A courthouse wedding ceremony is a civil ceremony during which a couple makes vows to each other and the officiant pronounces them married. The specifics of the ceremony may be personalized to the extent that the couple chooses in many cases. The officiant generally will follow a set ceremony unless the couple explains to the officiant in advance that they would like to modify it.
Normally, the ceremony begins with opening words spoken by the officiant. He or she may speak on the subject of marriage itself or on a topic requested by the couple. The officiant may move directly on to acquiring the couple’s consent to marriage, unless the couple has asked him or her for a variation in the ceremony. Some couples may have readings added into the ceremony, done either by the officiant or a friend of the couple, at this time.
The officiant must receive the couple’s consent to wed as part of the wedding ceremony. This consent confirms that both parties are eligible to marry and that both are interested in completing the marriage.
Vows in a courthouse wedding ceremony may be standard statements set forth by the officiant or personalized by the couple. The couple may choose to write their own vows to be read by the officiant or recited directly by the couple. They may also choose to use ones found elsewhere and have the officiant state them for the couple to repeat. The exact words within the vows are not important to the ceremony itself, but vows of some kind must be included to make the ceremony official.
If the couple is going to exchange rings, this follows the vows. Any words to be exchanged with the rings may be standard or personalized by the couple. If the couple chooses not to exchange rings, then the officiant moves on to any other readings or special statements to the couple.
Then the officiant will finally pronounce the couple married and end the wedding ceremony. The proclamation will occur along with any closing words, and each jurisdiction may have specific items that must be included to make the ceremony legal.