Here's what to expect from your ceremony when your big day arrives.

Before your ceremony

The registrar will arrive 30 minutes before your ceremony to speak to you both separately. This is to check that all your personal details are correct and to run through the details of the ceremony with you, so that you know exactly what to expect. This will include information such as the order of ceremony, if anyone will be given away, who stands where and who has the rings. You do not need to bring any identification documents with you as these were checked at your notice of marriage or civil partnership appointment.

During your ceremony

Your ceremony will start at your allocated time. Please be on time because if you arrive late it may not be possible to conduct your ceremony that day, as the registrars may have other ceremonies to attend. Your guests should arrive half an hour before the ceremony is due to start and will be shown to their seats in the ceremony room.

Please do not forget your witnesses. The registration service is not able to provide them for you. Your ceremony must be witnessed by two people over the age of 16, who can speak and understand English and are fully aware of the nature and meaning of the ceremony. 

For a marriage, you do not need to learn or remember anything, as everything is said in small bite-sized chunks and repeated after the Registrar. Please do not be offended if you are asked to repeat anything, everything must be said correctly to ensure that you are legally married; and if you forgot what was said, or get the words mixed up, your registrar will just ask you to repeat it.

For a civil partnership, you may either read aloud the legal wording or just read the legal wording without speaking them.

Marriage schedules, documents and certificates

You no longer sign a marriage register or are given a marriage certificate during your ceremony, following a change in the law. Instead you will sign a marriage schedule (or marriage document if marrying in a church) and your marriage certificate is sent out to you afterwards.

The marriage schedule is a one-page document which contains the details of both people getting married which are needed to register a marriage. This applies to all marriages - both civil and religious marriages.

If you gave notice at a register office, the marriage schedule will be provided by the Superintendent Registrar in the registration district of your marriage. This will contain all the details required to complete a marriage registration.

If you did not give notice at the registration office, it will be the vicar who provides the marriage document.

In addition to father’s details, you will be able to record other details such as mother or step-parent.

Ceremonies at our venues and approved marriage and civil partnership venues

  • couples will sign a marriage schedule, which is an A4 document
  • couples have the option to include up to 4 parents in the schedule which will then be included on their marriage certificate, such as mother, father, stepmother or stepfather, adoptive parents and parents (including a second female parent)
  • couples will not receive marriage certificates on the day of the marriage, this will be processed once the marriage is registered. The marriage details will be entered onto the electronic registration register, within 7 days of the marriage taking place
  • the certificate(s) will be processed once registered at the register office and posted to couples. The cost of one copy of the marriage certificate is included in the ceremony fee you pay

Marriages in religious buildings (not Church of England)

  • couples will sign a marriage schedule, which is an A4 document
  • couples have the option to include up to 4 parents in the schedule which will then be included on their marriage certificate, such as mother, father, stepmother or stepfather, adoptive parents and parents (including a second female parent)
  • couples need to return the signed schedule to the register office in the district where the marriage took place within 21 days. They will then be given details to apply online for the number of marriage certificates they require. The marriage details will be entered onto the electronic registration register within 7 days of the signed marriage schedule being received at the register office, in the area where the marriage took place
  • once the marriage is registered, the certificate(s) will be processed on receipt of the online application and the required payment and posted within the specified timescales of the registration service

Church of England marriages

  • couples will sign a marriage schedule, which is an A4 document
  • couples have the option to include up to 4 parents in the schedule which will then be included on their marriage certificate, such as mother, father, stepmother or stepfather, adoptive parents and parents (including a second female parent)
  • the vicar who married you can return the signed marriage document to the register office in the district where the marriage took place within 21 days. This task can be passed to another person but please make sure someone is returning it. The marriage details will be entered onto the electronic register within 7 days of the signed marriage schedule being received at the register office in the area where the marriage took place
  • once the marriage is registered, the certificate(s) will be processed on receipt of the online application and the required payment and posted within the specified timescales of the Registration Service.

After your ceremony

After the ceremony, you will be invited to join the registrar for the signing of the schedule. You will both be asked to check all your personal details carefully and then sign along with your witnesses and the registrars. Please take a few minutes to check the information to ensure it is correct.

You and your partner will then make your exit out of the ceremony room to your chosen music and begin life together! 

The registrar in attendance at your ceremony will take your completed schedule on to the registration office for you. After being entered in to the national system, we will post your certificate to your home address within seven days.

Please do not forget that our friendly staff are here to help. We are always happy to answer any questions and support you through the entire process.

Frequently asked questions

No. You must return the signed original paper copy.

If it is a civil marriage at one of our offices or a venue such as a hotel, the registrar will take the signed schedule to the registration office.

If it is a church ceremony, and a registrar attends the ceremony, the registrar will take the signed marriage document to the office.

If it is a church ceremony and no registrar attends, it is the responsibility of the vicar/priest to return the schedule, but this may be delegated to another person e.g. the couple. In this case, please ensure you know who is undertaking this task.

The vicar/priest has 21 days to return the marriage document to us. Only after the return can we issue the formal marriage certificate, which is usually done within seven days of receipt of the documents from the church.

If you are returning a marriage document, you do not need to make an appointment to bring the marriage document. Please either post the document to us or drop it through the letterbox. It is not permissible to email a copy, the original signed copy must be returned.

If you marry or enter a civil partnership in a civil ceremony, we will post on your certificate. The cost of one certificate is included in the fee you have paid.

If you are married in a church, and a registrar attended the ceremony, the registrar will take away the signed “marriage document” and a certificate will be posted on to you.  You should have paid for one certificate when you booked. If you did not pay for a certificate when you booked, then you will need to order and pay for a certificate online here.

If you are married in a church, and no registrar attended, then you will need to order and pay for the certificate. You should order and pay for a certificate online here.

See details of the registration fees here.

If you are applying for a marriage certificate for a recent ceremony at a church, then you must allow an additional 7 days for us to enter the details in the national system. This 7 day period starts on the day we receive the properly completed and signed schedule.