Inspirations for Weddings & Debuts Magazine / News, Promos & Ideas / May 19, 2020

Huwes-side Story: Beautiful Civil Weddings

What it’s like to just do the papers

By Marielle Ong

“Wedding.” Admit it. That one word automatically conjures images of a grand religious ceremony, complete with a procession in customized outfits. This is customarily followed by an even grander banquet afterwards. The concept of a big, white wedding is a significant part of our culture’s perception of getting married. But #realtalk, it’s definitely not the only way to get happily hitched. Definitely not while there is a pandemic.

In terms of legality, a civil wedding is as legit as it gets. And there are many reasons why this option is preferred by couples: First, as the times are defining it, it might be the wisest option as we move into the new normal. Before the pandemic, most may have chosen this route because of budgetary concerns. Second, some couples want to celebrate their union in a low-key way. Third, there are couples who aren’t inclined to have a religious ceremony. Fourth, some countries (like France!) actually require a civil wedding before a religious ceremony can happen. There are other reasons to take the plunge. But in short, even without the pomp and pageantry, a duly accomplished marriage certificate will be recognized by the law. asked three brides who took the civil wedding route pre-pandemic to share their insight on this equally meaningful alternative.

On Paper

There were practical concerns relating to Christine Fernandez and Redgie Galang’s wedding. “We needed the marriage certificate ASAP for work opportunities,” shares Christine. “Though we really planned for a church wedding initially, a civil wedding is faster and hassle-free.” The couple had also been cohabitating for the last 15 years, so they had the desire to make things Official.

The ceremony and ensuing reception was something the couple got to plan to their liking. “We had a color palette and theme for the flowers, souvenirs, and desserts.” The only other major concern was the lovebirds’ outfits. “No entourage to think about, so we were able to spend more of the budget on great food.”

Lessons learned? “I wished I checked the venue first, because it was small,” confessed Christine. “The Ninongs and Ninangs had a hard time fitting into the law office comfortably.” (Eds: The rules are most likely different with covid-19 and the new normal.) She also recommends that soon-to-weds confirm beforehand that their preferred date and time is available, since some busy law offices conduct civil ceremonies every 30 minutes. It’s necessary to prepare to work with a tight schedule.

See related article: Is it Legal to Get Married During ECQ or GCQ?

Another tip she shares is to look into civil wedding packages offered in the city hall. “The package usually includes an organizer who will handle everything for you,” Christine divulges. “No need to do the process step by step. In my case, we availed the package that entailed having the place reserved for us. No other couples were to be wed at the same time. Usually, the ceremony is conducted with many couples in the room.”

There’s also the matter of budget for her. “Money is hard to earn,” Christine stresses. “It is more practical to save money and use it to invest in a house or travel instead of using it for a grand wedding.”

Choosing Your Focus
Sweden-based Marianne Young and Joakim Håhl plan to have a civil ceremony in May. The motivation for their wedding is a desire to register as a married couple in the Swedish national registry. In terms of her ultimate wedding must-have, Marianne’s only request was to have the ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall, the venue where Nobel prize winners are awarded in.

When asked about why more couples should go for a civil wedding, Marianne has a straightforward understanding of it. “If couples are focused on building their lives together, you’ll see that priorities shift and funds tend to finance a mortgage instead of the frills in a typical wedding,” she points out. “Getting married is a ceremony you can celebrate in a simple and meaningful way. On the flip side, the act of marriage also is abiding by rule of law, so you sign papers really just like filing your income taxes. You can strip it to it’s bare minimum and it’s possible. Moments such as getting betrothed are precious, but a moment doesn’t have to be extravagant to be precious. Make it meaningful, not boisterous.

The couple experienced a slight hiccup in their plans however, and it was rather inconvenient. “I learned that the application to get married expires. We were delayed by a year because of this.” Luckily, it’s all systems go for the pair now.

Cost Efficient
A legally recognized union was the motivation for BR and LA to schedule their civil celebration. The pair organized an intimate ceremony with only family and a couple of friends present, and proceeded with a private dinner banquet. The bride doesn’t regret her decision. “It’s more intimate,” she explains. “And with the cost of weddings these days, even the budgeted ones are still expensive. If the couple wants to get married mainly for the purpose of being together, then it’s a good option.”

Looking back, however, B feels that she could’ve done a bit more research on the ceremony. “We didn’t know what to expect on the day of,” she admits. “We had enough knowledge of the legal aspects, but we weren’t really briefed on the flow of the event. I even expected there to be a line of couples being called in, quickly wed, and ushered out. We were just told to show up at the officiant’s office. We didn’t even know that the office could’ve accomodated more guests.” And a speedy event doesn’t have to mean a sloppy one. “Even if it’s a simple ceremony, put some thought into it. Pay a little more attention to things like where to eat afterwards and who to invite. It is still a celebration.”

Do you have questions about how to throw an intimate and beautiful wedding ceremony and reception? Tune in to Love Wins Live Broadcast Episode 2 with event stylist and interior designer Henry Pascual and events director and specialist Marex Gaba on Saturday, May 23, 10 AM at Themes n Motifs Facebook Page. You can also send us your questions beforehand through Facebook.

Share this article with a friend who plans to get married this year!

All photos courtesy of Christine Fernandez-Galang.


The Galangs sign their marriage license and make it official.