Guide: Plan a marriage

Part 4 The ceremony

There is no need for you to be nervous or worried about the ceremony. Remember that the Superintendent Registrar is there to help and guide you through all you are required to say and do.

Once your guests are seated the Superintendent Registrar will say a few words of welcome and explanation and then lead you through the ceremony and your legal declarations.

Some of the content of a ceremony and the declarations and contractual words are prescribed by law and you will repeat these words after the Superintendent Registrar. As well as the legal declarations, a ceremony will contain other wording and will be adapted and personalised using the information you have provided on the ceremony preference form (see below, approved venues only). Please remember any additions to a ceremony may not contain any religious connections. Facilities for the playing of music should be checked with the venue management.

If you are having your ceremony in a registration office you can bring along your music on the day on a CD or iPod (with speakers). If you are bringing an iPod or other such device you will need to allocate a guest to operate it during the ceremony.

Should you have any difficulties with speech or language, please let us know in advance.

Ceremony preference forms

Once you have settled your final balance you will be able to complete a ceremony preference form. Completion of this form will enable you to personalise your ceremony to make it even more special. Please do so no later than 2 weeks before your ceremony.

Please do not complete this ceremony preference form if you are getting married in:

Jury Room, A la Ronde Room, Clinton Room, Exmouth Town Hall, Mid Devon Registration Office, Hayridge Centre, South Hams Registration Office, Cary & Repton Room, Quay House, Dartmouth Guildhall, Flavel Centre, Watermark Centre, Devon Register Office (Newton Abbot), Torridge Registration Office, Taw Room, West Devon Registration, Tavistock Council Chamber, Okehampton Town Hall and Tavistock Town Hall.

Please also be aware that none of the following vows from the Book of Common Prayer are permitted at a Civil Ceremony by law (in any order):

I, N, take you, N, to be my Husband/Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow.

The legal vows that need to be said at a civil ceremony – by law – are listed below for your information. You will only have to repeat them in short sentences, when prompted, by the registrar conducting your ceremony.

Declaration: (for information only)

I do solemnly declare/that I know not/of any lawful impediment/why I ………………. /may not be joined in matrimony/to ……………….

Vows: (for information only)

I call upon these persons here present/ to witness that I …………… do take thee ……………… / to be my lawful wedded wife/ husband.

The basic format of a ceremony:

(text in bold indicates legal requirements to ensure validity of your marriage)

Welcome Guests to venue and introduction

Grand entrance

Declarations that you are free to marry

Opportunities for readings

Contracting words

Opportunity for any legal objection to your marriage to be stated

Legal definition of marriage

Opportunities for readings

The exchange of ring(s) and vows

Opportunities for readings

Announcement that you are married!

Signing of the register by the married couple, witnesses and registrars. Witnesses can be any guest who has stayed throughout the ceremony and who understands the proceedings. (No photos allowed during the signing, for legal reasons)

Photo opportunity with blank register

Presentation of marriage certificate

Grand exit

See our Marriage and Civil Partnership ceremonies frequently asked questions for more information >