How do we organize the legal requirements for a civil wedding?

Written by    Last updated: March 5, 2009

In order to book a civil wedding, you must first give notice of your intention to marry at your local register office, (or offices if you live in different areas), at least 15 days before the wedding.

If you plan to marry in a different area, you should also contact the register office for the district in which the marriage is due to take place.

You will also need to pay a small fee and show the superintendent registrar documentary evidence of your:

  • name (take your birth certificate along)
  • age (the minimum legal age for getting married in England and Wales is 16 years of age but written consent may be required for anyone under 18 years)
  • nationality (ideally in the form of your passport)
  • evidence of your address (shown on your driving licence or a utility bill)
  • evidence of the ending of any previous marriage or civil partnership

You will also need to check whether you are subject to immigration control, as you will need to produce documentary evidence to the superintendent registrar to confirm that you satisfy the eligibility requirements.

Your Notice of Marriage will then be displayed on the notice board at the register office for 15 days, in case anyone knows of any legal objection why you shouldn’t be married.

Following this period, you will be legally able to hold your civil ceremony within 12 months.

You will also need to make sure that a superintendant registrar (to conduct the service) and a registrar of marriages (to record the details in the marriage register and issue your certificate) will be free to attend your chosen venue on the day.

The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the date you want. Registrars are busy people and they attend both register offices and civil venues.

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