A civil ceremony is a wedding ceremony which does not involve religious aspects. It may involve a simple ceremony at City Hall or it can be a large elaborate ceremony at a beautiful wedding site. Despite the fact that a civil ceremony is often a simple affair, feel free to add personal touches to make it the type of event that fulfills your dreams and makes things personal to you and your fiancé. Take these steps when planning your civil ceremony and ensure to make your day memorable.
Decide On a Date and Location. Your civil ceremony can take place at City Hall, your home, a reception site or even outdoors. You are not limited to a particular type of location for your special ceremony. Pick a date and make sure that the location you decide upon can accommodate the day you have chosen.
Make a Guest List. Think about how many people you want to share this special occasion with and draw up a guest list. If you are getting married at City Hall or a judge’s chambers, make sure they can accommodate and will permit the number of guests you want to invite. Select invitations and mail them out between six-eight weeks prior to the wedding.
Decide Who You Want to Conduct Your Ceremony. Will you be using a justice of the peace, a judge, or another type of officiant. If there is someone special you want to conduct your civil ceremony, be sure that he can make the date you have picked for your wedding. Check out the article at weddings.about.com regarding the different types of people who can marry you (See Resources for link) and ask your county clerk’s office who is allowed in your state.
Apply for Your Marriage License. Make sure to apply for your marriage license with enough time before the ceremony. There is typically a window of 24-48 hours before the license will become valid. Likewise, a marriage license is only valid for a certain amount of time as well – usually 60-90 days. Be sure to find out the requirements for your particular state.
Decide upon a Program for Your Ceremony. Think about how elaborate you want your civil ceremony to be. Do you want a simple exchange of vows or do you want to include music and readings? Think about whether you will want to have any family members participate in the ceremony.
Plan the Reception. Although not every civil ceremony has a reception, feel free to plan something special to follow your ceremony. You may have a full reception with a sit down dinner, or you may choose to have cocktails or a mere simple champagne toast for the newlywed couple. Think about whether you will need to hire a caterer, florist, baker, or musical entertainment.