Love + Marriage

The reception details take considerable focus, but the ceremony itself is the main event. Plan ahead to ensure your nuptials are both memorable and legally binding!  

The ceremony isn’t just a beautiful moment between two people in love; it’s a binding event in the eyes of both the local government and, depending on your personal preference, your house of worship, and there are several things you need to do before you say “I do.” Before you can walk down the aisle, you need to make sure you’ve filled out all the forms — dotting your “I”s and crossing your “T”s. 

Make It Official


Before your big day, you and your fiancé will need to apply in person for a marriage license. The main office of the Beaufort County Probate Court in Beaufort and the Hilton Head Island satellite office have different hours and appointment requirements, so make sure you check before you make the drive. There is a 24-hour waiting period after you submit your application before your license will be issued, so don’t wait until the last minute. For more on marriage license requirements in Beaufort County, go to


Of course, you’ll need more than a marriage license to make your union official. You’ll also need to make sure you have an officiant to perform the ceremony. Certain members of the clergy, chiefs or spiritual leaders of recognized Native American tribes, judges and notaries public are authorized to administer the oath and sign the marriage license; it’s up to you who you select. There is usually a fee for a registered officiant, but some clergy will perform the ceremony in return for a donation to the church. Expect to pay between $500 and $800.


Once you have your marriage license and your officiant, you’re ready to plan your ceremony. Let your officiant guide you in what a “traditional” service in that faith or style typically includes, but speak up if you want to add or amend things to make your ceremony uniquely yours.

A traditional service starts with the procession down the aisle, followed by the officiant’s opening remarks and any readings, the exchange of vows and rings, the marriage pronouncement, the kiss and the recessional. You can personalize your ceremony by selecting music and readings that have significance, or add elements like a sand-pouring ceremony or unity candle to symbolize your new union. And of course, don’t be afraid to write your own vows.


Vows That Wow

We’re all familiar with the traditional vows — for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Though the wording varies slightly from religion to religion, all include the same themes of love, bonding and faith to a higher being — though some couples today eliminate the “honor” and “obey” wording.

Marriage7 One way or another, however, traditional vows usually end with the officiant asking the couple if they will take each other as husband and wife, followed by a blessing over the newly married couple.

A handful of nontraditional wedding vows have become standard choices for couples who opt not to embrace traditional or personal vows. Regardless of which nontraditional vow is chosen, they all touch on common themes such as the constancy of love, celebration of life, trust, sharing of dreams and pledging faithfulness.

Personal wedding vows are just that: personal. Your love is personal, the relationships you both have with your family and friends are personal, and the hopes and dreams you share are personal. If you choose to write a personal vow, ask yourself what matters most to you both. Express it in words, but also think about and agree on what tone to use — funny, serious, a little of both? And when in doubt, keep it short.


After you and your fiancé have exchanged your vows and presented each other with rings, you’re ready to head back up the aisle and hit the reception as a married couple.