Securing a marriage license is the first step to a public record of a marriage. The second is the ceremony. And the third is the filing and recording for posterity. While your marriage is still perfectly legitimate once a genuine officiant presides over a ceremony, the filing of the license and receipt of certificate by the couple makes all bureaucratic requirements easier to satisfy.
Technically, New York Domestic Law is liberal in terms of what a legit marriage service must include. A simple “I take you as my wife/husband” may suffice. The law actually specifies that the couple be wed according to the “rites of thee denomination of the officiant.” All this makes for wonderfully diverse ways by which couples may legally wed.
I love history, and I was browsing some archives when I came across the original contract signed by the Puritans who had recently arrived to Dedham, MA back in 1636. Anger towards such settlers for their treatment of Native Americans is certainly justified, yet so too is a fleeting acknowledgment of the profound shift represented by the way they managed the community. So, for fun, I made some adjustments and reoriented the contract into a marriage contract. The contractual terms would be read by the officiant as a prelude to the license signing. It could be used within a ceremony, or even on its own with a “joining of right hands” as a sign of consent, which would also be a valid method of consent historically.
Much of our happiness flows from the strength of our resolve to discharge our duties in relationships. Forasmuch as these persons have chosen each other from the multitudes willingly to partake in domestic life together, each shall bear special responsibility for the joy of the other.
You, whose names are here subscribed unto this marriage license, do in reverence, mutually promise to profess and practice truth according to that most perfect rule, which enjoins the foundation of everlasting love.
You shall by all means labor to refrain from that which is contrary and receive only unto yourselves that which yields one heart such that you may well know and be truly informed to walk in peaceable conversation with all meekness of spirit for the edification of each other in knowledge and faithfulness.
You shall give mutual encouragement unto all temporal comforts in all things and seek the good of each other out of which may be derived genuine accord. If, at any time, differences shall rise between you, then you shall refer them unto some mediator to be fully determined without further delay.
Each person shall contribute an equal share of responsibility as a free subject unto this family society from this day forward to espouse a loving and helpful companionship for the prosperous and thriving condition of the bond of matrimony.
You shall especially respect and desire to begin and continue to remain in gracious favor with one another, as befitting those with pure motives to dwell in harmony and affection.
For the manifestation of your consent herein, each will witness hereunto your name and thereby oblige yourselves forevermore to this marriage covenant.