Symbolic vs. Civil Ceremonies

When choosing a destination wedding, many couples overlook one extremely important detail—whether to have a symbolic or civil ceremony.

A civil ceremony is legally binding and officially recognized by the government. On the other hand, a symbolic ceremony is more of a commitment service and not a legally recognized marriage. Before choosing a destination for your symbolic or civil ceremony, here are five things to consider:

  1. If you have already narrowed your search to a few destinations and/or resorts, what types of options do they offer? Most resorts offer symbolic ceremonies, but others may push couples toward a more traditional civil ceremony.

  2. What are the legal requirements for marriage in the destination you are considering? It’s fairly easy to get married in Jamaica or the Bahamas, but more difficult in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

  3. How much work are you willing to do when you arrive at your resort? Some destinations require a great deal of paperwork and even blood testing before couples can legally marry.

  4. Do you want to customize your ceremony by writing your own vows, having friends and family participate, or adding your own creative flair? Many destinations require officiants follow a very specific script and couples participate in a predetermined style of ceremony to be legally married in a civil ceremony.

  5. Are you committed to a specific date, and only one wedding date? If you marry in the states then travel to a destination, you will essentially have two wedding dates which is undesirable for some couples.

To learn more about symbolic vs. civil ceremonies, check out these two articles: