How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions

By Alice T Breeze. Updated: April 3, 2017
How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions

Apart from the necessary documents to formalize a civil marriage, the couple usually also organize the event from the celebration point of view, as it's the perfect occasion to share with family and close friends in an intimate and beautiful environment. If you don't know where to start, in we'll give you some tips and suggestions about how to plan a civil wedding.

You may also be interested in: How To Plan A Simple Wedding On A Budget
Steps to follow:

At the moment of organizing your civil wedding there are two options: getting married in court and having a small cocktail at your desired location or have the civil ceremony in the chosen location and have the judge come to you, an alternative idea if you want all your family and friends to presence the union. You should take into account that some countries don't allow a judge to move from his/her usual workplace, so first of all you should look into this to know if the judge or officiant is allowed to go to the place where you want to hold the celebration or if it should be held in court or at your city council.

No matter what, you should set a wedding date in advance at least six months prior to the date, and even sooner depending on the popularity of the date chosen. Go to your local courthouse the look into it and select a convenient days for all the parts involved and choose the place of your celebration.

Personalize the ceremony

A civil wedding ceremony usually lasts around 15 minutes and, depending on the place you hold it, you may be able to personalize the ceremony to make it more intimate and unforgettable. Make sure you check out our article on how to make a courthouse wedding romantic for great ideas. It's basic to ask how long the ceremony can last if you're holding it at the courthouse or city council and ask about the possibility of incorporating elements to make it more intimate. Here are some good ideas:

  • Add some readings that your family and friends may read as something special.
  • Add a song for the entrance or for when the bride and groom leave the room, especially if you can have live music.
  • Create a ritual for the vows, with words of love that unite the two of you no matter what. You can even create a unity sand ceremony.
How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions - Step 1

If you choose to go for the court ceremony and then go to the celebration location, take into account this might mean the bride and groom travelling, as well as witnesses and close family, that's why it's ideal to set a location close to court to make things easier. If the place where you want to have the banquet or celebration is not close to the place where you're holding the ceremony, it's important to offer family and friends alternatives to go from one place to the other:

  • Give the guests a map with the location of the closest parking spaces near the court or city counil, as well as other alternative ways to get to the place.
  • Rent a bus or mini-vans to take guests from one place to the other. This is an ideal option, especially if you're having the celebration in a place outside your city. If you choose this option you should take into account that you should arrange the journey back too.
  • Only invite close relatives to the ceremony and arrange to meet with the rest of the guests directly at the celebration location.

Don't forget to read our article on Being a witness at a Civil Wedding.


When the date of the civil wedding ceremony is fixed, you need to choose the place where you'll hold the celebration. To do so there are many options, and they all have their own charm.Civil wedding unions are usually held in small and intimate venues, which is why you can have it at the house of the bride and groom, parents, family members or close friends, in a garden or a space with a special vibe to it.

You can also choose a small restaurant you may like and that allows you to spend a beautiful day with your special guests, as well as choosing among the many venues that are specially prepared for this type of event such as hotels, this will depend on your budget. The size of the chosen space will depend on the amount of guests you are planning to host for.

How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions - Step 3

More than a wedding banquet, civil weddings usually serve a variety of canapes, wine, champagne and any other liqueur of your preference.You can start the celebration with a light appetizer and then move to more consistent canapes. Other couples choose to have a full meal with first, second course and dessert.

The best thing to do is to asses all of the alternatives with your chosen catering company or restaurant. Asking for different budgets is basic to find the perfect option for both you and your guests, always taking into account that there should always be enough food for all the guests.

Moreover, do not forget about the sweet: the wedding cake and a sweet table, which are basic for this kind of event.

How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions - Step 4

The decor should pay attention to detail, choose simple seasonal flowers with lots of color, as this will also help you reduce the amount of money you spend, because seasonal flowers are more budget-friendly.

If you like making crafts or know of people who can help with DIY, you can make your own decor and centerpieces to give each table a special touch as well as saving up.

How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions - Step 5

One of the things that worry the bride and groom the most when organizing a Civil Wedding is the budget, which is why OneHowTo will give you some ideas to save up on this event:

  • Find a catering service at competitive prices and good food, you don't need to spend huge amounts of money on the meal.
  • Arrange to bring in your own canapes with the venue, this way your family and close friends can help make simple starter dishes. Add a cheese table or seafood such as prawns and salmon, this is also a great idea as you can purchase them yourself at good prices and only pay for the table arrangements.
  • If one of your family members is great at DIY, ask them to create the decor for the venue.
  • In the same way, liquor can be previously bought by you days before and depending on the number of guests and the size of the celebration, a couple of waiters will be enough to attend assistants.
  • Instead of throwing rice or rose petals, make your own confetti, it's really easy.

With a little creativity and imagination you can organize your beautiful wedding ceremony full of charm and without spending huge amounts of money.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions, we recommend you visit our Weddings & Parties category.

Write a comment

What did you think of this article?
How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions
1 of 5
How to Plan a Civil Wedding - Tips & Suggestions

Back to top