Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Registry Office wedding ceremonies really are a popular way to get married these days......
Getting married in a Registry Office can be just as magical and romantic as a church or a big swanky hotel. These are also great if you're getting married abroad, and you need to be legally married here first.
Once upon a time, Registry Office weddings were considered to be for 'quickie' weddings only, but not now. Sometimes the environment is just lovely. It's not just the local town hall, these buildings are usually old and still maintain a lot of great, original character.
Town Halls may look a little cruddy on the outside sometimes, but on the inside they can literally take your breath away. The polished oak panels, the ornate and grand staircases, the marble floors. There's no telling what's behind these doors! Everyone loves a grand staircase for their wedding photos right?
How to Plan a UK Registry Office Wedding Ceremony
Do some research and choose your preferred Registry Office.
You both have to give notice of marriage to their local Registry Office. They will then connect with your preferred Registry Office.
You'll be given an authority for the marriage by your local Registry Office; and this will allow you to get married at any Registry Office. Yayy!
Your chosen Registry Office will need at least 28 days notice from you to get married there. Once you give notice, you'll have 12 months within which to actually get married. So make sure you get your date booked in plenty of time - you're at the mercy of your Registrar's availability!
You'll need to contact your preferred Registry Office, who may wish to interview you. Check with them what documents you need to present.
During the notice period, public notices are published of your intention to marry and anyone with legitimate reasons as to why you should not marry can formally object to the wedding taking place.
What if I'm not from the UK and I want to get Married in a UK Registry Office?
If you and/or your intended don't yet live here (or Switzerland or the EEA) and want to get married here, a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa will need to be applied for.
What Proof of ID do I need for a Registry Office Wedding?
It's always best to check before visiting a Registry Office exactly what proof of ID they want from you; some offices differ. However, they will almost certainly want to see original documents so make sure you have everything you can lay your hands on ready, e.g. passport, birth certificate, adoption certificate, relevant ID documents if you're from outside the UK, decree absolute and previous proof of marriage if you've been married before, death certificate if your previous spouse has passed. Everything you can lay your hands on by way of a certificate pertaining to a life event (birth/death/marriage/divorce), collect these up!
You'll also be called upon to submit original documents when you send off your application forms. Please please please make sure you keep copies of these, and use a good secure postal service. Just in case....
How Much does a Registry Office Wedding Cost?
Basic Registry Office fees are not normally expensive - under £200. Your fees will be for
cost of application and notice
the hire of the ceremony room
your marriage certificate
These costs will go up if you require a larger more prestigious ceremony room, if you change your application, if other documents (eg. previous marriage/divorce documents from outside the UK) have to be verified and approved.
How Long is a Registry Office Wedding Ceremony?
Whilst the initial process may be long-winded, the ceremony itself is only about 15-20 minutes. Allow for half hour in your planning, when thinking about your photography and celebrations afterwards.
I hope these nuggets of information help you along your way.