(Closed) What happens at a civil ceremony?

posted 13 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
107 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

Civil ceremonies don’t necessarily have to take place at a courthouse. My wedding is going to be a civil ceremony, and we’re having it outside at a country club in our town next May.

The process is similar to a religious ceremony except there really isn’t any mention of religion or God, unless the bride and groom ask for there to be.

Many officiants are flexible when it comes to civil ceremonies and often ask for the input of the bride and groom. Many experienced officiants may have samples of ceremonies they’ve done in the past, and you and your Fiance can pick and choose what you like from each of them. Many brides and grooms also write their own vows.

And about the dress, I’ve seen it done where brides where a dress to the courthouse. But, in my experience, the bride doesn’t get an elaborate dress like she would wear in a "traditional" wedding. But it’s really up to you!

That’s the beauty of a civil ceremony; the bride and groom can have a lot of say in how it’s done! Good luck!


Post # 4
754 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

Yes, you exchange vows, you can write your own or use the one the judge using all the time.  You exchange rings and usually wear something nice, a dress.  A modest wedding dress would not be out of place (probably not a huge ballgown).  Bring a witness, they should also dress nicely.  You can meet your judge ahead of time, interview them, ask them questions.  You wouldn’t want a stone-faced judge marrying you, do you?  You may want to consider bringing your photographer.

Post # 5
26 posts
  • Wedding: August 2008

Because we had our civil ceremony for financial reasons and are planning a more personalized ceremony with friends and family later, we did not wear anything special. We went early in the morning before I had classes and he had work, it was pouring, and I had rainboots and jeans on. We got to the courthouse, filled out our application for the marriage license (no waiting period in VA), she gave us back the forms to be filled out by the officiant and we went to breakfast waiting for the officiant to be in (there are none in the courthouse – rather, I think it was a lawyer whose office was nearby who performed our ceremony). The officiant took our forms and filled in the information he needed to then brought us into a meeting room. We stood in front of him and he recited some vows (the Apache prayer I think), which we repeated, and said the usual "I now pronounce you…" and that was it. I think it was up to him whether he had us say vows and what they were except for the state-required wording of "do you take so and so to be…" "i do" "i now pronounce you…". That, I think, will depend entirely on your state. He signed our forms and we went back to the courthouse to return them. She gave us our marriage license and the copies (we paid for extra official copies) and that was it.


How unromantic, it sounds, sorry! It was that way for us because that’s how we made it. It was important to us to save our ceremony this August with friends and family as "the big day" when we make our own promises to each other, and we want our "real vows" to be something that includes all the people who will be there in August. It was really nice and everyone was kind, so I hope it all goes well for you!

Post # 6
88 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

We had a civil ceremony at the court house (wedding ceremony to be next year…more like vow renewal). We had to make an "appointment" with the judge. When we got to his chambers on the appointed day, he had everything prepared and ready for us. You can say your own vows; we choose not to do our own vows, the judge had a small notebook and recited some words and then we repeated him for the vows. We opted not to do the ring exchange (we had a choice, we are saving that for the wedding ceremony we’re having later). He pronounced us…and we kissed. Done. Our judge was very sweet about everything, he even played music during the "ceremony" and posed for a few snap shots afterwards.

Post # 7
8 posts
  • Wedding: December 1969

We just got married a week and half ago through a civil cermony. We made our appt. the day before. We showed up, gave our marrige license to a girl behind the counter, waited in line behind a door that said Wedding Room. While we were waiting in line, two females were getting married in there. It was sooo neat! They had their own photographer as well 🙂 As soon as they were done, we went in and stood in front of a floral arch. We said our "I do’s" and exchanged vows (we repeated after the judge) and snap we were married! My parents and my little brother were there. My little brother handed the rings to us when it was time to exchange rings. We didnt wear anything fancy, my parents took pictures and video with their phones. It was such a wonderful experience. I posted videos of our ceremony on my blog, http://prisper.blogspot.com/  just scroll down to July 10,2008

Post # 8
18 posts
  • Wedding: October 2008

My husband and son wore a suit.  I think I ended up wearing a skirt and jacket.  We did have a witness.

They asked us if we wanted to exchange rings but we didn’t.  We also didn’t have our own vows.


Post # 10
565 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2011

well for us they asked us if we wanted to mention god in the process or leave it out, we got to choose.  then she just had us recite our vows to each other, and we were married.  what pissed me off is that the woman officiating decided to run off and answer her phone in the middle of it!

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