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Civil weddings & registrars - what to expect

Civil weddings & registrars - what to expect

Anyone wishing to get married in England or Wales and have a non-religious i.e. civil ceremony, will need to register their intent to marry at each person's local resistry office.

You can't register any more than a year in advance of your wedding date, but it is advisable to do so as soon after this date as possible because there are only so many registrars per borough and you can't afford for them to be booked up. You must allow 22 days before your wedding day though.

First you need to find details of your local registry office.


Organising the Registrar

Give them a call and you'll then have to provide details about yourself and fiance/ee as well as those concerning the venue or location. The registrars' office will then send out a booking form stating what formal documentation you need to provide when you come to provide 'notice of marriage'.

You need to arrange a date to come in and see the registrar of the borough that each of you live - you both still need to go if you live in the same one. The fee is £30 each (usually paid by cheque).

The Documents
You will need to produce some or all of the following documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Decree Absolute (if divorced)
  • Translation of divorce papers
  • Proof of address e.g. gas bill
  • Dead poll/change of name
  • Parental, court or guardian permission (if aged 16 to 18)
  • You also need to declare your nationality - in case any further documents need to be considered to enable you to be recognised as 'married' in your home country.

    You also have to answer some questions about your partner without them speaking and vice-versa - it is usually only job title and their full names.

    The notice is then completed by a registrar whilst you are there and you sign it, witnessed by the registrar who then also signs it. This now goes on display for 15 days within the registrar office. Authority for your marriage will then be issued and you are able to get married between 16 days and a year from the day you give your Notice.

    21 days after giving your notice, you must collect your 'Certificate on No Impediment' - a legal document allowing the wedding to go ahead.

    If you are a visitor and are planning to wed in England or Wales you need to be resident for 7 days and wait a further 15 days before you're eligable to marry. Visitors to Northern Ireland need to be resident for 7 days plus wait a further 21 days before you can marry. In scotland you only have to give 15 days advance notice.

    By licence - or 'special licence'
    Only takes 3 working days and is more expensive. You must have lived in a registration district for at least 15 days before giving notice. Your partner needs to be resident or present in England or Wales when the notice is given. The marriage can take place 1 day after notice (excluding Sunday, Christmas Day or Good Friday).

    Registry Office Weddings
    You book the date with the Registrar as soon as possible. It is possible to get married in a registrary office of your own choosing.

    For civil venue weddings
    Once you have chosen a licensed venue check the availablity of the Registrar at your local reigster office. Then you must book them both. If you book your venue more than 12 months from the wedding day you must wait until 12 months or less from the date to do this. Otherwise many venues won't take your booking if you haven't got a provisional booking with the local Registrar.

    Before The Cermony
    Depending on where you are getting married this may vary, but as a guide you will need to contact the Registrar around 6-7 weeks before your wedding day to arrange time for an interview. You will then meet up with the Registrar who will conduct your ceremony and have the opportunity to discuss arrangements for your big day. You will be expected to pay for the marriage certificate - £3.50 of which you can buy as many as you choose.

    It is usual to have some readings during the service, these must not contain any religious elements or connotations though and a copy of them and information on who is reading them must be given to the Registrar at this time. There are 'declaratory words' that must be included in the service, then you have the option to add in any extra vows or promises. The framework and content is therefore agreed plenty of time in advance with Registrar who will be performing your service. Most ceremonies will last 15 - 20 minutes and no longer than 30.

    On the day of the marriage it is normal for the bride and groom to be seen by the Registrar separately before the ceremony. Then it's time for the ceremony to begin - good luck!

    Page: 12

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