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After the engagement celebration, all of the planning is set in motion; the decision-making process begins, and more couples are choosing to have civil wedding ceremonies instead of religious ones. But, what is a civil wedding ceremony?

A civil wedding is simply a nonreligious, legal marriage ceremony presided over by an authorized official instead of a religious one.

This type of wedding is getting increasingly common for couples who don’t subscribe to any organized religion, interfaith marriages or when an officiant at your place of worship won’t preside over an outside ceremony.

Civil Wedding Ceremony Requirements

If you’re wondering about the requirements for a civil wedding ceremony, you can ask a lawyer or visit our common marriage questions section; in the past, we discussed how to get a certified marriage license, but we recommend to check specific requirements for this with your local Marriage License Bureau. Typically the requirements are a photo ID, birth certificate, and proof of citizenship or passport, also if you have been married before you need to provide proof or divorce.

There is a timeline involved, according to California Law the ceremony must occur within 90 days from the date the license is issued, and it needs to take place in the same state.

Where Can a Civil Wedding Ceremony Be Held?

A civil wedding can be held anywhere, you can get married in the Courthouse or at your City Hall, to do so, you’ll need to make a reservation and plan accordingly, this might differ by state or by county, take your time to do your research.

Civil ceremonies have limited time slots, as there may be more couples getting married either immediately before or after you. If the ceremony is in a clerk’s office, remember to invite at least two marriage ceremony witnesses, such as close friends or relatives.

Who can Officiate a Civil Ceremony?

Your civil wedding officiant will be legal official; it could be a judge, county or court clerk, depending on the state.

If you want a loved one to be your officiant, you can ask a lawyer in your state about this possibility also, make sure to visit your local county clerk office to find out if they have any particular requirements for this person and if your chosen one is compliant in performing a wedding.

To make the planning easier, check these helpful documents that will put your mind at ease and help you get the best of this exciting time.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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