Quaker marriage certificate

15 May 2012

Several of you expressed interest in the marriage certificate I mentioned designing in this post. I finally had time to snap a photo of it this weekend, so I thought I would explain!

The first special (i.e. non-government issued!) marriage certificate to catch my eye was this one, by Orleans Paperie:

It just stuck in my head! I loved the quote, the layout, and most importantly the sentiment behind it, and quickly decided we would have one for our wedding. Like the one above, I would call ours a modern version of a Quaker marriage certificate. I am not a Quaker, but here is what I understand the symbolism and meaning of these documents to be in their community:

In the Quaker tradition, couples are married at a normal monthly meeting, not at a special service. There is no minister or leader (because Quakers don’t have clergy); Friends believe they are married by God, and declare their intentions before God and those gathered. They believe that the marriage is merely “witnessed” by those present. After, the couple signs a marriage certificate. At the close of worship, all those present at the meeting are also asked to sign the certificate as witnesses. This Wikipedia entry mentions that the certificate is usually hung prominently in the home of the couple as a reminder of the declarations they made, and of the people with whom they shared that moment of their lives.

John and I definitely believe that the guests at our wedding play an active role as witnesses of our promises, and we loved the idea of them physically signing their support to what they witnessed. I do think it will make a beautiful keepsake after the fact, too.

I created our certificate in Illustrator and had it printed at our local FedEx Office, which cost about $15. The finished size is 13 inches by 16 inches.

I mimicked our wedding invitation as much as possible, including the font choices (Burgues Script and IM Fell English, for those who might be wondering!). The calligraphy file with our names was also made for our invitation, by the supremely talented Moya Minns, so consider this a sneak peek!

In case you can’t read the text, here’s what it says:

On the fifteenth of September in the year two thousand twelve, at a ceremony held in the presence of their family, their dearest friends, and God, at the United States Coast Guard Memorial Chapel in New London, Connecticut Emily Armstrong and Mr. John Alexander Thomas declared their marriage vows.

There are spaces for the bride, groom, and officiant to sign, and then there are 100 lines on which our guests will sign. (We’re expecting a few more than 100 guests, but I figured that some might sign as a couple, some might miss it entirely, and most kids are not likely to sign.)

A last sneak peek: It’s kind of hard to see in this photo, but there’s a very light gray wreath illustration behind the signing lines. This was drawn by our invitation designer, Jess, and will feature prominently in our invite suite and other paper pieces!

What do you think?

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May 15, 2012 8:35 am

i LOVE it!! it looks so great! what a fun and neat idea!! i kept saying i wish i was part of the Judaism religion because i love the signing of the ketubah because they are so beautiful and what a wonderful piece of art to hang in your home. is this taking place of a guest book i assume?

May 15, 2012 9:51 am

What a fantastic idea!! I’ve never thought to make our own marriage certificate. Is it still a legal document or do you have to get a seperate certificate from the state? I think I’ll be doing this for our wedding also!

May 15, 2012 1:24 pm

Um such a great idea! I wish I had thought of that! I love the subtle inclusion of design details and graphics from the rest of your wedding. Very very vute.

May 15, 2012 2:10 pm

Gorgeous! I love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing!

May 15, 2012 3:08 pm

I love it! Maybe this is a silly question, but how does that work with the government?

May 21, 2012 9:19 am

Emily, once again you’ve inspired me to DIY something that I hadn’t thought of doing myself. I had looked about getting a Quaker Marriage certificate from etsy, but now I think I’ll try and design it myself. I think they are such a special touch, we’re going to use ours in lieu of a guest book.

[…] slideshow (we picked the songs months ago – so excited about them!!) – I printed our marriage certificate and guest book cards – We’ve started brainstorming for our first dance song – I […]

May 25, 2012 12:52 pm

Love your marriage certificate! Well done, Em!

June 10, 2012 2:55 am

gorgeous!!! love it!!!! i know this is totally random and quite possibly none of my business whatsoever, but are you, indeed, emily armstrong and not emily ayer? seeing that just threw me for a loop! regardless, love the marriage certificate! also love the idea of having something from the wedding become a piece of artwork or home decor!!!!

September 21, 2012 7:21 am

[…] of our projects in advance, you were delightfully enthusiastic over the ones I did share, like our marriage certificate, our wedding website, and our […]

[…] Two more projects! Our guest book was actually cards with question prompts like “What is your favorite memory of us?” and “Where should we go for our fifth anniversary?” I’m going to compile them into a book as soon as life slows down a bit. We also asked our guests to sign our own version of a Quaker marriage certificate as witnesses to our vows, which you can read more about here. […]

April 8, 2013 10:03 pm

Hi Emily — What kind of paper did you have this printed on? Card stock?

April 9, 2013 9:37 am

Hi Lauren! I just asked FedEx for their thickest matte card stock!

August 7, 2014 2:16 pm

Hello, I have been trying to find a marriage certificate. I really like yours but clicked in the link for the designer and she no longer had the same webpage. Do you know how I could go about printing something like this myself..