Getting a Marriage Licence

If you're getting married in the UK you’ll need a marriage licence, regardless of whether or not you want a religious wedding or a civil ceremony.

With a religious wedding in a church or other religious venue, the person officiating the wedding i.e. the priest, minister etc. will arrange the relevant paperwork, so you shouldn’t have to contact your local registry office (normally located in your local council buildings).

If you’re having a civil ceremony you will have to do a little bit of work yourself. But don’t worry, there isn’t that much to it and it’s quite straight forward.

Your first step is to call your local council, ask for the births, deaths and marriages department or just explain that you are trying to organise a wedding licence and they’ll put your through to the right department.

You’ll have to make an appointment to go down to speak to the Registrar who will ask you a few simple questions and ask to see identification etc.

They won’t give you the marriage licence there and then as it is a legal requirement to display notice of your proposed wedding for 15 days during the 12 month period before your wedding and this must be displayed in the same council area in which you’re going to get married. After this notice period the registrar can approve your marriage to go ahead.

When getting a marriage licence what will you be asked?

You will be asked for your name, address, occupation, age, current marital status, nationality and the venue where you intend to get married. They will also ask for similar details for your parents. You will be required to produce documentation to prove your credentials. We were asked to bring in the following:

  1. A current UK driving licence, passport or (full) birth certificate in order to prove our nationality, ages and names.
  2. A current UK driving licence or a utility bill for your current address (which can’t be any older than 3 months old). These were used to prove our address.

If however you don’t have any of these items you should speak to your local registry office and they will be able to advise you of other documents they can accept.

If you want to have your ceremony in a building other than your local registry office or a government office you can use a council approved local building in your area. Most areas will have lots of approved hotels and stately homes etc. An approved venue means your local registry office has approved its use for civil ceremonies, and therefore you can have a legally binding marriage ceremony or civil partnership in their building.

When you're looking at venues, the person showing you around should be able to advise you if they're approved. Alternatively you could contact your local registry office and ask for a list of approved venues in your local area. Once you have provisionally booked your date with the venue you should check with the local registrar to confirm that they are free to perform the ceremony on that date. An additional fee will normally be payable to have the Registrar attend an approved venue.

Marriage licence costs:

Depending on whether you’re getting married in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland the prices will vary slightly but I have provided a rough guide to the prices below:

  • Giving notice prior to marriage – from £20 each to £35 each.
  • Register your marriage – from £33 to £165
  • Marriage certificate – from £4 to £14

So that’s all there is to getting your marriage licence. It’s a lot more straightforward than you may think, should you need help at any point your local Registrar will be happy to help.

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