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Legal Formalities For Marriage

Unless you are marrying in the Church of England or Church in Wales by Banns or Common Licence, notice of marriage has to be given personally to your local superintendent registrar(s) at the Register Office in the district in which you and your partner reside. A notice of marriage states the names of the parties to the marriage, age, marital status, address, occupation nationality and the intended venue for the marriage. It is a legal document covered by the Perjury Act 1911.

Both of you must have lived in a registration district in England or Wales for at least seven days immediately before giving notice at the register office. If you both live in the same district, you should both attend your local register office together to give your notices of marriage. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice separately in your respective district. After giving notice you must wait a further 28 days before the marriage can take place, (for example, if notice is given on 1 July the marriage may take place on or after 29 July).

Your marriage cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed.

Notices of marriage must be given in person to the superintendent registrar by you and your partner. No one else can do so on your behalf.

Where an advance booking for a marriage has been made, it is essential that a formal notice is given to the superintendent registrar, once you are legally able to do so.

Registration Officers have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been arranged for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.

There are nationally set fees for giving notice to the superintendent registrar and the registrar's attendance at the marriage at a register office or religious building. However, the fee for the attendance of the superintendent registrar and registrar at a marriage in an approved premises (for example, at a hotel) is set by the local authority. The superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry will be able to provide you with details of the fees payable.

On the day of the wedding you will need to bring with you 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 marriage ceremony in the presence of a superintendent registrar cannot, by law, contain any religious aspects, it may be possible, with agreement, to include non-religious music and/or readings and for the wedding to be videoed.

This information 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. The telephone number and address can be found in your local telephone directory under 'Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages'.

How far in advance may I make a booking?

Documents you may need to produce

Cost of getting married in England and Wales