Civil Ceremonies v Church Weddings – How to Choose

These days, there is more than one way to get married. Aside from the traditional marriage in a Catholic church, you could also opt for a civil ceremony.

While both of these options serve the same purpose, there are some striking differences between the two. Choosing to have a civil wedding ceremony or getting married in a church is completely up to you and your partner. We’re not writing this piece to try and persuade you to pick one or the other.

civil-or-church-wedding

Instead, we’re writing this to try and tell you more about each option. We’ll explain how they differ, what choices you have when arranging them, and why you might be inclined to choose one over the other.

To find all of this information out, carry on reading down below:

What Is A Civil Ceremony?

The simplest definition of a civil ceremony is that it’s a non-religious marriage between two people. This is the biggest thing that sets it apart from a church wedding; the lack of religion. While church weddings are usually set in churches with priests, a civil ceremony is set in a non-religious setting with a non-religious person running the ceremony. This doesn’t mean it’s not a proper marriage, it’s still completely legal and you have a marriage certificate and everything else. There’s just no religious involvement at all.

What Is A Church Wedding?

This is the traditional wedding ceremony that you’ve likely seen in movies many times and probably been part of multiple times too. It’s hosted in a church, and the ceremony is run by the priest. It involves readings from the Bible as well as the singing of some hymns. People from both families go up and read passages from the Bible as part of the ceremony too.

The priest pronounces the couple man and wife, and it’s all a very religious affair. There is another big difference in that a church wedding isn’t technically legally binding. You’ll have to obtain your wedding certificate before or after the ceremony to make it legal.

church-wedding

Why Choose A Civil Ceremony/Church Wedding?

There are multiple reasons why someone might choose one of these options over the other. Naturally, if you’re religious and have a religious background, then you’ll want a proper Catholic ceremony in a church. It’s the right thing to do, to honour your religion and get married under the watchful eye of God.

On the other hand, if you’re not religious you may feel uncomfortable getting married in a church and going through the whole religious ceremony. In which case, a civil ceremony may be more to your taste. This doesn’t mean everyone that’s not religious shouldn’t get married in a church. Some people want a church wedding because it’s traditional and they like the idea of a traditional wedding day.

Another reason you might choose a civil ceremony over a church wedding is because you don’t have a lot of money and can’t afford a traditional wedding. Church weddings can cost a lot of money as you have to book the church, book transport to the church, and pay for lots of other things too. Civil ceremonies are a lot cheaper as you don’t really have to pay for any extras.

Similarly, civil ceremonies are much quicker too. You can book a date and get married within a few weeks without having to worry about planning anything. It’s fast, and this suits some people that are so desperate to get married they can’t bear to wait any longer.

civil-ceremony-on-beach

Furthermore, if you do want to plan a massive wedding, you have more control over a civil ceremony. You aren’t bound by what the priest deems is acceptable or not. Likewise, some priests don’t preside over outdoor weddings, while a civil official will. So, you can create an ideal ceremony without worrying so much about restrictions.

Church weddings are really for religious people and those that want a traditional ceremony – which still happens to be a very large percentage of married couples. Civil ceremonies offer you something that’s potentially quicker, more to your personal tastes, and free from religion. Both options are great, it just depends on which one you prefer.

How To Arrange A Civil Ceremony/Church Wedding

If you’ve ever read a guide on how to arrange a wedding, then it’s likely you’ve read about arranging the classic church wedding. To do this, you need to book the location for your wedding ceremony. If you attend a local church, this is probably your ideal choice. You should speak to the priest and see if they’re free on your chosen day. If not, you may have to work around their schedule and move your desired wedding day.

Then, it’s a case of choosing bridesmaids, flower girls, groomsmen, and the various Bible readings throughout the ceremony. You also have to organise the decorations in the church and the car you’ll ride to the wedding in, as well as what clothes you and the main people involved will wear.

Plus, there’s the reception to arrange too, which requires you to find somewhere to host everyone after the wedding for food and party time.

Arranging a civil ceremony can follow a similar pattern if you want it too. You can find any location for your wedding that you so wish. You can dress any way that you want and set the ‘ceremony’ to be as long as you want and include anything you like – some people read poems instead of bible readings.

However, if you want a quick marriage, then it can be as simple as heading to your local civic offices and stating that you want to get married. A representative will talk things through with the two of you and conduct checks to ensure the marriage is genuine and not fake. Then, you book a date and go back to the civic offices on that date and get legally married.

There is a big difference between both wedding options. A church wedding is very religious and more traditional and formal. A civil ceremony is far more relaxed and not religious in any way.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand each option and figure out which one is right for your special day.