Religious or Civil Ceremony?

Choosing what is right for you


Choosing whether to have a religious or civil ceremony can be a stumbling block for some couples. Whilst some know without fail that they want a religious ceremony and others know they definitely don’t want a religious ceremony there are those in between who are just not sure which to have. They may be feeling pressurised because their parents want them to have a church wedding or they may even be undecided between themselves.


To help you decide which type of ceremony might suit you best, here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of each.

Pros of a Religious Ceremony

  • Churches are the obvious choice if you are heavily into tradition and they have a special ambience about them that civil venues often don’t have
  • You will be married by a member of the clergy
  • Costs more than a civil ceremony

Cons of a Religious Ceremony

  • South Africa is a vast country and huge parts of it are miles away from both towns and churches. If you are planning on getting married in a Game Lodge, the nearest suitable church could be hundreds of miles away
  • More notice is required for a church wedding than a civil often more than 6 months in advance
  • You may have to meet in person before consent is given to marry you at the parish of your choice
  • Rehearsals will be necessary

Pros of a Civil Ceremony

  • More versatility — civil ceremonies can take place at any location in South Africa provided the marriage is performed by a designated marriage officer usually a judge or magistrate
  • Quite often the wedding ceremony and the reception take place in the same venue which makes travel arrangements far easier for guests
  • There is no need for you to speak or meet with the marriage officer beforehand
  • Civil ceremonies are great for couples who have totally opposite views on marriage and allows the wedding to take place
  • Can be arranged quicker

Cons of a Civil Ceremony

  • A register office ceremony can seem a little rushed and impersonal and there may well be other people waiting to follow you
  • You may be limited to the number of guests who can witness your wedding


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