What is a civil ceremony?
A civil wedding ceremony is a marriage without any religious context. In England and Wales, it can take place at a register office or a venue that has been approved for civil marriage.
As A Cumbria and Lake District wedding photographer I have witnessed many Civil Wedding Ceremonies.
Who can get married?
To legally get married or form a civil partnership in the UK, you must be 16 or over, free to marry or form a civil partnership (single, divorced or widowed), and not closely related. If you are under 18 you will need permission from your parents or guardians in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Only same sex couples can form a civil partnership.
How do I find an approved civil venue?
As well as registry offices, approved premises include some stately homes, hotels, restaurants and even zoos! To find a location, contact your local council or search on the marriage and civil partnership page of the Direct.gov website.
What do I need to do for A Civil Wedding Ceremony
Once you decide to get married, you need to give notice of marriage at your local register office. This needs to be done at least 28 full days before your wedding day. You can only give notice at the registry office if you have lived in the registration district for the past 7 days and your notice will be publicly displayed there for 28 days.
If you plan to marry in a different area, you should also contact the register office in the district where you would like to marry.
What documents do I need to take with me to the register office? For A Civil Wedding Ceremony
When you go to the register office, you need to take proof of your name, age and nationality. This could be a valid passport, birth certificate, national identity card from the EEA or Switzerland (if non-British), certificate of registration, certificate of neutralisation, biometric residence card or permit or a travel document. If you’ve changed your name, you must also bring proof of that, for example a deed poll.
You will also need to bring proof of address, for example a valid UK or EEA driving licence, gas or electricity bill from the last 3 months, a bank statement from the last month, or a council tax bill or mortgage settlement from the last 12 months. It’s best to check with your local registry office what exactly they will require from you before you go – for example, some may specifically require a photographic form of ID.
If you’ve been divorced or widowed, you will need to bring the decree absolute or final order, or the death certificate of your former spouse.