Deputy Superintendent Registrar, Louise Clover

Written by    Last updated: September 13, 2006

We’ve got in touch with the experts ‐ those people who conduct the marriage ceremony ‐ to ask all those wedding questions that you’ve always wanted to ask!

Is there such a thing as a "wandering registrar"?

Q: I’ve heard that there is such a thing as a wandering registrar for people who don’t want to get married at a registry office, but the place they want to get married doesn’t have a licence: is this true?

A: It is only possible to have a civil marriage in either a Register Office or an Approved Premise, as arranged with the relevant Registration District. A Registrar may sometimes attend a Church or Chapel which is registered for marriages which does not have it’s own marriage registers. It is not possible to have a Registrar attend anywhere else to conduct or register a marriage.

Civil readings

Q: I want to have a few readings in my ceremony. How many can I have and where is a good place to find some?

A: The number of readings you may add to your ceremony is dependent on the decision of the Superintendent Registrar conducting your marriage. From a purely personal point of view either 1 or 2 readings usually works best. A copy of the ceremony we use in Cambridge is available on our web site at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk and shows the most logical places to have a reading.

We are advised by the Registrar General that under no circumstances can any religious service, or any words or phrases with a religious connotation, be used during your civil wedding. The items you chose have to be approved by the Superintendent Registrar, usually no later than 1 month before the date of your wedding.

Examples of tracts, which are not appropriate, are extracts from the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Prophet and Howard’s End. Moreover the Registrar General considers that the omission or selective reference from any piece would not alter it’s religious character.

Having said all that it still leaves lots to choose from, anything from Shakespeare to Winnie the Pooh or W. H. Auden to Pam Ayres. 

Booking a civil wedding ceremony

Q: My husband‐to‐be and I live in Beckenham in the London Borough of Bromley. We are having a civil ceremony in Shirley Hills, which is just outside Croydon. Could you please tell me how we should go about booking the registrar for the wedding? We haven’t got a clue! We’re not sure how soon or late we can leave booking one.

A: If the venue is in Shirley (the Oaks Farm Barn?) then the provisional booking for Registrars to attend needs to be made with the Croydon Register Office (020 8760 5617). Most Offices allow provisional bookings up to one year in advance but it’s worth ringing them just to check. You will then have to make an appointment with your local Register Office to give Notice of Marriage, which you CAN NOT do more than a year before the date of your wedding.

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