Civil weddings Q&A

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

A list of commonly asked questions about having a civil wedding ceremony.

We answer the important questions about tying the knot in a civil wedding ceremony

Q: We’re not sure where to hold our civil ceremony ‐ what choices do we have?

A: A non‐religious civil wedding gives you lots of freedom, particularly when it comes to choosing where to hold the ceremony. While it can’t be held in a place of religious worship, the only other stipulation in England and Wales is that it is held at an approved civil venue licensed to hold weddings under the Marriage Act. Here is a list of alternatives for you…

A register office

A register office makes a low cost venue for your civil ceremony, but take a look at the premises first, as governmental offices can be quite stark and your ceremony can feel less ‘special’ than other options.

An approved venue

You can choose one of the thousands of approved (licensed) buildings in England and Wales, such as stately homes or castles which essentially offer the same ceremony as in a register office, but set in more interesting surroundings. In the confetti venue channel, we have over 2000 civil venues listed, including contact details, photos, sample menus, costs, facilities and contact details. Search our directory of venues or take a look at our venue channel for some great ideas.

An unusual licensed building

Do your research and you’ll find that there are many unusual venues licensed to hold civil ceremonies too, such as golf clubs, museums or zoos. Choosing somewhere quirky can have the added advantage of additional interest for guests and can help make your day even more personal as it can reflect your favourite hobbies or sport. (Just make sure you are BOTH keen on the venue and you won’t regret agreeing to walk out past the monkey enclosure in your gown!) Take a look at our guide to special interest wedding venues.


You could always choose to hold your civil ceremony abroad, (let’s face it, English weather can be a tad unpredictable!), and wedding packages offered by tour operators can make this an inexpensive option. Check out our guide to getting married abroad or visit your local travel agent to find out more.

Q: Where can we hold a civil ceremony in Scotland?

A: Wherever you live, you may marry in a civil ceremony in Scotland by submitting notice forms to the registrar up to three months and not less than 15 days prior to the day. In Scotland, civil or religious ceremonies can take place wherever a minister or registrar agrees to hold them. Visit gro‐ for more details.

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