What`s the difference between civil, religious and symbolic wedding?

When it comes to choosing the right type of ceremony, that`s a completely personal choice and different couples have different reasons for choosing one or the other. Today we`ll be describing each of these ceremony types so hopefully, you`ll get a good insight into some of the most important things you should consider before making a decision.


The religious ceremony is all about being married in front of God, while a civil ceremony is about being married by the law. In Croatia, religious ceremonies can be held only in churches, no outdoor religious ceremonies are allowed or considered valid. Religious ceremonies by their nature have a strict format and don`t offer many editing opportunities.

It would be wrong to have a church wedding solely for the purpose of atmospheric photos and grandiose bridal entrance, as churches are a place of worship and the wedding ceremony is sacred and holy. The duration of a religious wedding can vary anywhere in between 20min if you`re having only the ceremony and up to 60min for a full holly mass with the music program. The fee for a religious wedding consists of a fee for issuing a marriage document plus an unspecified donation that will be paid to the parish.




A civil or legal ceremony must be performed by a celebrant who meets all the legal requirements set out by the national government. When it comes to venues, civil ceremonies are very flexible. It can be held in a city hall or anywhere outdoors (beach, garden…) . Every venue has different prices and conditions regarding a rental fee for the ceremony spot, while renting chairs, ceremony arch, and other decorations, also comes with additional costs.

There`s also a cost of translating your original documents to the Croatian language. It`s also important to remember that public spaces require a permit from local authorities. Compared to a religious ceremony, music choices are way more flexible. Civil ceremonies offer enough flexibility that you can add a personal touch like readings by your friends or family members. Since this is an official ceremony recognized by law, it has a standard text and form that lasts about 10min. But, as foreign citizens who are getting married in Croatia, it is obligated for a sworn interpreter to be present and that prolongs the ceremony for another 10min because the original text must be read in Croatian language and then translated. The paperwork required for a legal ceremony in Croatia will depend on your nationality and we highly recommend hiring an experienced wedding planner to help out in this matter. Most websites have incomplete information, so don`t rely on online sources.




A symbolic ceremony is not legally recognized, which means you`d still need to get officially married before or after this type of ceremony if you wish your marriage to be recognized by law. This ceremony is perfect if you wish to avoid all the hustle with paperwork and have a stress-free ceremony tailored to match your exact wishes. Only the sky is the limit when it comes to finding the perfect ceremony spot, choosing the wedding theme, creating song list and choosing of outfit.

This type of ceremony can be as long or as short as you wish. The symbolic officiant doesn`t have an official text or structure to follow but will help you finalize the ceremony text and choose appropriate songs or readings. If you wish to have it completely relaxed and don`t mind guests knowing it is not “a real wedding ceremony” you can also have one of your dear friends perform it. So, if you are comfortable with a non-legal ceremony, your venue options are wide open.


Still not convinced which ceremony type is the right fit for you? Have some other questions about the pros and cons?

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