Lv 5
MarkR asked in Family & RelationshipsWeddings · 8 months ago

How does a civil marriage ceremony generally work in the US?

Does the celebrant meet the couple at the courthouse? Does the couple go to the celebrants office? Vows in a civil ceremony?

8 Answers

  • Edna
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    First, a couple has to obtain a Marriage License, in order to get married in the first place.  

    A couple can't just walk in off the street and get married in a Civil ceremony in a courthouse. The couple has to make  advance arrangements with the courthouse or with the celebrant in order to have a wedding there. The celebrant is usually already some where IN the court house - he's usually a judge or an officer of the court, and he has an office in the court house.  

    The wedding might be conducted in his office, or it might be conducted in a special room in the courthouse that is used for weddings and that the couple has 'booked' for a specific date and time.  

    The couple has to phone the courthouse and make advance arrangements for all the details. The courthouse charges a fee for the use of its facilities (which might or might not include the celebrant's fee for his time). Not ALL courthouses conduct marriage ceremonies - some do; some don't.  


    If the couple is getting married in a Civil ceremony in a private home, they make advance arrangements with the celebrant, and he comes to their home to conduct the marriage ceremony. The celebrant charges a fee for his time.  


    The vows that are exchanged in a Civil ceremony are the same vows that are exchanged in a religious ceremony in church.

  • Ocimom
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Either you go to the courthouse and before the judge, or you go to a place called "Justice of the Peace" office.

  • 8 months ago

    Usually a couple goes in and the officiant/judge says the speech , asks for agreement from each person and then signs the license. No fuss, no special lines, no bridesmaids, no groomsmen. No fuss no muss. Basically the same as a regular wedding but without the ceremony or pomp.

  • AJ
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Once you get the license, a judge right there at the courthouse can marry the two of you.

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  • 8 months ago

    You can do whatever you want.   Sure, city hall or courthouse (check locally) is an option, but all states keep lists of officiants certified to perform marriages in that state.   In some states, this is listed by county.   Once you find someone, they can come to a home or backyard, go to a private room in a restaurant, or pretty much anywhere you want to have the ceremony. 

    On vows, you have very little leeway at city hall or courthouse, because to them, you're basically "official business".   If you find an officiant and pick the locale, there's a lot more flexibility.  You can customize the vows or even say your own.  

  • Foofa
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    The judge who functions as the officiate is already at the courthouse and the ceremony will be conducted in a special room set aside for such purposes.

  • 8 months ago

    For a non-religious wedding, couples in the US can marry in a courthouse or city hall; a banquet hall or hotel; another rented space (restaurant, museum, historic venue, firehouse hall, etc), their own home, a specific wedding chapel (like in Las Vegas), or a non-denominational chapel.

    The location doesn’t matter - if the officiant is certified to perform the ceremony and if the couple chooses not to invoke religion or God, then it can be called a civil ceremony.

    The US doesn’t require that civil and religious marriages be separate, the way some European countries do. US Couples married in a church, synagogue, mosque, etc, are married just the same as a couple who got married at a hotel or their house or Las Vegas or in City Hall. There is no distinction because the US recognizes church/temple weddings are legally valid, while the European countries who require a civil ceremony draw a distinction between a legal marriage and a religiously blessed marriage.

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    What is that important to you?

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