Civil Wedding Ceremony

Civil ceremonies may be the best option for couples that are unsure about their own religious convictions – or who simply prefer a small, simple and inexpensive ceremony. Also for couples who may choose to bypass the tension and potential family problems of an interfaith ceremony by having a civil ceremony. The officiant in a civil ceremony is a judge or other civic official legally qualified to perform a marriage.

Civil ceremony in the office of the Registrar of Marriages

Once the Legal notice of 21 days has been issued, the couple pays Kshs.1400 and book a date for the marriage. This should be up to 3 months in advance. The celebration must be between 10:00am and 4:00pm. Once celebrated, the officer issues a certificate of marriage and the parties are required to sign in duplicate and the signatures witnessed by at least two people. The couple retains one copy of the certificate and the other is sent to registrar of marriages. If you prefer to hold your ceremony in the civic official’s office, think twice about your wedding attire. You may not feel comfortable coming and going in a full-length gown. The dress code is a street-length dress or suit for the bride and a suit for the groom.

Civil Ceremony at Your Chosen Venue
Contrary to the stereotype (a barren scene in a judge’s chambers that takes all of twenty seconds), being “civil” does not necessarily mean boring, quick or small. If you like, you can have a civil ceremony with all the trimmings of a traditional church wedding granted. It won’t be in a religious setting, and no religious officials will be present, but you can summon a sense of power and drama. After all, your civic official isn’t tied to a chair in his office. Get him or her out of the office – and into a hotel ballroom, garden or on a dhow or anywhere else you feel like having your wedding.

A Special License is required if the civil wedding ceremony is to take place in a place other than the Registrar’s office. You should give a 21 day legal notice and a fee of Kshs.10,250 over and an above the Kshs.200 is payable. The registrar can travel to your chosen venue to conduct a civil ceremony. Confirm that the registrar is available on the day. The ceremony involves the signing of the certificate, which is a five-minute job. You can however incorporate vows of your choice provided the registrar approves them.

This type of civil ceremony can also be booked up to 3 months in advance. Civil ceremonies not held at marriage registrar’s chambers are usually held at the reception site, which tends to make things more convenient for all involved. It doesn’t make such sense to rent a hotel ballroom for the ceremony, and then move everyone for the reception.

Order of Service
This ceremony takes about 10 – 15 minutes. The exact content will be at the registrar’s discretion. Legally, a civil wedding can’t have vows, songs, poems or readings with religious references.

Once everyone’s seated and you and your groom are together at the front of the room, the registrar will welcome everyone and explain what will happen in the ceremony.

This might include:
“We are here today to witness the joining in matrimony of …………. and ……………… “. “……………. and ………………….., before you are joined in matrimony I have to remind you both of the solemn and binding
character of the vows you are about to make. Marriage according to the law of this country is the union of one man and one woman, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others. But more than this, marriage is also intended to provide the love and friendship, help and comfort, which each ought to have for the other, both in times of joy and the times of hardship.”

You and your groom then declare your intention to marry. This might include: “…………..will you hold your bride’s / groom’s hand. Will you take ……………..to be your lawful wedded wife / husband, to be loving, faithful and to be loyal to her / him in living your lives together?” Response: “I will”.

Marriage Vows
Legally required vows of marriage must be included in the ceremony. For example: “I do solemnly
declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I …………may not be joined in matrimony to……………… I call upon these persons here present to witness that I …………………do take thee…………….to be my lawfully wedded wife / husband.”

Exchanging Rings
You can make personal vows to each other as well as legal ones. For example: “I give you this ring as
a symbol of my love, friendship and patience, to support and comfort you through good times and
troubled times.”

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