FAQ: What do we have to do to be 'legally' married if we have a celebrant led wedding ceremony?
Updated: May 1
The Process of a Civil Marriage and
a Celebrant Wedding Ceremony
This is a frequently asked question, by many couples, when making their initial inquiry. So here are some guidelines on the process and costs.
In regards to outlining the process and difference between a ‘legal marriage’ and a ‘wedding ceremony’. The ‘marriage’
is the statutory signing of the civil register and legal words, with a registrar or priest (In England/Wales). The ‘wedding’ is the celebration of your marriage with your family and friends. These do not necessarily have to occur on the same day.
There are three stages:
1) The 'Notice of the Intention to Marry'
For all 'civil' ceremonies (Registrar led or Celebrant led) you need to contact the civil registry office, where you 'RESIDE' (for the last 7 days at least). If you live in different areas, then you will need to register in your own county area. You need to ask for a 'Notice of Intention to marry'. This costs approx £35 each person. You make a prearranged appointment. During this appointment you will have to provide two pieces of evidence, of your names and where you live, such as a passport/driving licence/utility bill etc. You will have 20-30 mins meeting with the registrar. During this meeting they will separate you and ask you questions about each other. Once this is completed your 'notice of intention to marry' will be published at the office. On the 29th day onward you are legally allowed to marry, but you have one year to do it. If the 'legal statutory signing' does not occur within the one year deadline, then this process has to be started again.
2) The 'Statutory Signing' Part
This can be arranged at any registry office, where you reside, or if you have moved. It takes place in the registry office, making sure you state, when booking, you only want to have the 'Statutory Signing' and not a civil registry ceremony. Otherwise they will book the larger room and charge you a lot more e.g. £140. With the 'Statutory Signing' event you will have a small room, with a table and chairs. Only the COUPLE and two WITNESSES are allowed to be present. You will both sign the legal register, The Registrar utters the 49 legal words to say you are legally married. You may wish to exchange rings or may wait until your wedding ceremony. You can wear you everyday clothes and save your wedding outfits for the wedding ceremony with your guests. You will need to purchase the marriage certificate, £11 each. I recommend two copies are purchased, as you may have to send one copy away to various organisations, if changing names on documents e.g. to the bank, passport office, mortgage company etc. They, generally, only accept originals and not photocopies.
3) The 'Wedding Ceremony'
This is the actual 'wedding day'. When you celebrate your love and commitment, together with your guests, with a bespoke Celebrant led ceremony. Having your ceremony where, when and how you want. This may include outside, a beach, a forest, a marquee, a tipi, a garden or a barn. Anywhere that doesn’t have to have a marriage license. Or indeed, anywhere that does e.g. a hotel or castle. A celebrant can officiate a ceremony anywhere, in anyway you wish, at at anytime you prefer, with any elements, rituals or symbolsim included. You may include a theme or have your pets involved too.
So the costs, for example:
Notice of Intention to Marry = £35 each
Statutory Signing = £46
Two copies of the wedding certificate = £22
Celebrant led wedding ceremony = From £395
Approx total cost = £533
You have up to one year to complete stage 1 and 2 before your ceremony, if you prefer to be 'legally married' beforehand. Or, anytime after, if you prefer to continue with the wedding ceremony and then organise the legal part afterwards, if the registry offices are not able to confirm a date beforehand, in this present climate.
Here is the link to R-C-T, South Wales, U.K. registry office payments/costs (try your local one if you are not in R-C-T, they each have their own website):
If you need any more assistance, please get in touch. I know this can be a stressful time, particularly with the uncertainty at the moment. Once your date and everything is secured then the rest will fall into place.
"Your Day, Your Ceremony, Your Way".