A civil ceremony – what is it?


A civil ceremony is simply a legal ceremony that has no religious connotations or references. It is performed by a registrar or government official and once the bride and groom sign the marriage register they are officially husband and wife.

When does a civil wedding ceremony take place?

A civil ceremony is your first step to becoming legally married. It will normally take place directly before your wedding reception. However, you can choose to become legally married and then celebrate your marriage the next day or even later.

Where can I have a civil wedding?

Depending on where you live. You can hold your civil wedding ceremony in a number of locations, and in most American cities you can have choose almost anywhere.

However, in most European countries the ceremony must take place in a registered or licensed venue. Traditionally this used to be the local town hall, but now many buildings have become licensed, so you can choose from many venues including stately homes, abbeys, castles – even London Zoo if you’re in the UK!

Who should be present for my legal marriage?

As well as the registrar or official, you will need at least two respective witnesses present to sign the marriage register, that means 4 guests in total at least.

You may invite family and close friends, but it isn’t mandatory to invite all your guests to the wedding registry. Really, it’s entirely up to you, and you can invite anyone you like.

What should I wear for my civil wedding ceremony?

It is not essential for the bride to wear the formal wedding gown, but of course you can if you wish. You might wear something more comfortable, particularly for a town hall or registry office ceremony.

You may even wear trousers and a jacket, though refined, white attire is more respectful of wedding tradition. A white or ivory short wedding dress is a popular trend, and you can find some of our best selections in our article.

The groom should wear a well cut suit with a shirt and tie.

Wedding planners tip: You must give notice of your intention to marry at your local registry office, and you will need to make an appointment to do so. Normally notice is given at least 15 days before your planned date, but do check first.

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