What you need to know to get married in the UK

Just got engaged, calling all your friends and family to let them know your news as you excitedly start planning your day? Now before you get too carried way losing yourself on Pinterest in divine dresses and fabulous flowers, don’t forget the most important bit, making it legal!

In the UK you basically have two options for becoming legally wed, you can have a religious or civil ceremony.

To help you decide what’s right for you and what you’ll need to consider, here’s a summary of the essentials you need to know to get married in the UK

Choosing between a religious or civil ceremony

A religious wedding will have the ceremony solemnised by authorised officials, including a minister or priest, for example at a place of worship. A civil ceremony will be conducted by a registrar at a register office or a licensed venue.

In both cases, you’ll have to find a registered building. For religious weddings a Church, Mosque, Temple, etc. or for a civil ceremony a registry office or a venue that has been approved for civil marriages. According to UK law, this is somewhere that is a permanently roofed building, free of any religious connotations, safe and have adequate car parking.

If you prefer something more personalised for your ceremony, you can always choose an independent wedding celebrant. It basically gives you the chance to design your own ceremony, hold it where you want, with your own vows. You need to be legally married beforehand but you’ll be free to put some religious text in your ceremony if you want, include symbolic acts such as hand-fasting, hold it indoors or outdoors, or whatever you wish… Read more about having a celebrant here.

This can be a great solution if you want a compromise between a civil and religious ceremony, as you can pick and choose the aspects that mean the most to you both.

Giving notice at your local register office

The second thing you’ll need to do is to give notice at your local register office. This should be at least 28 full days before the civil marriage or civil partnership and you should take a document proving your name, age and nationality when you do so.

Same-sex couples can legally marry in a civil ceremony, however, if you want a religious ceremony, it is dependent on that particular religious organisation’s policy.

And if you’re a UK citizen overseas that wants to get married in the UK, you still have to give notice proving that you have lived at least 7 days in the same area as you plan to hold your civil ceremony.

If your partner is a foreign national from outside the EEA, or living outside of the UK, they will need to apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa.

The most important thing is to do your homework before you get swept away with table plans and flowers, and you won’t need to worry about forgetting anything important.

As a London based wedding planner, I can help you with any aspect of planning, including reminding you to give that all-important notice at the register office! Send me a message weddings@alwaysandri.co.uk to see how I can help you in other areas of wedding planning today!

Image by Marianne Taylor

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