marriage license witnesses - who can it be?

I get asked regularly about who should be the witness(es) for the marriage license, especially as most couples seem to assume that it should be their honor attendants (like the best man, maid of honor, best woman, man of honor, etc).  And it absolutely can be, but it doesn't need to be, and hence this post.

Let me back up a second.  In California there are two kinds of marriage licenses - confidential and non-confidential.  The confidential one needs no witnesses at all, but is not as often used.  The non-confidential license is the more commonly used one, and it requires one witness but has space for two.  So while some couples choose just a single witness, most choose one from each side.

Who else can it be, if not the honor attendants?  I often suggest to my couples to think about who would see being your witness as the huge honor that it is, at it very much is an honor.  And, to be honest, often your wedding party members don't see it as the honor that it is, but instead as just one more thing that they have to do before heading to the party, as their huge honor is standing up with you.  Maybe it's your two mothers.  Maybe it's the couple who introduced you.  Maybe it’s your grandparents or the longest married couple there.  Think about who you want to honor with this important moment, and whose name(s) you will enjoy seeing on your license for many decades to come.  I love seeing the look on the moms' faces when they realize that their kids have asked them to be the official witnesses!

In my case, I also know that the California marriage license - and therefore the marriage certificate you get afterward - isn't very pretty, so I make a keepsake certificate for my couples too, and have the witnesses sign that as well.  Some couples, therefore, ask me to allow for more spaces on that, for more folks to sign it - like maybe all of the grandparents or all of the parents - since the license only allows for two spaces.

Anyway, think about who you want to honor as your witness(es), as it really is one more honor within your wedding, and not just a responsibility...