Are Rings Necessary for Civil Wedding?


Many people dream about their big weddings. From the dress to the flowers to the venue, many people plan out every moment. But that option may not be right for you. For many reasons couples may not want, or be able to have, a big wedding. Some people, especially military couples, feel the need to say “I do” before their significant other ships off in a civil wedding. Then there're many things you need to know, like exactly what is it, and how to prepare for it, are rings necessary for civil wedding, etc.

Questions to Help You Prepare for a Civil Trial

What Exactly Is a Civil Ceremony?

Not a lot of people know exactly what a civil ceremony actually entails. How is it different? Are rings necessary for civil wedding? What should you wear?

Well, a civil ceremony is just a legal ceremony officiated by a government or legal official instead of a religious one. Simply, it's a non-religious ceremony. And in reality, a civil ceremony doesn't mean you're eloping or getting a drive through wedding. It's also different than a civil union or a common law marriage. 

Why Is a Civil Ceremony Different?

A civil ceremony is essentially quicker. When you decide to have a religious ceremony, you essentially need two ceremonies. One to get a marriage license at city hall to make your marriage legal, and the second main ceremony where you invite your family and friends. When you just have a civil ceremony, you don't need the second ceremony. You can get it all done at city hall.

However, the actual ceremony in both kinds are actually very similar. There's a procession, vows reading, unity ceremonies if you want them and the final pronouncement & kiss. 

What Official Documents Do You Need?

In order to get your marriage license, there will be some things you need like identification. But many requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Check the requirements of your specific marriage office. Most clerk's offices require two witnesses, like friends or family, so remember to have people with you. It'll mean more than two strangers signing your marriage license.

Who Performs the Ceremony?

Check with your county or state to see the requirements for who can officiate a civil ceremony. Generally it's a government or legal official such as a judge, justice of the peace, magistrate or clerk.

If you don't want a religious ceremony, but still want it to be special, many people opt to have a friend or family member get ordained. It's extremely easy and you can get ordained online! However, before you plan to have a friend or family member do it, keep a few things in mind. Not every state or county recognizes the online certification. Even if you can have a friend marry you, sometimes it comes with extra paperwork. 

Where Can the Ceremony Be Held?

Anywhere you want! A civil ceremony can take place anywhere. Unlike some religious ceremonies, civil ceremonies don't have to take place in a church. They also don't have to take place in city hall. So pick you're favorite location: the backyard of a family member's home, a beach or a the venue for your reception.

​Are Rings Necessary for Civil Wedding?

The short answer is no. There's no legal requirement to to exchange wedding rings. Of course you're more than welcome to exchange rings, and many people do want to. If you opt out of that part of the ceremony, just make sure to tell your officiant to ensure that part is skipped over.

What Should You Wear?

Whatever you want! It's a civil ceremony, and you could wear your pajamas if you wanted to. However, it's still such a special occasion, and most people at least decide to dress up. If you're having a normal wedding outside of city hall, many couples decide to still do the bridal gown and tux. Whatever you decide, just make sure your guests know what to wear.

What Personal Touches Can Couples Add?

There are lots of things you can add in to make your ceremony a little more special. Just because you've decided to have a civil ceremony doesn't mean it has to be boring. You can add in your own readings or ask the official presiding over the ceremony to say a few words. You can add in almost anything that will make you feel more comfortable. Even if you have the ceremony in city hall, you can still bring some flowers to make it feel more like a traditional wedding.

How Long Will the Ceremony Take?

If you're familiar with Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox weddings, you know they can take a long time. That's because there are a lot of religious components that take place. However, most civil wedding ceremonies take about 15 to 20 minutes. Many registrar offices want to see the bride and groom separately before the ceremony. That's the only thing that may take additional time. Check with your local office, especially if you're having the ceremony outside of city hall. This is another common asked question besides "are rings necessary for civil wedding".

Can You Still Include Religious Traditions?

You absolutely can! Talk to your officiant ahead of time about making additions. This could appease some family members who may wish you had gone about doing a traditional religious ceremony.

Can We Get Married Now and Have a Big Wedding Later?

YES! If you want or need to get married right away, but don't have the time or money to throw a more traditional wedding, don't feel bad about getting hitched by a government official and then throwing a larger wedding later. You can either just throw a large party for friends and family, or do the whole ceremony again even though you'll already have been legally married for quite some time.