3 Different Types of Wedding in Hong Kong
There are 3 common types of wedding ceremony in Hong Kong, namely Official Marriage Registry Wedding, Civil Celebrant Wedding and Religious Wedding. Let’s go through each of them and see which one is the best fit for you.
An easy way to distinguish these kinds of wedding is that they have very different wedding venues. As its name suggests, an Official Marriage Registry wedding is held in the official marriage registry, while a Religious Wedding takes place in an authorized place of worship. The venue of a Civil Celebrant Wedding is more flexible, it can be in any place other than those of the other 2 kinds of wedding.
For foreigner couples living outside Hong Kong, our experience is that it is not quite possible to organize a Religious Wedding in Hong Kong. The arrangement of a Religious Wedding is extremely difficult because it has to obtain an approval from the church or mosque in advance. It may take several months and the wedding couple would have to meet the responsible minister for a couple of times in advance here in Hong Kong. It is not easy to make such arrangements for foreigner couples who are living abroad.
Our foreigner couples used to consider the options between Official Marriage Registry Wedding and Civil Celebrant Wedding. It will be important to know more about the difference between these options before learning further details of how to get married in Hong Kong.
How to choose between Official Marriage Registry Wedding and Civil Celebrant Wedding
Recently we have got many enquiries from the wedding couples about how to choose between an official marriage registry wedding and civil celebrant wedding in Hong Kong. Sure, they are both valid form of marriage in Hong Kong but they do have something different from each other. So have a look at their comparison before making your own choice:
Administration of Wedding Ceremony
For a marriage registry wedding, the wedding ceremony will be officiated by a deputy registrar of marriages appointed by the government. The registrar will guide the marrying couple to take the marriage vows and sign their marriage certificate.
A civil celebrant is a qualified solicitor or notary public in Hong Kong. If the wedding is celebrated by a civil celebrant, the celebrant will administer the wedding ceremony and direct the marrying parties to take the marriage vows and append their signatures on the certificate.
The layout of the marriage certificate will be the same for both choices. The marriage certificate will be authenticated by a deputy registrar of marriages in a marriage registry wedding while the civil celebrant will do so in a celebrant wedding. For registry wedding, the certificate will be embossed with an official seal of the marriage registry. The personal stamp of the civil celebrant will be used in a celebrant wedding.
Both kinds of the wedding are legal marriage in Hong Kong. They are recognized marriages under the Hong Kong law.
However, if it is required to certify your Hong Kong marriage certificate by apostille service, the marriage certificate signed by civil celebrant will not be accepted for such service. It is required to apply and obtain a certified true copy of the marriage certificate separately at the record office of the marriage registry. Additional application and certificate fees will be required.
Moreover, when the marriage is reported to foreign consulate office or other authorities, the marriage certificate signed by civil celebrant will not be accepted directly in some case. Again, in that case, it will be necessary to apply and obtain a separate certified true copy of marriage certificate authenticated by the record office of the marriage registry before the certificate can be accepted.
In a marriage registry wedding, the wedding ceremony will take place at the official marriage registry such as City Hall Marriage Registry or Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry. The wedding hours will range from 9 to 5 of the day. Both of the marriage registries are so popular in Hong Kong that they are designated the Grade I historical buildings by the Hong Kong government. It is just classic to register the wedding there.
There is no restriction on the time and place for a civil celebrant wedding. The wedding ceremony can be held at any hour and any place in Hong Kong as agreed by the celebrant. It can be a beach or tram wedding party with a civil celebrant!
The registration fees for an Official Marriage Registry wedding are standard rates provided by government. The fees will be higher for getting married during non-office hours (e.g. Saturday (pm), Sunday or public holiday) than wedding ceremony at normal office hours.
For civil celebrant wedding, it will largely depend on the charges offered by the civil celebrant. The fees will be different from each other. The charge of some reputable civil celebrant can be much higher than standard rates of the registry wedding.
There are both pros and cons for a classic registry wedding or civil celebrant. Marrying couples should choose the kind of wedding suitable for them according to their own preference and scenario. For example, if it is necessary to certify the marriage certificate or report the marriage to foreign authorities, it may be easier to go for marriage registry wedding. But if wedding flexibility is important, civil celebrant wedding would be a more suitable choice as there is no restriction to the time and place for registration.