How to Do the ‘Legal Bit’ First and Plan a Heartfelt, Fun-Filled Party Later

Now, more than ever before, couples have a very good reason to make their marriage official before holding a big celebration at a later date. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many to postpone their weddings until later this year or next. I’ve seen the heartache this has caused first-hand, and I know the situation is far from ideal. Now lockdown restrictions are being eased, couples at least have the option to hold a small civil ceremony, perhaps followed by a small reception. It might seem like a compromise, but it doesn’t have to be.

How to Do the 'Legal Bit' First and Plan a Heartfelt, Funfilled Party LaterPhotography by Red on Blonde Photography

Why Get Legally Married Before Your Wedding Day?

Global pandemic and government guidelines aside, I’ve worked with many couples who have chosen to have a separate civil ceremony. Here are a few reasons it might be the perfect choice for you…

  • You’ve had to postpone your wedding. Whether you’ve been forced to reschedule (or limit the size of your reception) due to COVID-19 or some other life circumstance, doing the legal bit first and saving the big celebration till later can make a difficult situation easier to bear.
  • You’re planning a destination wedding. Marriage regulations vary from country to country, so you may want to have your legally binding ceremony before jetting off.
  • Your dream wedding venue is unlicensed or unavailable on your preferred wedding date.
  • You want to get married outside. It’s not currently possible to do this in England and Wales without a fixed shelter such as a gazebo.
  • You’d like a humanist ceremony. This is currently only legally possible in Scotland.
  • You would prefer to exchange vows in an intimate setting, but you also want a big party with friends and family.
  • For some religions, if the official performing the ceremony is not authorised, either a Registrar must attend or you will need to have a separate civil ceremony.

How to Do the 'Legal Bit' First and Plan a Heartfelt, Funfilled Party LaterPhotography by Red on Blonde Photography

Even if your legal ceremony is going to be small and intimate, planning what feels like two weddings can be overwhelming! Here are some of my top tips…

Establish What You Want

At the moment, there are strict guidelines dictating what you can and can’t do at your legal wedding ceremony. While these restrictions are in place and even once the rules are relaxed, it’s important to figure out what you want your civil ceremony to look like. Who will attend? Do you want to get dressed up or keep it casual? Would you like a professional photographer to document the occasion? Like anything to do with your wedding, it’s important to discuss your plans, make decisions together and stick to them.

It Doesn’t Have to Be A Big Deal

It may be legally binding, but your civil ceremony doesn’t have to be grand or elaborate. You can opt for the briefest vows and there’s no need to exchange rings. It’s ok to keep things simple and you don’t have to tell anyone beyond your witnesses if you don’t want to.

wedding celebrant - Outdoor wedding ceremonyPhotography by Camera Hannah

Consider a Humanist or Celebrant-Led Ceremony

Doing the legal bit separately means you’re free to do whatever you want at your ‘real wedding’. A humanist ceremony is non-religious, giving you the flexibility to create something unique. Celebrants don’t advocate any one wedding path over another – their job is to embrace the practices, traditions and religions that are important to you by writing and performing a truly personalised ceremony. Both options are ideal if you want to get married outdoors or at an unlicensed wedding venue.

How to Do the 'Legal Bit' First and Plan a Heartfelt, Funfilled Party LaterPhotography by Camera Hannah

Make Your Party Personal 

The key to planning a heartfelt, fun-filled celebration is ensuring it reflects who you truly are as a couple. Embrace tradition or ignore it completely, serve your favourite food and play the music that makes you want to party! Personal touches will make the day feel extra special, so fill your ‘real wedding’ with the things you love and the people you care most about.

Not sure where to start? Benessamy can help! Discover our Wedding Planning Services or get in touch to arrange a consultation.

Val x

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