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CHURCH WEDDING: What is the difference between a Church/Religious Wedding Ceremony & Civil Wedding Ceremony?

CHURCH WEDDING: What is the difference between a Church/Religious Wedding Ceremony & Civil Wedding Ceremony?

The main difference is that a Church wedding is a religious service conducted by a member of the Clergy within a state, and at which a marriage takes place, as a Sacrament; while a civil ceremony is conducted by a nationally registered Marriage Celebrant so can take place anywhere in Australia, anytime, anyway, and with almost any content, religious or not, provided there is a compliance with the Marriage Act; and whilst the Minister may ask the couple questions in place of their Vows, in a Civil Ceremony, the couple say their vows to each other.

Church wedding

In a Church wedding, the couple face the altar and clergy member as it is about your  joining in Sacrament and so engage in prayer in a Church community to receive a holy blessing upon your union in the presence of the congregation you are joining as a couple/family and so the ceremony follows church doctrine, often limiting what can be done & said so as not to contradict or impinge upon religious belief or context and of course the congregation should be present in addition to your guests who may not be members of that congregation. If you are devoutly religious, attend a particular church together, want to take part Sacrament, wish to raise your children in that religion/church, want your children to attend the associated religious school and you will regularly attend Church services a family, then maybe consider a church wedding however if you are not intending to attend that church apart from your wedding, you should consider a Civil Ceremony.

Some Clergy will insist that your ceremony can only take place inside their Church building and may require you to attend Marriage Preparation courses.

If you are of different religions, some churches may also require a ‘conversion, i.e.. joining of that faith which may also include religious classes rituals over a period of time.

Civil Ceremony

A Civil Ceremony has almost no restriction.

It is entirely about your marriage and your choices.

A Civil Ceremony can be written especially for you and almost anything goes as long as the Monitum and vows are said and the Marriage celebrant is authorised. As with any marriage ceremony the vows and marriage law cannot be contradicted.

The couple usually by choice, face each other or the guests that they have invited.

You are required to have 2 witness for the signing of your Certificates but can have as many or as few guests as you like. If you want more signed witness a separate non-legal Certificate can be created.

No classes are required of any kind but as with as planned marriage, you will still be given a pamphlet to inform/remind you of what it means to be married.

A Civil Ceremony can have no religious content whatsoever or can include religious context and content. It is entirely your choice.

Here is my ‘generalised’ ready reckoner listing my interpretation of differences but if you have any questions or disagree with me on any point, let me know.

Item Civil Church
Requires one month’s notice under the law Yes Yes
You must provide proof of identity as well date/place of birth Yes Yes
You will be given a pamphlet to inform/remind you of what it means to be married. Yes Yes
Only 2 witnesses required for the signing of your legal Certificates Yes Yes
The Ceremony is designed/written especially for you Yes No
The Ceremony is entirely about your marriage Yes No
Can take place anywhere Yes No
Can take place anytime Yes No
Is a specifically religious service or sacramentNo Yes
Can take include a variety of rituals from different cultures or religions Yes No
You must ‘say’ your Vows to each other Yes No
You can have lots of friends of all denominations as guests. Yes Limited
Can only take place within the state or territory in which the Celebrant is registered. No Yes
The couple usually, by choice, face each other or the guests that they have invited. Yes No
You announce your vows by questions and answer only No Yes
Is conducted by a Minster of Religion (Clergy member) No Yes
Can marry regardless of age (provided over 18), sex or sexual orientation, gender, religious belief, culture, race etc, Yes Maybe
You can marry if you are unable or unwilling to have children Yes Maybe
You can marry if you are of the same sex /gender Yes Maybe
You can marry if you are LGBTQI Yes No
You can have LGBTQI bridal party Yes Maybe
You can marry if of the same sex as your partner Yes Maybe
You must be Baptised into the church (or similar ritual) No Yes
Can have almost any content, including non-religious, religious, ritualistic, humanist, agnostic, pagan, or not, Yes No
One or both in the couple must join the religion or Church No Yes
The ceremony must take place inside their Church building No Yes
The couple must attend Marriage Preparation classes. No Yes
The couple must be of the same religious faith No Usually
The couple must attend regular religious services and/or classes No Yes
Requires your children to join a particular religion No Yes
Restricts what you can wear No Yes
Has almost few or no restrictions apart from ‘don’t break the law or put any person in danger’. Yes No
Follows a church doctrine You choose Yes
Will include the reading of religious or Biblical text You choose Yes
Will include the reading of non-religious text You choose Maybe
Couple face the altar/front You Choose Yes
Couple and guests join in prayer You Choose Yes
You receive a form of Holy blessing You Choose Yes
You receive a Family blessing You Choose Your Choice
Will not contradict or impinge upon religious content/context You Choose Yes
Will definitely include religious context or contentYou Choose Yes
Will have no religion content at all. Your Choice No
Held at any venue or location of your choice
e.g. reception centre, garden, hall, restaurant, backyard, on horseback, mountainside, beach, cave, lounge-room, air-balloon, cliff face etc..
Your Choice Limited
Should include members of the local religious congregation Your Choice Yes

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