Getting married in England.

Laetitia Perrot Bridal PortraitToday's Bride is well catered for when it comes to choices in beautiful England, with ancient churches, splendid stately home, traditional or ultra modern hotels, registry offices or even unusual places  some years again where just not available

A civil ceremony can take place at a register office or other premises approved by the local authority for marriages (for example, hotel, stately home and a religious ceremony can take at a Church or Chapel of the Church of England s or at any other place of worship which has been formally registered by the Register General for marriages.

Civil Ceremonies

If you decide that you would like to be married by civil ceremony that is at a register office or other building approved for civil marriage you should first of all contact the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. You may marry at any register office or approved premises of your choice in England. Though, for a marriage in approved premises, you will also need to make arrangements at the venue in that you have chosen. It is well worth remembering that the most popular days of the week especially Saturdays can get booked up for months in advance, so plan ahead. In addition you will need to give a formal notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar of the district or districts where you live.

Marc Byran Portraiture Churches in England

If you wish to be married in the Church of England generally you will be able to do so only if you or your partner live in the parish, you should first speak to the Vicar. If he or she is able to marry you they will arrange for the Banns to be called on three Sundays before the day of your ceremony or for a common licence to be issued. The Vicar will also register the marriage and there is generally no need to involve the local superintendent registrar, though it is best to check well in advance.

Other Places of Religious Worship

If you wish to marry by religious ceremony other than in the Church of England you should first arrange to see the Minister or other person in charge of marriages at the place of worship. However, the church or religious building in question must normally be in the registration district where you or your partner live.

It will also be necessary to give formal notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar of the district districts where you live. A registrar may also need to be booked if the Minister is not an approved registrar.

Legal Formalities

Robert Sillitoe WeddingsUnless you are marrying in the Church of England by Banns or Common Licence you and - or your  partner must attend personally at the register office for the district or districts where you live and give a notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar.

The 'Notice of marriage' can be given in one of two ways:
By Certificate

You and your partner must have lived in a registration district in England for at least seven days immediately before giving notice at the register office. If you both live in the same district you only need to give one notice. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice in your own district. After giving notice you must wait a further twenty-one days before the marriage can take place.

By Licence

To marry by this means, which is often known as a 'special licence' and is generally a little more expensive, either you or your partner must have lived in a registration district in England for at least fifteen days before giving notice at the register office. Your partner only needs to be resident of, or be physically in England or Wales on the day notice is given. After notice is given the marriage can take place after one clear day - excluding a Sunday, Christmas Day or Good Friday.

Stephen Pugh WeddingTime Frame

A notice of matrimony is valid for three months only. Therefore you may not give notice of marriage to the superintendent registrar more than three months before the date of your marriage. However, it should be possible for you to make an advance (provisional) booking with the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry up to twelve months before the ceremony. The earlier you arrange to book the marriage the more likely it is that you will get the date and time of your choice. The superintendent registrar will be able to give you more accurate information in this respect.

You will need to take along certain documents with you

When you attend your appointment with the superintendent registrar or Vicar to make the formal arrangements you will need to produce certain documents, for example, if you have been married before a decree absolute of divorce bearing the court's original stamp, or if your husband or wife died a certificate of their death.

It would also be very useful if you brought along your birth certificates or passports along with you, photocopies are not acceptable. Other documents may also be needed depending on the circumstances, for example, the consent of parents to a marriage where one of the couple is under the age of 18.

Please note: If you are not able to provide any of the above documents the superintendent registrar will explain what other documents may be acceptable, though will cause you probable delays, so plan ahead.

Do be aware that your marriage cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed in full. You or your partner must give notice of marriage in person to the superintendent registrar and under no circumstances can anyone else act upon your behalf.

Simon Green Bridal PortraitThere are on a national scale set fees for giving notice to the superintendent registrar and for the registrar's attendance at a marriage at a register office or religious building. However, the fee for the attendance of the superintendent registrar and registrar at a marriage in a permitted premises (for example, at a hotel or stately home) is set by the local authority. The superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry will be able to give you details of the fees payable.

Where an advance booking for a marriage has been made it is essential that a formal notice is given to the superintendent registrar once it is within three months of marriage.

On your wedding day, you will need to have available at least two other people who are prepared to witness the marriage and sign the marriage register.

If you wish to know more about marriage ceremonies at register offices or at approved premises please ask the superintendent registrar for details. While a ceremony of marriage in the presence of a superintendent registrar cannot, by law, contain any religious aspects, it may be possible with the agreement of the registration officers attending the ceremony, for you to include non-religious music and/or poetry readings and for the wedding to be photographed and or videoed.

Stephen Pugh Bridal PortraiturePlease note: This guide is issued for general guidance and is not a complete statement of the law. For further information on any aspect of the formalities to, or the ceremony of marriage, please seek the advice of the superintendent registrar at the local register office. His/her telephone number and address can be found in your local telephone directory under 'Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages'.

And finally

Giving yourselves plenty of time will allow you to get organised and when the day arrives, all you have to do is enjoy yourselves. Remember that the day is best captured on camera by an experienced wedding photographer, who is a member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers

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