Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies – FAQs

Will the cost of my ceremony increase?

Fees are regularly reviewed and may increase on 1 April each year.

What time should I arrive for my ceremony?

Please make sure at least one of you is at the venue at least 30 minutes before the ceremony for an approved premise and 15 minutes before the ceremony for a Register & Additional Ceremony Room. The Registrar will need to speak to you privately to check the details to be entered in the marriage register.  At this time you will also both be asked to give your father’s full names and occupation. If you do not wish to see each other before the ceremony please stagger your arrival to allow the registrar to speak to you individually.

How much music should I have for each section on my ceremony preference form?

A few tracks for while the guests assemble. The Bride’s entrance would ordinarily be one track. The signing of the register will only take 2-3 minutes, but after the official signing there will be an opportunity for some photos with a blank register. We would recommend 2 or 3 tracks, so guests can take photographs at this point. The exit of bride and groom would only require one track. Please note that no religious connotations are allowed by law, so we are unable to permit hymns or Christmas carols. If you are unsure whether or not your music choice is permissible, please call us on 01392 384236 in order to discuss further.

How many readings are we allowed at our ceremony?

We normally request that you have no more than 3 readings throughout your ceremony. The Superintendent Registrar on the day will place these at points throughout your ceremony, but if you would like them in a certain order or for them to be inserted at a specific time during the ceremony, please make this clear when returning your preference form. Again, there can be no religious connotations whatsoever, so if you are unsure whether a chosen reading may be religious, please phone us on 01392 384236 to discuss further.

Do I need to bring witnesses?

Your civil ceremony must be witnessed by a minimum of two people who can understand English and who are fully aware of the nature and meaning of the ceremony. Conventionally, we ask that a witness should be over the age of 16. The registration service is not able to provide witnesses for you – they must be your witnesses and cannot be employees of the registration service.

Can we produce an Order of Ceremony?

You are more than welcome to produce an Order of Ceremony for your special day. A very basic template is shown below. This will give you both some idea of what to expect on the day itself.

(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

Can we have personal vows?

Again, you are more than welcome to write some personal vows to each other. You can either read these to each other from a card, request that the Superintendent Registrar break them up into short sentences so as you can repeat them when prompted or, if you’re really brave, you can try and memorise them off by heart. As a contingency it is a good idea to bring a written copy just in case nerves get the better of you. Please just make your preferred option clear when returning your preference form.

Are there certain things we are not allowed say within our personal vows?

Yes. We ask that you make no religious references or use any of the following as they are from the Book Of Common Prayer:

  • 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

Please choose alternative wording, should you opt for personal vows to each other.

Will we meet the Deputy Superintendent Registrar that will marry us?

Unfortunately, no. All of our rotas are subject to change right up to the date of ceremonies so we are unable to let you know which Deputy Superintendent Registrar (DSR) will be conducting your ceremony.  Although we all have to include the legal words in a ceremony, for the more informal parts each DSR has their own personalised version which they can adapt according to the information you give us when returning your preference form. There is also an option to have a face to face meeting with one of our registration staff across the County (a fee will be payable for this). In order to book an appointment, please phone us on 0345 155 1002. This may not be the member of staff attending your ceremony.

Will we get to see a copy of the Registrar’s ceremony wording ahead of the day itself?

Not normally, no. Each of our Deputy Superintendent Registrars are highly trained and use individually personalised ceremonies, so as they can feel at their most comfortable in performing them & delivering the best ceremony they possibly can for you. They will use your returned preference form in order to include all your ceremony requests within their ceremony template.

Can my guests take photos and record the ceremony?

You are very welcome to bring cameras to record the occasion but the Superintendent Registrar will direct when it is appropriate to take photos.
If you wish to make a video recording of your marriage, please let the Superintendent Registrar know before the ceremony so that the person filming can be directed to the most suitable position.

Do I need to bring ID on the day of my ceremony?

No, you have provided your ID when you entered your notice of marriage or civil partnership so you don’t need to bring any documents on the day. We don’t have to see ID from your witnesses either.