Traditionalists might look down on it, but the civil ceremony isn't the copout version of a wedding. You might think of eager young teens eloping, or the remedy for the couple with the unexpected surprise, but the civil ceremony is a simple and cost effective way to pull off the Big Day.

People choose this option to reflect their style, budget or maybe they just come from the church of "don't talk with your mouth full and be nice to people." In any case, here's how to make the best of your civil ceremony.

Keep everyone civil at the civil ceremony:

The crux of this nontraditional option is that it doesn't have a religious focus. That doesn't mean that it's not spiritual or that God isn't invited, but if you don't want the church and the steeple, you are good to go.

As a heads-up for civil ceremonies in the UK, it's unlawful to include any hymns or religious poems in the service. Where as in the United States, you can throw any religion you want into the Cuisinart to get the frothy dose of non-denominational goodness.

Another attractive element of civil ceremonies is flexibility. In my personal experience with my sister's wedding at the New York County Courthouse, the ceremony took around 20 minutes, which was less time than it took to wait in line for the marriage license, and the whole ordeal cost less than $200.

A civil ceremony doesn't mean that you have to get married in a courthouse. Realistically, you can get married anywhere (and anyway) you want. The best bang for your buck is in public owned land or facilities like: national or county parks, beaches, historical landmarks or anything with really sweet architecture. Take Carrie Bradshaw's wedding in the library for example, it was totally awesome... if she pulled it off.

Who can marry you?

This depends from state to state, but you'd be surprised how many different jobholders there are that have the legal authority to tie the knot, such as:

  • Chaplain
  • County clerk
  • Judge
  • Justice of the peace
  • Mayor
  • Minister
  • Notary public
  • Pastor
  • Priest
  • Rabbi
  • Superior court clerk
  • Township council member

Wedding Tip: Find out if there are any additional logistics or paperwork necessary for the type of officiant you choose. It's also a good idea to help the officiant write out the ceremony. It will be a bummer, if they just go up and wing it on the most important day of your life.

Even though civil ceremony is a little unconventional, make sure to recognize the special nature of this occasion by adding some personal touches like engraved cuff links. Give a tip of the hat to all the close friends that help in pulling off a wonderful civil ceremony with some spectacular groomsmen gifts from