Response: In most states, you need to recite vows in front of a person who is licensed or recognized by the state to perform weddings in the state in which the wedding will occur. Therefore, for example, a California judge may not be able to perform a legal wedding in New York.
You do not have to say specific words but you do have to include wording that indicates that you take him and he takes you to be your legally wed spouse because marriage is a legally binding contract between two people and it is witnessed by your maid of honor and best man.
Signing the marriage license does not create a legal marriage. After the ceremony is performed, the officiant will sign the marriage license and that will make it legal.
I understand that the law was recently changed in Colorado to allow couples to be married without the presence of an officiant who is licensed by the state. They still must enter into a legal contract, however, by reciting vows to one another.
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