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Planning the party is the most fun and takes the most time, but don’t wait until the last moment to plan the ceremony. When you’re not stressing over floral arrangements or frosting flavors, take the time to schedule a time to sort out your ceremony. Here’s everything you need to know.

The first order of business is to decide is whether you want a religious or secular ceremony. There is no right or wrong answer, and one is not necessarily easier than the other. As with all the decisions you have to make when planning your wedding, this is your day and you should get married in an environment that suits you both.

If you and your fiancé are considering a religious ceremony, remember that some religious services require a specific location, like a church, temple, or mosque. However, some religious officiants will be glad to go to an untraditional location. Consult with the officiants you are considering before you make final decisions to avoid any uncomfortable situations. Also, remember that you may be required to be a member of a specific religious institution if you want to be married on their property.

A civil ceremony is one that is still legal, but the exact requirements you need to meet vary from state to state, and even from county to county. Having a civil ceremony means that you’re free to be more creative with the elements you want to add or remove, or to have a destination wedding or an elopement. That’s not to say that you couldn’t make a religious ceremony work for all of those, but it will be much simpler to create an untraditional wedding with a civil ceremony.

When it comes to who will be marrying you, you’ll need to check out the legal requirements for your area once again. If you have any questions, you can always contact the county clerk’s office in the city where you will be having the ceremony to find an officiant that will fit your needs. Keep in mind that if you want to be married by a close friend or family member, they’ll need to be ordained first. After you’ve found your officiant, follow up about paperwork, fees, or counseling that may be required before you can be considered legally married.

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