In the recent times, couples who are on the verge of tying the knot are sometimes seen opting for civil ceremonies. They prefer the simplicity of a quiet ceremony in a legal office and thereby do away with the hassle of an elaborate and expensive religious social wedding.

The process
Civil ceremony in India is performed in conformance with the Indian Special Marriage Act of 1954. The couples, who want to forgo the grandeur of religious marriages more often than not, opt for civil ceremonies. These ceremonies are generally formal and conducted in the registry office, which is often located in the complex of a local court or municipality. Moreover, no additional effort is required to register the marriage, for the registration procedure itself constitutes the marriage ceremony. In this type of marriage, the couple needs to apply well in advance, usually one month before the ceremony. This time frame is used by the marriage officer, who is engaged in publishing an ad in the newspaper and giving an opportunity for anyone concerned to raise objections against the marriage.

Civil Marriage Ceremony Between an Indian and Foreigner
In case of a civil marriage conducted between an Indian and a foreign national in India, normally a notice needs to be filed for the proposed marriage with a Marriage Registrar in India. This notice is required to be published for the stipulated 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the marriage ceremony can be undertaken and the Marriage Registrar is allowed to perform it.

The civil ceremonies are proper legal procedures, which require precise documents to be submitted by both partners. So, in case one partner is located in a foreign country then the "Marriage Notice" has to be filed by the partner located in India. This "Notice" then needs to be sent to the partner in the foreign country who will also have to fill it out and send it back for re-submission at the Marriage Registration Office. After the stipulated waiting period of 30 days, the marriage can take place in India. Following are the documents that need to be submitted for both the partners :

  • Original Birth Certificate with parents' names
  • Valid Passport
  • In case the person concerned is widowed, the original death certificate of the deceased spouse
  • In case the person is divorced, copy of the final decree
  • Documentary evidence regarding stay in India for more than 30 days for both parties (ration card or report from the concerned SHO)

    Marriage is considered to be a sacred institution in Indian society. It may be observed differently by diverse people in different sects of the society but its sanctity and purpose is not diminished. A civil ceremony can be the perfect alternative of a religious marriage where both the partners want to enter into holy matrimony in the absence of any pomp and extravagance.