I believe I would be correct in saying that a civil wedding service is the most popular type of ceremony for couples getting married abroad.
I think it’s also important to note that in certain countries a civil wedding is the only type of wedding ceremony with any legal status. Therefore, if you wish to have a religious ceremony you must also have a civil ceremony to validate your marriage.
In countries such as Australia and the United States, a civil ceremony is legally binding if performed by a Civil Celebrant and is very much like a wedding blessing. In this type of ceremony you may incorporate your own choice of words and hold your ceremony in a location of your choice.
However, this is not the case in many parts of Europe, where a civil ceremony may only take place in officially deemed premises. Although you may include your own readings, the standard framework of the ceremony in most instances may not be altered.
That being said, Europe has some of the most beautiful venues in which you can have a civil wedding ceremony. They range from stunning 13th century monastery cloisters, incredible frescoed rooms, beautiful palaces to balconies overlooking the sea.
Some of the reasons why couples elect to have a civil wedding abroad:
- It is a non-denominational ceremony and does not contain any religious references.
- You often have the ability to personalise some of your service by choosing your own readings, music and vows.
- In many countries (although not all) a civil wedding can be conducted at a venue of your choice, e.g. on a beach, rainforest, chateau, hotel wedding chapel, aboard a yacht.
- It is generally the easiest and most straightforward ceremony to organise and you do not have to meet any extra religious requirements.
- In some countries, religious ceremonies are not legally recognised.
The legal requirements for having a civil wedding abroad do vary from country to country, but in most cases are relatively easy and straightforward. The documentation you will be required to produce to ensure your overseas wedding is legally binding is outlined in the required documentation section and the specifics about individual countries are detailed in a each country’s legal requirements guide.