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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Self-Uniting Marriage License

Pennsylvania is semi-unique in that it has what is known as a self-uniting marriage license. It's set up (mostly) for Quakers (Society of Friends) because traditionally they do not have clergy-people. Therefore, when they get married, there isn't an official person to marry them. So the "self-uniting" part is exactly how it sounds. The bride and groom actually marry themselves to each other; all they need is two witnesses to sign the documents. I believe the wording is, "I take you as my wife", and "I take you as my husband". This is not limited to Quakers, however, but most people don't go this route because they choose a justice of the peace, mayor, or a clergy-person to marry them.

For us, this seems like a good fit. I want to have a private outdoor ceremony, and I definitely don't want it to be religious at all (so while the nondenominational route works for a lot of people, it just doesn't sit right with me) and from what I've heard, tracking down a judge who's willing to travel to preform a marriage involves a lot of sucking up. This could work for us (we're cute and we can definitely kiss ass), but at the same time, I know I would drive myself crazy making sure we picked the "right judge", meaning I would be spending countless hours pouring over their past cases making sure they have the same views as I/we do.

So who knows what we believe in better than we do, right? There are a couple options when using the self-uniting method. The bride and groom can act totally alone and do all of the speaking, or they can choose somebody to act as the speaker and the couple has about as much speaking as they would during a "normal" ceremony (i.e.: the vows, and saying "I do", etc).

Neither Tony nor I believe that we can do all the speaking ourselves. I know Tony will be super nervous and I'll probably cry the whole time (and I would be really nervous to do the whole ceremony!), so that isn't the best for us or our guests. We know we want somebody who means a lot to us to the speaking, and I also want to incorporate somebody who otherwise wouldn't be able to be there. Tony's mom is currently pushing for his sister to do it; but I personally feel like it eliminates his other sister and his brother, who won't have a specific role in the ceremony. Another thing is that his sister will have a 6 year old and a (almost) one year old at the time of the wedding, and I don't want to corral her husband into being the sole "child-watcher" during the ceremony. Either one may be upset that they can't be up there with their mother, and it's hard to keep a 6 year old still while wrangling a one year old at the same time. Also, his sister will already be invited to the ceremony, she's his sister! I'd like to use somebody who would be otherwise left out. Somebody who's a close friend to both of us, but isn't in the wedding party. I know Tony is reasonably close to his sister, but I'm not particularly close to her, so I feel like there's a little less meaning with her.  (Which could very easily change between now and the wedding). And besides, I have a brother, too. Why aren't we considering him? There's just too many siblings to single one out to do something extremely important and leave the other ones with no roles whatsoever. And I don't particularly want to find special roles for all the siblings! They're our siblings, I certainly think that's special enough.

Not to get away from the topic, but this is the exact reason why we aren't having flower girls or ring bearers. We will have, at the time of the wedding, three nieces and two nephews. That's way too many to include, and I can't pick and choose between them. In fact, I don't even particularly want children AT the wedding, let alone IN the wedding. However, they are still family, so it's important that they be there for the ceremony and dinner. BUT, I'm not compromising with the "after party". We're going to have a 12 or older age limit (we might do this after a certain time so that our families can stick around for the "important" bits, like first dances and whatnot).

Anyway, I've found a couple different set ups that I like (as far as what our speaker will be saying), so I'll probably post those at a later time because I've already taken up quite a lot of space here.

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