Church Wedding vs. Civil Wedding: Which One Should I Choose?

Have you ever imagined or dreamed about your wedding? The flowers, decorations… the song playing as you walk down the aisle? Like most people, you are probably looking forward to that special day -- the day that you get married to the love of your life! Of course, another important thing to consider is the type of wedding you’d like to have.

In this article, we are going to discuss two main types of weddings in the Philippines: church weddings and civil weddings. Specifically, we will compare them in terms of several factors: venue, marriage officiant, attire, preparations, requirements, and costs.

1. Venue

As the term implies, church weddings are held in places of worship (i.e. churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc.). Civil wedding, on the other hand, are typically conducted in city halls or municipality courtrooms. They may also be held in other places, such as restaurants, beach resorts, or garden venues.

2. Marriage Officiant

A church wedding is officiated by a priest, pastor, minister, or any religious leader. Meanwhile, a civil wedding is usually officiated by a city/municipality mayor, or a judge. In some cases, it may also be officiated by a military commander, ship captain, or a consul-general.

3. Attire

In terms of attire, church weddings tend to be more formal and traditional. Catholic and Protestant weddings, for example, usually involve an “entourage.” Aside from the bride, groom, and their parents, there are primary sponsors (godparents), secondary sponsors (bridesmaids and groomsmen), “flower girls,” a ring-bearer, and so on. Everyone is dressed in formal gowns and suits (or barongs) – complete with floral bouquets, corsages, and other accessories.

Compared to church weddings, civil weddings are usually less formal. The “entourage” is typically limited to the bride, groom and two “witnesses.” The attire tends to be simpler as well, with the bride wearing a white dress and the groom donning a long-sleeved polo shirt.

4. Preparations

Generally speaking, church weddings require more planning and preparation. In fact, some couples even hire a wedding coordinator to put everything together! When planning a church wedding, couples are often advised to start preparing at least six months ahead of the target date.

In contrast, civil weddings are relatively easier to plan and coordinate. As long as you have all the requirements, you could probably prepare a civil wedding in just two weeks!

5. Requirements

Speaking of requirements, here’s what a couple needs to prepare for a civil wedding:

Marriage License Application Form

1 x 1 picture (recent)

Birth Certificate (issued by Philippine Statistics Authority)

At least two (2) valid IDs

Barangay Clearance

Community Tax Certificate

Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)

Certificate of Attendance in a Pre-Marriage Seminar (held by Local Civil Registrar)

Meanwhile, in a Catholic church wedding, the couple needs to prepare ALL of the above requirements, plus a few additions:

Baptismal Certificate

Confirmation Certificate


Canonical Interview (done by the parish priest)

Wedding Permit (if getting married outside local parish)

Notably, both types of weddings require at least two (2) people to serve as “witnesses” (in the case of civil weddings) or “principal sponsors” (in the case of church weddings).

5. Costs

Civil weddings are generally less costly to prepare than church weddings. For instance, obtaining all the necessary documents may cost between PHP 3,000 to PHP 5,000 – depending on location. Additional budget may then be set aside for the wedding reception.

As for church weddings, the range is considerably higher, from at least PHP 50,000 to PHP 500,000… or even more! Expenses to consider include church fees, gowns and suits for the entourage, flowers, decorations, and photographer – not to mention wedding reception costs!

The Bottom Line

If you are still undecided on the type of wedding you’d like to have, simply refer to the above guide. At the end of the day, your wedding would depend on your available time, budget, and personal preferences. Whether you choose to have a church wedding or a civil wedding, both types are legally binding – thus marking a significant start in your life as a married couple.

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