Many couples choose to forgo the elaborate church wedding and have a civil ceremony instead. There are many reasons for this, such as speed, cost-effectiveness and flexibility. This type of wedding ceremony isn't just for non-religious couples---it is also appropriate for couples who want to include personal touches, such as music, vows and readings, that may not be acceptable in a church ceremony. If this is the route for you, there are many ways to plan a civil wedding ceremony.
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Many different people can legally officiate your civil wedding ceremony, depending on where you plan to marry. Check with the local municipal county clerk or marriage license bureau to find out the specific laws and policies regarding the officiant. Those typically authorised to perform this type of ceremony are chaplains, county clerks, justices of the peace, mayors, judges, town council members and notaries public. Religious leaders, such as ministers, priests and rabbis, can also perform the ceremony outside of the standard place of worship. Some people ask their friends to become ordained online in order to marry them.
Your civil ceremony can take place in a wide variety of locations, which include city hall, a courthouse, and even a chapel in Las Vegas. Some couples choose to have their civil ceremonies performed in reception halls, hotels and country club clubhouses. Others prefer an intimate setting such as their home or backyard. Most destination weddings are civil ceremonies that take place in exotic locations, such as at beach, desert or mountain settings.
The standard civil wedding ceremony typically includes several elements, including opening words, consent, vows, ring exchange and closing words. The usual vows are typically comprised of, "___, do you take ___ as your lawfully wedded wife/husband?" There are many versions of these phrases, but you can also write your own personalised vows. Some couples incorporate poems and other readings in their vows. Others simply speak from the heart in the moment. You can choose whatever type of vow you want, but just be sure to let the officiant know beforehand.
While most civil ceremonies typically eliminate many traditional wedding rituals, such as the ring bearer, processional and religious readings or prayers, many incorporate other types of symbolic acts. Consider adding a candle or rose ritual to yours. The candle ceremony consists of the bride and groom carrying two separate candles and then lighting a unity candle together. The candle signifies that their lives are now joined together. The rose ceremony involves the newly married couple exchanging single rosebuds. The rose exchange symbolises the couple giving each other the gift of true love.
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