What is a civil ceremony and is it right for you?

What is a civil ceremony?

A civil wedding ceremony is a marriage without a religious context. It means that a registrar, governmental official or functionary performs the wedding.  You may ask whether this is legally binding… Yes, it absolutely is, a civil wedding is 100% legally bound. Alas, no, that is not the follow-up film to Legally Blonde – one can wish… Some people have a religious ceremony that either precedes or follows the civil ceremony. Many couples, however, choose to have a civil ceremony as their only ceremony.




Luckily for you, your venue options are fairly open. Civil ceremonies can take place at a registry office in England and Wales. An approved venue for civil marriage can also be used. Such venues include the likes of hotels, country houses, barns, restaurants, etc. A lot of wedding venues have licensed areas for ceremonies too. Woohoo! Deciding whether you have your ceremony and reception at the same place is up to you entirely. 




The registrar will have a meeting before the ceremony. This is just to make sure that everything is in order and the day will go smoothly. Then, the ceremony begins. A standard civil wedding ceremony is usually pretty quick. They average between 20-30 minutes. If you want a shorter ceremony (and perhaps a bigger party…) this time frame is perfect. However, some couples decide to incorporate poems, readings, and music into the service to elongate the nuptials.


At a civil wedding, couples must exchange vows. This ensures that they are legally married. Once they’ve been exchanged and everyone is feeling emotional, the couple is declared married. Following this, they must sign the register. Two witnesses and the registrar must be present for this. After all of this, you’re officially married! Party time! You can take photos, cry and throw the confetti…Whatever you fancy. Enjoy the first few moments of married life together!




Understandably, the difference between a civil wedding ceremony and a wedding can be confusing. So, let’s break it down! The main difference lies in that marriage is formed by vows. It’s also usually performed in a religious ceremony. Following this is signing a marriage certificate. As for a civil wedding ceremony, the union becomes cemented by signing a civil partnership certificate. It’s also, as we said, non-religious.


Outdoor wedding with sign language civil wedding ceremony Pennard House outdoor wedding ceremony with bride in a beaded wedding dress with long sleeves British Muslim bride holding hands with her groom at an outdoor wedding ceremony Cripps Barn civil wedding with bride in a fishtail wedding dress and natural wedding flowers 

So, there you have it, the low-down on civil wedding ceremonies. Hopefully, this article has helped you in terms of understanding or preparing for this kind of ceremony.

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