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Creating a Unique and Distinctive Civil Wedding Ceremony

Civil ceremonies are an ideal way to combine a variety of traditional, cultural, and spiritual elements into a uniquely personal celebration of lifetime commitment. They allow loved ones to participate in creative and innovative ways, and give couples complete freedom to express the things that are most important to them. Meaningful, beautiful, and customizable, civil ceremonies are a wonderful choice for modern weddings. Why Choose a Civil Ceremony? Amidst the modern blending of cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, traditional church weddings are becoming less popular. As an alternative, couples are increasingly turning to civil ceremonies. Imaginative and meaningful, these ceremonies can be uniquely personalized, combining any elements that are important to the couple’s cultural or spiritual values. A civil ceremony provides an opportunity to include family and friends, and to acknowledge the love and support they’ve given. Civil ceremonies are also a good option for couples with children who would like to emphasize the fact that a whole new family is now created. Perhaps you and your partner are of different faiths and wish to integrate their traditions into the ceremony – or leave out religious aspects altogether. Whatever your reason for choosing a civil wedding ceremony, the possibilities for customization are as infinite as the commitment it represents. Elements of a Civil Marriage Ceremony There are no rules governing how elaborate your marriage ceremony must be, or where it must take place; your imagination is the only limit. At its most basic, a civil ceremony will include a legal authorization by your marriage celebrant and a simple exchange of vows. You may wish to include a special greeting to welcome your guests, a reading of prose, poetry or a meaningful quote, or a personal anecdote: how the two of you met, for example, or what you love about each other. To add a further touch of personality, you may choose to write your own vows. Whether the tone is lighthearted and humorous, or touching and romantic, is entirely your choice. The beauty of civil marriage ceremonies is that they can range from small and intimate gatherings to more lavish affairs; they allow for the utmost flexibility and can be adapted to your liking. Many couples make their ceremonies unique by incorporating both traditional and nontraditional elements. The bride can be customarily “given away,” for example – but instead of her father performing the duty as in a conventional wedding, the responsibility could be given to another relative or even a friend, anyone the bride chooses. In a civil ceremony, time-honored traditions can be tempered with a surprise touch of the unconventional. Handfasting – An Ancient Custom for a Modern Ceremony Today’s couples are increasingly turning to ancient wedding rites for inclusion in their ceremonies, sometimes keeping entirely with tradition, sometimes altering them according to personal preference. A classic illustration of this is the addition of a handfasting ritual. This Celtic marriage custom, dating back thousands of years, involves the hands of the bride and groom being bound together with a red ribbon. It symbolizes the strength of their union and their passion for each other. Represent Your Union with Unity Candles Another popular practice is the lighting of unity candles. Its exclusivity of religious significance makes it suitable for any couple. Two candles, representing the couple as individuals, are lit. They are then used to light a third, central candle that represents the unification of the couple and their commitment to both the marriage and each other. The many potential variations ensure a perfect fit into your specific ceremony. For instance, the individual candles may be lit prior to the ceremony, or during the ceremony by the bride and groom, or by the couple’s parents. There may be more candles added to represent your children. Even the color of the candles can stand for something: green for fertility, red for vitality, white for purity. The tradition of a unity candle offers a meaningful way to involve family members in your ceremony, and can be personalised further according to your liking. Add a Touch of Romance with a Rose Ceremony A rose ceremony is also a beautiful and expressive ritual. Roses have long been considered a romantic means of conveying love to your partner, and the exchange of such a symbol is a simple act that holds profound significance. The roses are typically exchanged after the couple is officially pronounced husband and wife; however, this element may be incorporated into any part of the ceremony. It can be accompanied by the reading of a quote, poem, or scripture, by a special musical selection, or left to speak for itself. You may want to give roses to your parents as well, or have your children present a rose to their new stepparent; such a ceremony is an ideal method for the inclusion of loved ones, especially if your children are very young. The endless, inspiring freedom of civil ceremonies allows you to create the wedding of your dreams. You can incorporate your family and friends in any part. Honor the beloved memory of someone special. Blend ancient rites with modern customs. Start a new family wedding tradition as a gift to the brides and grooms of future generations. Your civil ceremony will be an artful blending of carefully chosen elements that convey the essence of your personalities, the strength of your commitment to one another, and the unbounded love you share. After all, isn’t that the true purpose of a wedding?

About the Author: Melbourne wedding celebrant, John Hose, is an experienced marriage celebrant who is available for advice and assistance in planning your civil wedding ceremony. Visit his website at

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