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Time and place of marriage

Marriages at a register office, approved venue, at home, place of worship or prison, if you or your partner are housebound or terminally ill and ceremony brochures. 

What happens if I want my marriage to take place at a register office?

It is advisable to first make a provisional booking with the registrars in the district in which you want to get married within England or Wales. You then need to give notice of your intention to get married in the district/s where you live.
If you live in different districts notice of marriage must be given in both districts, unless one of you is a foreign national without the right of abode in this country in which case notice must be given at a designated register office. There is a minimum of 28 clear days waiting period, from the date of the second notice being given, before the marriage can take place and a document from both districts must be presented to the office where you are getting married, before to the marriage. The marriage must take place within 12 months of giving the first notice. A provisional booking for your marriage may be made more than 12 months in advance.

What happens if I want my marriage to take place at an approved venue?

Local authorities are able to licence other places for civil marriages as long as they 
are suitable. These places are called approved venues. This means it is possible for civil weddings to take place in hotels, stately homes and other historic buildings as long as the venue has been licensed. A full list of all approved venues in England and Wales can be obtained from the general register office on payment of a fee.

Couples can be married in any approved venue in any district in England and Wales. Notice of marriage still has to be given in the district or districts in which the couple lives. The marriage authorities have to be presented to the register office in which the approved venue is located before the marriage can take place. A provisional booking should always be made with the local register office as soon as possible. The marriage must take place within 12 months of the first notice being given. 
 
It is important to remember that marriage in an approved venue only exists for civil 
marriage and does not apply to any type of religious ceremony. Most of our council ceremony rooms have access to our web cameras facility, whereby friends and relatives who cannot be present on your big day can view the ceremony via the internet. You can even send your greetings by email. Please ensure that your message arrives in good time and supply details of names of couple and time of marriage, in order that we may deliver your message as soon as possible.

If you wish you may hold a celebratory ceremony after the legal registration has taken place at a private venue that has some special meaning to you such as your own home.

The following pdf document gives advice on ceremonies in private venues.

Ceremonies in private venues leaflet (pdf 526kb opens in new window)

Can I get married at home?

You could carry out the very basic legalities of marriage during a very informal short appointment at the register office with just 2 witnesses present and then follow on with a bespoke celebratory ceremony at your home or in your garden later in the day or even the day after. The celebratory ceremony would give you the opportunity to exchange personal vows, exchange rings, incorporate poetry or readings and conclude with the presentation of your legal certificate.

Persons of the Jewish religion are able to marry in a private house, hotel or even outside in a garden as long as the marriage is to be conducted according to Jewish religious rites and both parties are of the Jewish faith. Notice of marriage must be given by both parties in their district/s of residence and the marriage can take place a minimum of 28 clear days from the date of giving the later notice. The marriage must take place within 12 months of giving the first notice.

What if I or my partner are housebound or terminally ill?

A person who is housebound is able to marry in their own home or in a hospital. A doctor must be prepared to sign a statement that the person is not able to be moved to a place registered for marriage and that is likely to be the case for the next three months. This statement form can be obtained from your local registration office and must be signed not more than 14 days before giving the notice. Notice of marriage must be given in the district/s of residence of both parties. In the case of the housebound person the notice will have to be taken at home. This will attract an additional statutory fee on top of the usual notice fee. The marriage can take place a minimum of 28 days from the date of the giving the last notice. The marriage must take place within three months of giving the first notice.

The marriage of a terminally ill person can be arranged to take place very quickly at a persons home or in a hospital at any time day or night, providing that the legal preliminaries have been carried our beforehand. Only one notice of marriage is required which would be given by the well party, a statement has to be issued by the medical practitioner in attendance confirming that the terminally ill person is not expected to recover and cannot be moved to a place of marriage. Once the general register office have approved the issue of a special registrar general's licence the marriage may take place at any time within the following month. There is no statutory waiting period for the issue of the licence.

What happens if my marriage is to take place in a place of worship?

Before arranging a religious marriage, you will need to have talked to the authorities at your place of worship.
If you intend to marry in the Church of England it is unlikely that you need the information on this page and we suggest that you telephone the Church of England faculty office on 020 7222 5381.
In most other instances you will need to give notice of your intention to get married. This happens in the register office in the district where you live unless one of you are a foreign national without right of abode. Each party to the marriage must give their own notice.
If you live in different districts, notice of marriage must be given in both districts of residence, unless one of you is a foreign national without right of abode. There is a minimum of 28 clear days waiting period, from the date of the second notice being given, before the marriage can take place and a document from both districts must be presented to the person performing the ceremony, prior to the marriage. The marriage must take place within one year of giving the first notice.
You may be required to have a registrar present to register your marriage. It is vitally important that the attendance of a registrar is established and confirmed as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. The religious authorities should give all these details to you.
If you are in any doubt, please contact your nearest registration office:

Find your nearest registration office.

Can my marriage take place at a prison?

A marriage can take place in a prison as long as the prison authorities agree that the marriage can be performed there. This agreement must be in the form of a statement, in the prescribed form that must be signed by the prison governor not more than 21 days before giving the notice of marriage. A notice must be given by the person in prison to the local registrar. The registrar will be required to visit the prison in order to take the notice and this visit will attract an additional statutory fee.

The other party to the marriage will also have to give a notice to the registrar of the district in which they live. The marriage, which can be civil or religious, can take place 28 clear days after the giving of the later notice. The marriage must take place within three months of giving the first notice.

Do you have any ceremony brochures?

Yes, we have a celebratory guide. The following pdf brochure is available to help you plan a day to remember:

Celebration guide (pdf 5mb opens in new window)

Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2017