Comedian Eshetu Melese mentioned that there are numerous varieties and numerous types of wedding ceremonies throughout the world. Here are some fundamental groups. Civil marriages are unions solemnized by government representatives (such as a County Clerk or Justice of the Peace). Typically, they are succinct and by definition, not religious. You will obtain a civil ceremony if you are married at a County Clerk’s office.
When performing short weddings, I use a unique civil ceremony that I created while working as a deputy commissioner of civil marriage for the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office. On the marriage license, MTG clients have the option of listing either a Humanist Celebrant or a Nondenominational Minister title. A small or no guest list is used for an elopement wedding.
Elopement ceremonies are preferred by couples who like to exchange their vows alone with their partners, who want to have a stress-free and romantic private ceremony before their wedding, or who have reasons to keep their marriage hidden (e.g. violent ex-spouse, celebrity or whistleblower status). If a couple is eligible for a confidential marriage license, they can elope without witnesses and have it recognized as a valid marriage in California.
For a full legal marriage anywhere, MarriageToGo provides a Wedding Bundle that includes private marriage licensing and a civil ceremony. When a couple makes plans to get married but doesn’t tell their guests until the ceremony has started, it is known as an ambush elopement or wedding. This is a popular for Christmas weddings and festivities and can be a lot of fun. Contrast this with the so-called “surprise” wedding, in which one of the parties to the marriage “surprises” the other.
Technically and legally, this is problematic since, according to the law, both parties to the marriage must be aware of it and consent to it before the ceremony, swear out a marriage license, and present appropriate identification and paperwork. Additionally, compulsion renders a marriage illegal if a partner is forced to consent to a marriage ceremony without prior notification, even if the coercion is slight.