLY backed up with permit applications, especially Yosemite – if a national park elopement is your dream, make sure to allow plenty of time for your permit to be processed, and ALWAYS have a backup plan. Some parks also have designated areas for weddings and they can book out up to a year in advance, so get those permits in ASAP!

Best places in Oklahoma to elope

If you’re planning an Oklahoma elopement, here in my amazing home state, check out my post here all about the most scenic spots in Oklahoma to plan your perfect elopement or intimate wedding. Read below for just a quick list of my fave Oklahoma locations.

  • Broken Bow, Oklahoma
  • Gloss Mountain 
  • Roman Nose state park
  • Quartz Mountain

 

What do we need for our elopement?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are no “rules” for your day, it should be totally unique to you, so you should bring whatever is special to you! But in any case, here are some of the important things you might need when planning your elopement:

  • Marriage License
    -Self-Solemnizing states: always double-check the rules for witnesses.
    -Other states, including Oklahoma: You will need an officiant and witnesses, the number of witnesses dependent on the state. Check with your county clerk’s office.
  • Your place to chill out
    AirBnB, Vacation home, or hotel, make sure you have a place to get relax and get ready before you say “I-do”!
  • Clothes
    This can be as casual or as dressy as you want! To save some cash, make sure to check out alternative retailers for your wedding garb, like vintage shops, Modcloth, Rent the Runway, etc. You have no idea how many dreamy dresses I’ve come across at vintage shops!
  • Permits
    If you’re planning your ceremony in a national or state park, make sure you get the proper permits! I can help if needed!
  • Your spirit of adventure
    I can’t stress this one enough! Even the best-planned day can go off-trail. Make sure you’re in the mindset to go with the flow and to remember that this day is all about marrying and celebrating with someone you love.

Last, but not least, you might need a photographer! One that’s up for wherever your plans take you, and is along for the ride documenting your day, totally your way.

If you’re searching for your elopement photographer, have questions, or want to get started planning your unique day right away, get in touch here and let’s chat!

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