How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work

By Elsie Goycoolea. Updated: January 16, 2017
How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work

A civil wedding ceremony is a legal and non-religious marriage of two people that is offered as an alternative to the traditional religious marriage. It is usually performed by a government official and often must take place in a specialized venue. Many people are choosing this option to secure their love in a non-traditional way with their close friends and family.

If you are unsure how to prepare for a civil wedding ceremony, read this OneHowTo article where we will explain: how does a Civil Wedding ceremony work?

Steps to follow:

The first step you must take is to notify your local register office. You will be asked to provide legal documents including a valid passport and/or national identity card, birth certificate, proof of your address, certificate or registration and certificate of naturalization. Make sure to check with your local register as these documents may differ from country to country. This process must be done at least 28 days before the ceremony.

How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work - Step 1

Once your have notified your local register you must choose a location. In most countries these civil ceremonies are only officiated in the city hall or courthouses. However, some countries do have licensed locations that include hotels, country clubs or authorized religious premises. You will be given a time and date for the ceremony. You can find more ideas in our article on how to plan a civil wedding, where you'll find plenty of tips and suggestions for your civil wedding.


Most of these locations have a designated officiant but it is possible that city, county and town clerks, judges, justices of peace and government officials are able to perform the ceremony. Confirm the person who will be performing the ceremony with your chosen location, .


On the day of the ceremony the couple must arrive with 2 witnesses of legal age. You are expected to dress professionally and elegantly but religious attire is not required. You may choose to write some vows although it is not mandatory for a civil ceremony. In certain countries, religious vows are not permitted. Some people even choose other original ways of saying their vows such as the Unity Sand Ceremony.

How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work - Step 4

To conclude the ceremony, you will be asked along the 2 witnesses so sign the marriage register or partnership certificate. A copy of the document will be sent to the local register and you will get to keep one copy for your own reference. Once finalized, you may now proceed with the celebrations at your venue of choice.

How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How Does a Civil Wedding Ceremony Work, we recommend you visit our Weddings & Parties category.

  • Always refer to your local register and official body for accurate information on your country's civil ceremony procedure.

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