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ways to get

ways to hold a marriage ceremony

There are two legal ways to hold a marriage ceremony:

  1. A Civil ceremony here in our Mortain Barn, which is conducted by a registrar with no religious content throughout.
  2. A Church ceremony, with religious content and hymns, usually held by the local parish vicar of the church.

how to


You can get married by a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony. In both cases, the following legal requirements must be met:

  • The marriage must be conducted by a person or in the presence of a person authorised to register marriages in the district
  • The marriage must be entered in the marriage register and signed by both parties, two witnesses, the person who conducted the ceremony and, if that person is not authorised to register marriages, the person who is registering the marriage.

civil marriage ceremonies


You and your partner must give notice of marriage in your local Register Office, whether or not you wish to marry in that district. The Superintendent Registrar, or Registrar in Northern Ireland, then issues authority for the marriage and you may marry in any Register Office or local authority approved premises in any district.

In England and Wales, 28 days notice must be given to the Register Office before the marriage can take place. Both partners must be resident for seven days in England or Wales before notice is given. A notice must state where the marriage is to take place. There is a fee for giving notice.

If one of the partners has been issued with a gender recognition certificate and was previously the civil partner of the person who they wish to marry, there is no requirement for the 28 day notice period. In this case, notice of the marriage and the marriage itself can happen on the same day.

If you or your partner are not citizens of an European Economic Area country, you’ll have to submit evidence of your immigration status when you give notice to marry.

In the period between the notice of intention to marry and the ceremony, anyone with strong grounds for objecting to the marriage can do so. Making a false statement is a criminal offence.

procedure for


You and your partner will be asked for certain information when giving notice of your intention to marry. Giving false information is a criminal offence. The information which may be required is:

  • Evidence of name and address
  • Evidence of date of birth
  • If one partner has been married before or in a civil partnership, documentary evidence that the marriage or civil partnership has ended, for example, a death certificate or decree absolute. Uncertified photocopies are not accepted. A certified copy of a decree absolute may be obtained from the court which decided the divorce. This can take about a week
  • Evidence of nationality.

A variety of documents can be used as evidence of the information required, but a passport, travel document or birth certificate is usually sufficient. You should contact the register office where you’re getting married for more specific advice on what they will accept.

People from overseas may be asked to show their passports. There is no legal requirement to show a passport before getting married and instead, they can produce a birth certificate (accompanied by a certified translation if necessary), an affidavit or other personal identity document.

If you are travelling to the UK to marry either a British citizen or an EEA national, you will need a visa. This is called entry clearance. This will be either a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa if you are not an EEA national or an EEA Family Permit if you are an EEA national.

People who wish to marry in the UK in a Register office in England and Wales must give notice at a Register Office. If you are subject to immigration control, you can only give notice at a Designated Register Office in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, notice may be given in person or by post. Everyone wishing to marry in a Register Office must provide proof of their nationality.

You are subject to immigration control if you are not:

  • A British citizen (or someone with right of abode in the UK) or
  • An EEA national or
  • Don’t have any conditions attached to your stay in the UK because you are for example, a diplomat, or a member of visiting armed forces.

For more information on coming to the UK to marry, go to the GOV.UK website at

If the registrar believes that a person is entering or has entered into a marriage for immigration purposes, the registrar has a duty to report this to the Home Office. The registrar must provide the Home Office with certain information, including the marital status and nationality of the person. The Home Office may wish to carry out investigations to ensure that the proposed marriage is not a ‘sham’. It may extend the notice period to 70 days in order to carry out these investigations.

If you don’t comply with the investigations you may not be allowed to marry. You also risk being prosecuted and, if you are the person subject to immigration control, you will gain no advantage from the marriage and could be removed from the UK.

The marriage ceremony in the local Register Office or local authority approved premises will take approximately 10-15 minutes. The Superintendent Registrar or Registrar in Northern Ireland will make a short statement about marriage; you can ask the registrar beforehand to indicate what form of words will be used. It is not possible to use religious words in the civil ceremony. However, the ceremony may include readings, songs or music that contain reference to a god as long as they are in an ‘essentially non-religious context’.

Each partner is required to repeat a standard set of promises. These may not be changed, but may be added to, as long as the additions are not religious. Rings are not required but can be exchanged if the couple wishes to.

After the ceremony, the marriage register is signed by both partners. Two witnesses, who must be over 16, must also sign at the time of the marriage. Witnesses must understand the language of the ceremony and have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the ceremony. Register Office staff are not allowed to act as witnesses.

Before signing the register, you should check the information in the entry is correct. It is possible to get incorrect information in the register on marriage certificates changed if there is proof that the errors were notified at the time of the marriage. When trying to correct information at a later stage, you will have to explain in writing how the incorrect information came to be recorded at the time of the marriage and may need to provide documentary evidence to prove any statements. The process may take a long time.

A fee must be paid for the ceremony. A certified copy of the entry in the register may be obtained at the time of the marriage for a fee. Additional copies may be obtained for a further fee.

For details of the fees, contact your local Register Office or in England and Wales, go to the GOV.UK website at or in Northern Ireland, go to the nidirect website at

religious marriage


The Church of England and the Church in Wales are allowed to register a marriage at the same time as performing the religious ceremony.

You won’t have to give notice of the marriage to the Register Office unless you or your partner are a non-EEA national. If this is the case, you will need to give 28 days notice to the Register Office.

For other religious marriages you’ll need to give 28 days notice of the marriage to the Register Office. Ministers and priests of all other religions can be authorised to register marriages and must have a certificate or licence to do so from the local Superintendent Registrar. For Jewish and Quaker marriages, the authorisation is automatic. For all other religions, if the official performing the ceremony is not authorised, either a Registrar must attend the religious ceremony or the partners will need to have separate religious and civil ceremonies.

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