Tying The Knot: Church, Civil Ceremonies & Beyond

With more and more couples moving away from tradition and seeking to personalise as many aspects of their wedding as possible, it is not surprising that the type of ceremonies and options available to couples is on the rise.

Untangling the knot (pun intended) we look at the different types of ceremony and how to select which is right for you…

Photo courtesy of Caitlin + Jones

“Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married”

Despite being a time-honoured part of a wedding, the number of couples saying I do in religious ceremonies has decreased by nearly half over the last two decades. However roughly 25% of couples are still opting for a traditional church ceremony.

  • Without a doubt Churches are some of the most beautiful and extravagant pieces of architecture and can provide stunning backdrops for your photos. Even better these magnificent and ancient buildings are already prepared for ceremonies, which means there is no stress of picking a spot for the ‘altar’ and planning seating arrangements, which there is usually amples of.
  • Another advantage of church ceremony is that they solely take place indoors, so rain or shine, you don’t have to worry about the weather interrupting your ceremony or make last minute changes to your day if you opt for an outdoor ceremony, also most churches typically offering proper heating and air conditioning.

Whilst church ceremonies allow you to take part in a tradition shared by past generations, getting married in a church or other place of worship comes with its own set of rules unlike the more relaxed, informal nature of a civil ceremony.

  • Church ceremonies also means your wedding decor is more limited, as you can’t actually rearrange the space, although most allow flowers, aisle runners, what decor you can have will need to be discussed with the relevant parties, the same applies to photography.
  • Each church has it own set of rules, with some prohibiting all flash photography and other requiring specially granted permission, so you will need to consider how important it is to you to have your ceremony inside the church captured.
  • It is important to remember if you are not a parishioner (a member of the church you want to get married at) you may face some difficulties such as being placed on a waiting list, paying an additional donation to the church and is some cases not being able to hold your ceremony at the church, so its important to research this carefully before hand.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Macare

“To have and to hold”

The civil ceremony has come along way from its original registry office setting, with many venues, like ourselves, licenced to host civil ceremonies on-site, although less traditional and laid back, a civil ceremony can be just as magical and atmospheric as a church one.

  • Infact one of the main advantages of opting for a civil ceremony is the flexibility it gives you compared to a church one. Not only do you have more control of the decor and set up of your ceremony, you also have the freedom to have more personalised, non-religious readings.

This flexibility also stretches to the availability and timings of your wedding. A civil ceremony wedding can be organised in as little as a month, providing your venue is available and registry offices tend have better availability as they are able to conduct more ceremonies a day than churches.

  • Also having your whole day in one location,means your guests don’t need to travel between locations. Civil ceremonies also tend to be a lot shorter than church ones, as long as the legal requirements of the ceremony of fulfilled you can opt to skip readings and keep it short and simple.

Photo courtesy of Gareth Newstead Photography

In general most couples will already have an idea of the sort of wedding they want and there is no right or wrong way to say “I Do”.  All types of ceremony have there advantages and challenges, which is why the most important thing to remember when deciding is, that the happy couple is exactly that – happy.

After all, marriage is the union of two people very much in love, wishing to pledge their unwavering allegiance to each other for the rest of their lives. The context in which this takes place should be a reflection of the couple and their values, as much as it is about religion, venue or tradition. Only then can a couple decide which is the right way to start their long and exciting future together.

Why not discuss your ceremony and wedding plans with one of our wonderful coordinators and take advantage of our Affordable Wedding Package, which allows you to get married at The White Hart Inn from just £3,500.