With the number of mixed marriages taking place, many couples are opting to have a civil ceremony instead of a religious ceremony. This allows them to include special readings, vows, symbols or wedding themes, whether religious or not. A civil ceremony contains no religious elements (except for what the couple may add) and can be performed in a venue of your choice, depending on the area in which you wish to get married in.
It’s a good idea to set up appointments and meet with three or four different celebrants, as some won’t be available on your wedding date and some you may not like. It is important that you feel comfortable with the celebrant who is performing the ceremony and that you feel that he/she is interested in you as a couple.
Some important questions to ask the celebrant are:
- Are you available on this date and are you willing to travel to the location?
- How long have you been conducting civil ceremonies and what is your fee?
- Are you available for a rehearsal and when are you available?
- What is the standard ceremony that you use and can we add our own vows, readings, etc. to the ceremony?
- Do you have any sample ceremony sheets that you could provide?
- What is the procedure we need to follow in order to obtain a marriage license?
The celebrant should be able to advise you on the procedure you will need to follow in order to get your marriage license. Here are a few things that are fairly standard in most areas. You will each need to have the following documents:
- a birth certificate and/or passport for identification (with a picture)
- a copy of your Marriage Certificate and the Certificate of Divorce if either of you were previously married
- any name change deeds if you had your name legally changed
- a utility bill or some other type of document that gives your current address
- some areas require that you also provide your father and your mother’s (maiden) names
- if you are under 18, you will most likely need signed permission from a parent or guardian in most places.
Also keep in mind to budget for the various fees, such as the celebrant’s fee (for the ceremony), the registration fee and the marriage license fee.
As with any marriage ceremony, you will need to have two witnesses to sign the legal documents once the ceremony is performed.
All in all, a civil ceremony is much more flexible in today’s world. You both may incorporate aspects of each of your religions if you wish, write your own vows and have any type of wedding theme you want, whereas a typical religious ceremony tends to restrict much of this. Civil ceremonies also tend to be a favourite with
the budget conscious couple, as they are usually much cheaper in the long run.
Whatever type of ceremony you choose, the most important thing to remember is do what makes you happy as a couple. It’s your wedding after all.