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How to Plan a Same-Sex Civil
Marriage Ceremony

Many people choose a civil wedding
ceremony. This may be because of
convenience, lack of or conflicting
religious traditions or even time
constraints. Civil marriages, just like
marriages performed by clergy, are
contracts between two persons and
require actions and agreements
between the parties. They can be as
formal or informal, sentimental or
streamlined as the couple wishes.
Once you've decided to use a civil
ceremony, there are a number of
things that any good wedding planner
will tell you to get to work on. Read on
to learn what they are.

Instructions

1
Get your marriage license. Since civil
marriage is regulated by state statute,
these are most usually handled by a
county clerk. In some states, a town
or city clerk may issue marriage
licenses. You may find an office at city
hall if your city is large or a county
seat. Be sure that you meet the
residency requirement for the license.
A license to marry is always good for a
specific period of time and there is
generally a period of a few days
between issuance and when it
becomes valid. Ask questions if you
have them. Clerks love to help happy
people.

2
Find an officiant. Most clerks can refer
you to local judges and court
commissioners who will perform
ceremonies. They also generally know
these people so if you want, say, a
ceremony where the officiant will
travel to the site of your wedding or
special vows, someone in the clerk's
office will be usually be able to make
some recommendations.

3
Contact the officiant of your choice.
Most officiants will expect a fee to
travel to perform a wedding. Most
states prohibit officiants from asking
for a fee to perform a wedding in a
courthouse or other public building.

4
Consult with the officiant about your
ceremony. Many have a book of
ceremonies that they use that can be
personalized. If you're doing a
courthouse ceremony, the standard
"do you take--I now pronounce you"
ceremony is fine but if you are doing
the ceremony in front of family and
friends, make sure that there is
inclusive language in the script to
involve your guests in the ceremony.
Many officiants welcome personal
vows to be added to the ceremony.

5
Arrange your venue. After you've got
your wedding site chosen and
reserved, look it over for arrangement,
parking and rest facilities. If you're
having your wedding in a reception
hall, these facilities often have
coordinators who can make sure that
the crowd moves smoothly from
ceremony to reception. If you're doing
your wedding at home, in a park or
some other non-traditional place, be
sure to check out where the restrooms
are (and if they are sufficient for your
crowd), parking and public
transportation and, finally, where you
want to stand. It may be unpleasant
for you to stand facing the sunset to
say your vows but it is more
comfortable for you and the officiant to
"cheat" (a stage term that means to
look like you're looking one place but
actually be facing another) a bit than it
is for your audience to squirm and
shield their eyes so that they miss
your first married kiss.
Invitation Etiquette

The way you word your invitations will
say a lot about the style of your
wedding. Whether you choose a
formal wording or an informal or fun
wording that matches your theme, just
be sure you stay consistent
throughout all the elements of your
invitation.

For formally worded invitations, use
the following suggestions:

• Use the British spelling of “honour”
when requesting the honour of their
presence.

• Use formal names (no nicknames)
including middle names for the bride
and groom.

• When wording your invitations, be
sure to use full names and formal titles
(only abbreviate Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Jr.).

• Also use the full spellings of
addresses (First Street), dates
(Saturday, the twentieth of February)
and years (two thousand ten).• Spell
out abbreviations (e.g., Court, Street,
Avenue and Road).

• Spell out all numbers except house
numbers and apartment numbers.

• Spell out times. For example, 4:00
PM would be four o’clock in the
afternoon.

• Use line breaks instead of commas.

For informally worded invitations, use
the following guidelines:

• Have fun with your wording and tie it
into your theme. For example, an
invitation to a Western wedding could
say, “Rounding up all friends and
family,” or an invitation to a
destination wedding could say, “Join
us in an escape to paradise.”

• Carry through the fun wording style
on your reception and respond cards.

• Incorporate your favorite verse,
quotation or poem into your wording.

• Feel free to omit formal titles or even
Mr. and Mrs. from your wording.

Invitation sending etiquette

• To avoid confusion (and too many
unexpected guests attending your
wedding), everyone invited should
receive an actual invitation. For
instance, avoid placing an invitation on
the bulletin board at work; this opens
you up to every single coworker and
his or her spouse and perhaps
children attending and could lead to
an impossible situation when trying to
arrive at an accurate guest count.

• Only one invitation should be sent to
a couple.

• Children under the age of 18 may be
included on the invitation sent to their
parents; children older than 18 should
receive their own invitations, even if
they are living with their parents.

• Be sure to send an invitation to your
parents, grandparents and bridal
party members.

• Invitations should be sent six to
eight weeks before the ceremony to
allow guests plenty of time to make
travel arrangements and plans for
your wedding.
Your Wedding usually begins 6 to 12
months before the Big Day

During this time you should:

Announce your engagement and set
the date.
Meet with your parents and future in-
laws.
Discuss the budget with your fiancé.
Reserve the ceremony site; reception
site and the officiant.
Select members of the wedding party.
Meet with potential wedding
consultants.
Interview and sign contracts with
vendors: i.e. photographer, baker,
florist and caterer.
Buy wedding insurance.
Select attendants attire.
More


International

Su ceremonia comienza generalmente
6 a 12 meses antes del gran día.
Mas...

你的婚礼通常开始婚礼前..もっと

天6至12个月...更多

Votre cérémonie commence
habituellement de 6 à 12 mois avantle
grand jour ...
Plus d'informations

Ihre Feier beginnt in der Regel 6 bis 12
Monate vor dem Big Day...
Mehr

आपके समारोह आमतौर पर बड़ा दिन पहले 6 से 12
महीने शुरू होता है ...
और अधिक

あなたの式は、通常、ビッグデイ前6ヶ月から
12ヶ月を開始...
もっと見る

Din ceremonin börjar vanligtvis 6 till 12
månader innan den stora dagen ...
Mer

Din Ceremony begynder som regel 6 til
12 måneder før den store dag ...
Mere ...



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The Reception or Party

Traditional seating for a formal
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party, the dinner seating it is easiest to
have relatives nearest the newlyweds,
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course, a buffet works well for after
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