Marriages and civil partnerships in England and Wales

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Plan your ceremony

You must decide where to have your marriage or civil partnership ceremony before ‘giving notice’.

To give notice, you’ll sign a legal statement at your local register office saying you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. This must include details of the final venue for your ceremony.

You must hold your ceremony within 12 months of ‘giving notice’.

Choose the type of ceremony

You can choose to have either a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony if you’re getting married.

If you’re forming a civil partnership you cannot have a religious ceremony.

Religious ceremonies

A religious wedding can take place at any registered religious building.

Same-sex couples can get married in a religious building if it has been registered for the marriage of same-sex couples. You cannot get married in an Anglican church as a same-sex couple.

An authorised person, such as a religious minister, must attend the ceremony and sign the ‘marriage schedule’ or ‘marriage document’.

Check with the venue if there is an authorised person. If not, you’ll need to book a registrar. This costs £86.

Civil ceremonies

You can have a civil ceremony at:

You must have at least 2 witnesses at the ceremony.

A registrar must carry out, or be present at, your ceremony. You can book a registrar yourself or the venue may do this for you.

The cost of a registrar is:

  • £46 at a register office
  • £86 at a registered religious building

Costs may be different at other approved premises.

What can happen at the ceremony

You must exchange vows if you’re getting married. Discuss any other wording you want with the person carrying out the ceremony.

You do not need to exchange vows for a civil partnership, but you can if you’d like to.

Civil ceremonies can include readings, songs or music, but must not include anything that’s religious (for example hymns or readings from the Bible or the Torah). You can get a religious blessing of your marriage after a civil ceremony.

If you’re getting married, you and your partner sign the marriage schedule or marriage document at the ceremony. You can each include up to 4 parents on the form (for example mothers, fathers or step-parents).

After a marriage ceremony

Your signed marriage schedule or document is sent to your local register office where it’s added to the marriage register. After that, you can get your marriage certificate.

Contact your local register office to find out how to get your marriage certificate and how long it will take.