Making it legalDid you know that over two-thirds of couples in England and Wales now have civil ceremonies rather than religious marriages, according to the Office for National Statistics? Here are a few basic things to know about booking your civil wedding ceremony.
You need to book your registrar as soon as you confirm your date with your venue. Dates and time slots get booked up months in advance, so if you want an early afternoon spot for a Saturday wedding, don’t postpone booking your civil ceremony.
Call the council
And that’s not necessarily the council where you live, but where your venue is based. They’ll take a non-refundable fee to secure your date and time slot with the registrar. They’ll then charge you the remainder of your fee around three months before your ceremony date. Fees vary depending on your venue and your date, but can range from £100 to £1,000. This fee will also cover your marriage certificate.
A year before your date, you’ll need to go see your local council and give notice of your marriage. You need to provide passports and proof of address. A marriage authority is then issued to the council where your venue is based.
Once you’ve given notice, you’ll be sent a planning sheet for you to add those personal touches, like readings and rituals. By law, you won’t be able to include anything religious in your ceremony, including playing music with religious connotations or adding too many candles or flowers to the registrars’ table in case in looks too much like an alter. You are, however, allowed a separate religious blessing after the legal marriage is complete, but the registrars must not be present.
Prepare to be interviewed
Both the bride and groom will have a short 15-minute interview with the registrar immediately prior to the ceremony. The registrar will check you are happy with what’s about to unfold – rather than ask you if you have seven husbands, for example.
You’re all set for your civil ceremony! Good luck!