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  • Writer's picturePetite Weddings

Getting Married Legally in The UK

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

What do we need to do to get married legally in the UK?

The law governing weddings in the UK is currently under review by the government. They recognise that the current rules are complicated and outdated and the rules in England and Wales are different from those in Scotland. They have an objective to reduce the costs of weddings.

However, the law is not changing anytime soon. In this article we answer questions that we are asked on a regular basis in relation to a legal wedding ceremony, that we hope will help you understand the legal landscape against which your wedding ceremony will take place.

What are the requirements for a legal wedding ceremony in England and Wales?

You have a choice of locations for your legal wedding ceremony:

· a legal wedding ceremony must occur inside a building or “cemented fixture” that holds a wedding license and is therefore classes as an “approved premises”. You can view the small "approved premised venue partners we work with here

· a religious ceremony in a registered religious building is possible, but do check your choice of venue holds a wedding license, if not, you’ll need to have a civil ceremony first

· at any local authority ceremony room or registry office in the UK

Getting married in a registry office might seem unromantic. More positively it’s a cost effective option than an “approved premise”. Many couples choose to get the legalities completes and then have a more personal ceremony in a location of their choice.

Who can conduct our legal wedding ceremony?

Your legal wedding ceremony must be conducted by a superintendent registrar or if you choose a religious ceremony a registrar must be available to register the marriage.

Who do we need to have as a minimum at our legal wedding ceremony?

For a legal wedding ceremony aside from the two of you (obviously!), you’ll need two witnesses over the age of 16, a registrar and, if different, the person who conducted the ceremony. All of our venue partners can provide witnesses for your legal wedding ceremony.

What do we need to do before our wedding day?

You need to reserve your wedding ceremony venue and book the registrar of religious officiant to conduct your legal wedding ceremony. Once you have a time agreed with your officiant you will be in a position you pay deposits to your chosen wedding venue.

On top of this, for a non-religious ceremony you must both go to your local register office to “give notice” of where and when you are to be married. You do not need to go together, but you must both attend. In fact, if you do go together you will be seen separately. You’ll need to produce documents to prove your name, address, date of birth, proof that any previous marriages have been dissolved and your nationality.

Your notice of marriage is posted for 29 days giving anyone who objects to the marriage time to register this. As I said earlier, the rules are very archaic! Your notice is valid for 12 months.

A final word

Wherever you are planning to hold your wedding ceremony, it is essential to consider the legal requirements so that you can work with these and plan your perfect day. We recommend you check any uncertainties with your local registry office to avoid disappointment.

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