Is a symbolic wedding a real wedding?
You want to get married in your dream venue overseas so why is it called a destination wedding and not a marriage? Well, a marriage and a wedding are actually two different things – a symbolic wedding IS your real wedding day!
What’s the difference between a marriage and a wedding?
Marriage is a legal contract usually comprising 40 words plus your names and your signatures witnessed in a register. A wedding is the ceremonial celebration. The marriage and the wedding can be together, or at different times… that’s when it gets exciting!
A marriage is a legal contract
Historically, marriage was a record that could be used to prove amongst other things, legitimacy and inheritance. Nowadays many couples are not religious or are of mixed religions so contracting their marriage by the minister of one particular faith is not an option. In this instance they may turn to a registrar to marry them….. but what about the wedding part?! If the marriage is the legal contract, then the wedding is the ceremonial celebration. You can hold your wedding separately to the day of your marriage and you have choices as to who will lead your wedding.
A registrar-led marriage plus wedding ceremony
The registrar will usually offer a non-religious wedding ceremony to go with the legal marriage element and is constrained by other legal obligations. A marriage combined with a registrar-led wedding ceremony may fall far short of the ceremony of your dreams (I was a Deputy Superintendent Registrar) and most certainly will not be on a palm tree lined Mediterranean or Caribbean beach! So what are your options?
A Humanist-led marriage plus wedding ceremony
Interestingly in some countries including Scotland, “Humanism” is a recognised belief system and so a Humanist wedding ceremony is also recognised as legal marriage and can include personalised vows and rituals…. but a Humanist wedding will not include religious elements either.
An independent Celebrant-led wedding ceremony
So for many newly engaged couples who want a wedding ceremony without anyone telling them what they can and cannot include, your most flexible wedding friend is your independent wedding Celebrant. An independent Celebrant can weave whatever you want into your wedding ceremony – traditional wording, totally off the wall unique elements, themed, with/without religion, anything goes. Take that one step further and you will find an independent destination wedding Celebrant like me here in southern Spain – offering your ideal wedding ceremony with the benefit of 320 days of warm sunshine!
The wedding ceremony is when the memories are made
These days, it is becoming more common to go through the quick legalities of registering your marriage in your own country (or in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar) then concentrating on creating the wedding ceremony of your dreams at your dream destination with an independent celebrant who will weave into your unique ceremony your values, your love story, your own vows and whatever rituals are important to you. Without question, the wedding ceremony is when your most beautiful memories are made.
Your symbolic wedding ceremony is your Real Wedding Day
So yes, you can have your wedding cake and eat it too! You can combine a legal marriage in your own country then pull out the stops and have that full-blown destination wedding with an awesome, totally personalised independent Celebrant-led wedding ceremony with hand-fasting, heartfelt vows and amazing romantic photos of you walking into the sunset. There is a difference between a marriage and a wedding and if I were you I would take full advantage and totally celebrate that fact and embrace the difference!
Click here to hear Debbie chatting about the difference between a marriage and a wedding
Biography: Debbie Skyrme is an independent wedding Celebrant (former UK Deputy Superintendent Registrar) officiating bilingual symbolic wedding ceremonies in southern Spain.
Your perfect wedding ceremony location is closer than you think!