Getting married in a civil ceremony

A civil marriage ceremony can be conducted by a registrar or deputy registrar for the district in which it is to take place, or a Humanist celebrant.

Making arrangements

Before you can give notice of your marriage you must decide when and where you want the ceremony to take place.

Registrar

If you choose a registrar to conduct your ceremony, remember to make early arrangements with them.

This is important as certain times of the year are very popular and your choice of approved venue may have limited availability.

Humanist

If you have chosen a Humanist celebrant, they must fill out a celebrant application form and be approved to conduct your ceremony before completing your marriage notice forms.

  • Celebrant application form

Humanist celebrants operate independently and are not employees of a district council. Remember to make early arrangements with them.

All weddings

You should also arrange for two people, aged 16 or over, to be at your wedding to act as witnesses. This is needed for both religious and civil ceremonies.

You should let the registrar know if you change your plans or decide to postpone your marriage.

Choosing a venue

A civil ceremony can be held in the registrar's office or in an approved place.

You can also apply for a temporary approval for a civil ceremony at a place of your own choice, such as your own home.

You should contact the registrar of the council district in which the ceremony will be registered and they will advise you about the fee and how to apply.

Fees

Registrar

If you are marrying in a civil ceremony conducted by a registrar you can expect to pay the following:

  • a fee for giving notice
  • a fee for solemnisation of the marriage
  • a fee for use of the council office/ room or for the registrar to attend an approved venue

These fees are payable when you submit your notice application.

The fee for giving notice is £22.00 per notice form. You will need a separate form for each person.

The registrar’s fee for the solemnisation of the marriage will depend on when the marriage is due to take place (see table).

Time cost
Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm £36.00
Monday to Friday, 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm £162.00
Saturday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm  £162.00
Saturday after 5.00 pm, Sunday and bank holidays £216.00

If you choose to marry at a registrar’s office you will pay a fee, depending on when the marriage is due to take place and the marriage room you choose.

If you choose to marry at an approved venue, you will need to pay a fee for the registrar to attend.

You’ll need to speak to the relevant council to find out details of the above fees. The solemnisation fee is usually included in the amount charged.

Humanist

If you are marrying in a civil ceremony conducted by a Humanist celebrant you will pay the £22.00 fee each for giving notice. You will need a separate notice form for each person.

The celebrant will charge for planning and conducting the wedding ceremony.

Giving notice

You can find out more about giving notice, including how and when to submit your marriage notice application form, at this link:

When the registrar is content that there is no reason why the marriage can’t take place, a marriage schedule will be prepared from the information you have given in the marriage notice form.

No marriage can go ahead without a marriage schedule.

Marriage schedule - registrar

The registrar will make sure that the marriage schedule is available at the marriage ceremony for signature.

The marriage ceremony may only be conducted by a registrar or deputy registrar who has been authorised by the Registrar General.

While nothing of a religious nature may be included in the ceremony, music, poetry, exchange of rings and flower arrangements may be included and should be discussed with the registrar.

It's important that the marriage ceremony should start on time, as more than one marriage may be planned on that day.

The groom, best man (and ushers, if needed) should arrive at the venue for the marriage at least 20 minutes before the ceremony. The bride and bridesmaids should arrive at least 10 minutes before.

The registrar will welcome everyone before the bride enters and give instructions about video recording and photography during the ceremony. The ceremony will last for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Marriage schedule – Humanist

The marriage schedule will be issued to either the future bride or groom by the registrar.

The schedule can’t be issued more than 14 days before the marriage and the registrar will advise you when the marriage schedule can be collected.

The schedule cannot be collected on your behalf by a relative or friend - the registrar will issue it only to the future bride or bridegroom, who will have to sign for it.

The marriage schedule must be produced before the marriage ceremony to the person performing the marriage.

Immediately after the ceremony, the schedule must be signed by the bride and groom, the person performing the marriage and the two witnesses. The bride should sign in her maiden name.

Registering your marriage

Registrar

If a registrar conducted the ceremony, they will provide a marriage certificate and register the marriage after the ceremony.

Humanist

If a Humanist celebrant conducted the ceremony, you will not get your marriage certificate immediately after the ceremony. 

A marriage certificate may be ordered after the schedule has been returned to the registrar and the marriage registered.

You can find out how to order a marriage certificate at this link:

Share this page

Feedback

Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback