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Legal Formalities For Marriage

Legal Formalities For Marriage

& Wedding Planning Advice

All the legal formalities for Marriage including costs, documents required, notice to be given and much more. For more wedding entertainment planning tips and inspiration, check out or 'Ultimate Guide to Wedding Entertainment' here.

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?

A notice of marriage is valid for twelve months, or 3 months in Scotland. However, you may be able to make an advance (provisional) booking with the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. The superintendent registrar will be able to give you more precise information on this.

Documents you may need to produce

When you attend before the superintendent registrar or Vicar to make the formal arrangements, you will need to produce certain documents. You will need produce evidence of your name, age, marital status and nationality.

A current full passport would be the preferred document, (or, where appropriate, a Home Office Travel Document, A Standard Acknowledgement letter or a national identity card). If this is not available, two documents, such as a cheque book, cheque guarantee card, store/credit card or a birth certificate issued at or near the time of the registration of your birth would be acceptable.

If you have been married before, you will need to produce documents to confirm that you are now free to marry. These could include either a divorce decree absolute bearing the court's original stamp, or the death certificate of your former husband or wife.

Depending on your individual circumstances, other documents may be required, but your local superintendent registrar will be able to advise you. You should be aware that photocopies are unlikely to be accepted.

Cost of getting married in England and Wales

Marriage at the register office

By superintendent registrar's certificates £94.00

This includes the fee of £34.00 for the registrar's attendance on the day of the wedding.

Marriage on approved premises

By superintendent registrar's certificates £60.00

In addition to the above, a fee will also be payable for the superintendent registrar's and registrar's attendance at the marriage which is set locally by the responsible local authority. A further charge is likely to be made by the owners of the building for the use of the premises.

Marriage in the Church of England or Church in Wales

Information about fees payable may be obtained from the Vicar of the Church in which you wish to marry.

Marriage in a religious building (other than in the Church of England or Church in Wales)

By superintendent registrar's certificates £60.00

In addition to the above, a fee of £40.00 will also be payable for the registrar's attendance at the marriage unless an "Authorised Person" appointed by the trustees of the building has agreed to register the marriage. Additional fees may also be charged by the trustees of the building for the wedding, and by the person who performs the ceremony.

Marriage certificate

A fee of £3.50 is payable to a registrar for a marriage certificate on the day of the marriage.

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