The Wedding of Amber and Duc It’ll be pretty, prettttyyyy, pretttyy good

30Jun/10

Self-Uniting Marriage

The Vietnamese wedding ceremony doesn't have an officiant per se. There is a master of ceremonies, but he/she is generally a family member and is unlikely to have any authority in granting marriages in the state in which the wedding occurs. Since we're getting married in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we're taking advantage of a vestige of its Quaker past that allows for self-uniting marriage, requiring only the signatures of two witnesses rather than the presence of an officiant (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. ยง 1502).

This has caused some issues in the past, most famously noted in a lawsuit against the Allegheny County Register of Wills for requiring that those requesting a self-uniting marriage prove their membership in the Quaker or B'Hai faiths (or any in which there are no official clergy). There are some pretty clear issues here with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the judge ruled in the couple's favor. Still, we came armed with the court order just in case we had in problems.

There was no reason to worry, though. We went to get our marriage license yesterday and the people in the Bradford County Register and Recorder office in Towanda, PA were very nice. We got our forms without issue and on July 10 we'll be uniting ourselves in marriage, thanks very much.

The Bradford County Courthouse, moments after we left. They were cool.

As to why we went through this now, there's a three day waiting period between when you apply for a marriage license and when you're allowed to execute it. We were not going to be in Philadelphia early enough to let this waiting period pass, so we had to take a trip to a Pennsylvania county register nearest to Ithaca to get the license earlier.

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