If you are planning to marry but the religious ceremony is not for you, you can choose to celebrate the wedding with a civil ceremony. Nowadays, there are more and more engaged couples who opt for this possibility, for the most varied reasons. These are not symbolic marriages, but rituals with legal value: at the end, you will be officially husband and wife, without giving your union a religious meaning. 

The civil ceremony has its own procedures and a set of rules to follow too, but can be extensively customized according to your tastes and your idea of love. 

Let’s see everything you need to know about this type of marriage… 

The bureaucratic process of the civil ceremony in Abruzzo, Lazio and Umbria 

That is: what must be done, in anticipation of a civil marriage in these regions, as in the rest of Italy? The passages are substantially the same as in the Catholic ceremony– indeed, in this case the procedure is slightly more streamlined. 

About six months before the date you have in mind for your wedding, you start to get all the necessary documents released and then present them to the town of your city (L’Aquila, Orvieto or Rieti, for example). The basic ones are the certificate of residence, the birth certificate, the free state and citizenship, but others could be added in case one of you is for example divorced or foreigner. Don’t worry: at the office in charge they will explain exactly everything you will have to deliver. 

The next step is to officially establish a date on which to exchange promises and to carry out publications, which remain available for about a week. If no one intervenes to prevent the wedding (which usually happens only in the movies!), you will receive the permission and you will be able to marry in the following 180 days.

Who can celebrate the civil ceremony 

Unlike religious marriage, which can only be celebrated by a priest, and by the symbolic one, in which anyone can be an officiant, in the civil ceremony several figures can come into play– but there are precise rules to follow. In Abruzzo, Lazio and throughout Italy, the law prescribes that it must be an officer of civil status to celebrate this type of ritual: normally, it is the mayor. You will surely have seen him on several occasions, including weddings, with the tricolour band: that is the very symbol that identifies his official role. 

Clearly, the mayor cannot personally celebrate all the weddings in his city, so the other delegates of the municipality (councillors and city councillors) are also qualified for this function. 

After that, there may be situations where the mayor is asked to delegate to allow someone else to officiate the civil rite: he could be the mayor of another municipality or any Italian citizen who enjoys political and civil rights. 

Yes, you can have your wedding celebrated by someone particularly close to you… a delegation from the mayor will suffice and the rite will be absolutely legal! Attention, however: also in this case there are some precise rules for the choice of the officiant. You cannot be a minor or even someone who does not have all the political and civil rights, or who is not an Italian citizen. In addition, you will not be able to choose your direct relative (such as a parent or brother), while indirect relatives such as uncles or 

cousins will be given the go-ahead. Even a friend could be a good choice: since he knows you and loves you in a special way, he will do everything to make the ceremony unique and touching.

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The role of witnesses in the civil rite 

It may sound strange, but when you decide to get married one of the most difficult issues to deal with is the choice of witnesses. Perhaps you too have found yourselves wanting to assign this role to several people, including friends and relatives… And choosing turned out to be more complicated than you thought. 

First of all, in order to select, one must understand one fundamental thing: how many witnesses are needed in a civil ceremony? Actually, two are enough: one for the bride and one for the groom. According to the civil code, it is sufficient that two persons, in addition to the spouses, listen to the reading of the articles related to the marriage and sign the act that is filled out immediately after the ceremony. 

This does not alter the fact that if you wish to give a special place to some people particularly important to you, you may add “presence witnesses”. They will be able to sit beside you during the ceremony and may also have specific roles in the personalization of the rite (which we will be discussing shortly). They simply won’t sign the marriage certificate.

Where to celebrate a wedding according to civil ceremony in Lazio, Abruzzo or Umbria 

The code states that the rite must be celebrated publicly in the municipal house, in the presence of the official of civil status. Usually, in fact, this is the practice: the ceremony takes place in the main hall of the municipality of residence, such as Narni or Orvieto. 

In recent years, however, there has been an increasing tendency to exchange marriage vows in alternative and suggestive locations, both inside particular places and in the open. Throughout Italy, it is the municipalities themselves that have begun to provide suitable spaces for civil marriages with legal value. 

You will therefore have the opportunity to choose between historic buildings, places of special importance for your city, gardens, libraries or even beaches: substantially, it is very likely that you will be able to celebrate your wedding in any type of location you dream of! 

In order to find out which places your municipality has approved, you will have to go to the offices and ask for a list. After that, you just have to choose what you prefer and apply to carry out your civil ceremony there. Consider that there may be waiting lists and long time to get permits, so try to move ahead a little early to avoid being disappointed and having to change all plans all of a sudden.

How the civil ceremony unfolds… and how to personalize it! 

The civil ceremony, unlike the religious one, is usually very short and in its basic version it can be cold and impersonal at times. 

The structure provides first of all for the official of civil status to read Articles 143, 144 and 147 of the Code– concerning the reciprocal rights and duties of spouses, family life, residence and duties towards children. After that, he will ask you if you really intend to join in marriage and then he awaits your consent. At this point the exchange of the rings will take place– but only if you wish to accomplish it, because the civil ceremony does not necessarily foresee it. The last official passage is the one of the completion of the marriage act, which will be signed by spouses and witnesses. 

The set of these phases can last from 15 to 30 minutes approximately: it is a quick ceremony, which could please those who do not love sweets or could also leave the romantics with a feeling of unfulfilled. 

The beauty of the civil ceremony is that it is absolutely customizable, so you can solve this eventual problem before it occurs! Of course, you will need to make sure that the officiant agrees with your changes to the playlist, so you should really agree everything in advance. 

So here are some ideas to make your wedding unique and sewn on you:

  • Write your own wedding vows after the fateful “I do”. It will be a way to express all the love you feel for each other, with the people who love you as witnesses. 
  • Speak to the guests with the reading of songs or poems, which can be chosen by you or by themselves. 
  • You previously decide to have a musical background, live or recorded, for your entrance into the ceremony hall or perhaps for the final phase, in which you will be restrained to sign the marriage act.You can choose the songs that most represent you and that tell the salient moments of your love. 
  • You should add a symbolic ritual, to be performed before or after having read the articles of the code. It could be the ritual of the union of sand or that of the fire of candles: in any case, it will be a representation of the bond you are sealing. 
  • At the end of the ceremony, replace the classic rice with colored confetti, soap bubbles or flower petals: it will be a touch of originality that will tell a lot about you! 

As you can see, a marriage with civil ceremony can be as exciting as the traditional religious one… indeed, perhaps even more for you because you will be free to create a customized ceremony that reflects you completely.

Don’t forget to predict the presence of a photographer who will immortalize the most significant moments of the event, and who may also make videos. It will be touching to listen to your vows again, or to see your best friend reading a poem for you. You will be able to preserve the vivid visual memory of the emotional gaze of your mothers and of the gestures of complicity among each other on a day that marks the beginning of a new life together… and that deserves to be properly remembered.