Find the Perfect Wedding Ceremony for You

It finally happened-you're engaged. While you bask in the afterglow of the dreamy proposal and the unfamiliar feeling of the shiny new ring on your hand, you're probably already thinking about the next step: the wedding. First things first, you'll need to choose which type of wedding you want to have. While that may seem obvious, it matters-the kind of wedding you pickВ determines many of your later decisions. Unless you are committed to a traditional religious ceremony, you have a range of options for how and where you will tie the knot. Now all you'll need to do is find the perfect wedding ceremony for you.

01 of 12

Traditional Religious Wedding Ceremony

sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images

A traditional religious marriage ceremonyВ takes place in a house of worship where at least one person of the couple getting married is typically a member of the congregation. The reception usually occurs immediately after the exchanging of vows, either in the church's banquet room or at a separate location. Couples who choose the religious route must still obtain a civil marriage license from their local courthouse or county clerk's office for the union to have legal standing.

02 of 12

Civil Ceremony Wedding

AВ civil ceremonyВ wedding is typically held in a courthouse, city hall or judges' chambers and is officiated by a Justice of the Peace, a judge or a mayor. The secular ceremony is brief, with simple vows and just a handful of guests. A simple or elaborate reception can follow the ceremony; it's up to the couple's wishes.

03 of 12

Formal Wedding

Holding tightly to age-old traditions, a formal wedding typically includesВ an elaborately decorated ceremony and reception, numerous attendants and ushers, engraved stationery, an assigned seating chart, and dozens of etiquette rules. An expensive event, this type of wedding can have any number of guests.

04 of 12

Informal Wedding

Couples who choose to have an informal wedding have the freedom to customize every aspect of their marriage ceremony and wedding reception. They usually hold on to several important traditions, create a mash-up of both traditions or come up with something completely new and often has a more intimate feel.

05 of 12

Destination Wedding

Usually held in an exotic location, destination weddings are growing in popularity. Since a destination event requires travel, the wedding festivities are intimate, with typically fewer than 20 people. Couples often aim for an all-inclusive package that enables them to combine the marriage ceremony with the honeymoon. Clever, right?

06 of 12

Cruise Wedding

Cruise marriage ceremonies are destination weddings that take the all-inclusive idea to new levels. The ceremony is officiated by the ship's captain or a clergy member at port, and onboard wedding planners and event coordinators help customize every last detail of the intimate event. Many cruise ships provide ways to televise the big event to those at home who could not attend.

07 of 12


Although most couples fantasize about eloping at least once during the wedding planning process, very few actually choose the easier and less expensive route. In Las Vegas, the most famous U.S. destination for elopements, couples are married in quick, quirky ceremonies and often celebrate the night out on the town. But eloping doesn't have to be this way. Planned elopements to destinations special to the bride and groom can make the wedding a little less quirky and a little more authentic to who the couple is.

08 of 12

Group Wedding

Also known as a mass marriage ceremony, the group wedding involves numerous couples who legally tie the knot at the same time. Typically hosted by wedding venues and cities, group weddings are an attractive option for couples on a budget who want to celebrate their love in a very public way. Often in group weddings,В the venue also serves as the reception site where newlyweds receive an individual cake and champagne toast.

09 of 12

Double Wedding

Normally consisting of best friends or siblings, a double wedding includes two couples participating in simultaneous marriage ceremonies. Each couple participates in their own set of wedding vows, while the other couple generally serves as attendants.

10 of 12

Military Wedding

Formal and steeped in tradition, a military wedding involves full dress uniform for enlisted personnel. The couple has their choice of marrying in a chapel on base in addition to venue locations civilians seek out. RitualsВ between the U.S. Armed Forces branches vary, but some incorporate the stunning salute of the Saber Arch that newlyweds pass under.

11 of 12

Proxy Wedding

While rare, a proxy wedding takes place when the bride or groom cannot actually attend the ceremony, usually due to serving overseas in the military.В States that allow proxy marriages include California, Colorado, Texas, and Montana, although the laws vary.

12 of 12

Same-Sex Wedding

Same-sex weddings are usually intimate, personalized gatherings in which marriage vows can be exchanged in a civil or religious ceremony. If the couple does not belong to a church that affirms gay and lesbian marriages, a ceremony often takes place in a rented venue or a location special to the couple.