Planning your ceremony

 Before having your marriage or civil partnership ceremony, there are several important things you need to do.

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1. Choose a ceremony venue

You may have a civil marriage or civil partnership ceremony in any register office or at any approved venue of your choice in England or Wales.

If you decide to have your ceremony in Westminster, there are a number of venues for you to choose from, including:

•    the elegant and newly refurbished Old Marylebone Town Hall
•    the intimate rooms of the historic Mayfair Library
•    over 150 other stunning ceremony venues within Westminster

 

2. Book registrars

A civil marriage or a civil partnership is a non-religious ceremony performed by two registrars.

If you book your ceremony at Mayfair Library or the Old Marylebone Town Hall, the attendance of the registrars will be booked for you.

If you choose to book your ceremony at one of the other approved venues in Westminster, you will need to pay a fee for the registrars' attendance which is separate from the venue hire fee. 

If you require a registrar to attend a ceremony at a religious buildings, you will be charged the statutory fee of £90.00 plus a £75.00 booking fee.  

Check availability, view fees and book your ceremony

We recommend that you book early to ensure that registrars are available on your chosen date.

 

3. Give notice of intention

Before getting married or forming a civil partnership, you must both give notice of intention at a register office, usually in the district in which you live.

Westminster Register Office is classed as a designated register office which means that we are also able to take notices of intention for certain non-EEA nationals who live outside of the City of Westminster.

Giving notice involves attending an appointment at a register office where you will declare who you intend to marry or form a civil partnership with, where the ceremony will take place and that you are legally free to get married or form a civil partnership.

This is a legal requirement which must be completed at least 29 days prior to the ceremony. In certain cases, depending on your immigration status, this may be extended to 71 days. Therefore, we advise that whenever possible you give notice at least three-six months prior to your ceremony.

View the full guide for giving notice of intention.

4. Civil ceremonies

Civil ceremonies

Westminster offers a choice of 3 ceremony scripts, which you can view by going to our ceremonies website.

Once you have decided on a script, email us with your choice and we will update your booking along with information about any readings you may be having as part of your ceremony.

If you would like to change or edit the scripts (whether it's a word or an entire paragraph) we are happy for you to do so. But you need to send the amended script back to us for via email to registeroffice@westminster.gov.uk no later than 2 weeks before the ceremony for our consideration. 

The words highlighted in bold within each of the ceremony scripts are legal contractual words which must be spoken during your marriage ceremony and cannot be removed or altered.  

It is important not to include anything of a religious nature or any religious connotations. For example, there cannot be any readings from any religious text or any hymns played during the ceremony. The words, "…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part" are from the Church of England Book of Common Prayer, so therefore cannot be included in a civil ceremony as they stand.

Readings

You are welcome to add short, non-religious readings into your ceremony. Again, please ensure you do not incorporate anything of a religious nature or any religious connotations. All our ceremony scripts indicate where you may wish you consider placing the readings. 

Personal vows

You are welcome to exchange short, non-religious personal vows during your ceremony. We usually suggest that this takes place prior to the exchange of rings, but we are happy to consider other suggestions that you may have. 

Music

You are welcome to have non-religious music during your ceremony, either live or recorded. Music is usually played whilst guests wait for the ceremony to begin, for the start of the ceremony, for the signing of the register and for the close of ceremony.

 

 

5. Religious ceremonies

Religious weddings

A religious wedding can take place at a church, chapel or other registered religious building.

Most religious venues have an authorised person to perform the ceremony, however some do not so please check this with the venue. If they do not have an authorised person, you will need to book a registrar to attend.

The cost of the registrars attendance is £165 including the non-refundable booking fee of £75. The cost of the ceremony, place of worship hire, marriage certificate and any other legal or religious requirements are not included. Please contact the religious venue directly for information on their fees.

If you are planning on marrying within the Church of England and one or both of you are from outside the European Economic Area, you will both need to give notice of intention at a register office. Please confirm with the church that you meet their requirements before giving notice. In some circumstances, we will require a letter of consent and clarification from the church to be brought with you to your notice appointment.

Those wishing to have a Jewish ceremony are also required to give notice of intention.

If you are planning on marrying in a place of worship that is not a synagogue or part of the Church of England, please make initial enquiries with that religious venue.

6. Statutory ceremonies

Statutory wedding or civil partnership

This is a brief, basic ceremony held in an administrative office at the Westminster Register Office on Harrow Road. There is limited weekday availability and no availability at weekends.

This ceremony cannot be personalised or enhanced with things such as music or readings. Only 2 guests are permitted and they will need to act as witnesses. Both witnesses should be over the age of sixteen and able to speak or understand English. 

This ceremony costs £50 which includes registrar’s attendance and 1 certificate only.

7. Ordering extra marriage certificates

Prior to your ceremony

Extra certificates can be ordered prior to the ceremony date or after the ceremony date. However, please note that extra certificates cannot be ordered on the day of the ceremony. Certificates ordered before the ceremony date are £4.00 each. 

To make an online payment for extra certificates, you will need to have already booked your ceremony and know your booking reference number.

On the ordering page, you will need to select account group: "Miscellaneous" and account type: "Marriage/Civil Partnership - Certificates" from the drop down list, after which you will be prompted to enter your booking reference and the number of certificates you require. 

After your ceremony

If your ceremony has already taken please, you can also order copies of your certificate online. However, you are advised to read the information on how to Order a Copy Certificate beforehand as it is a different process. Certificates ordered after the ceremony date are £10.00 and may include the cost of postage, depending on whether you choose to collect the certificates in person or not. 

8. Ceremony booking terms and conditions

Your ceremony booking is accepted under the below terms and conditions and on the agreement that you accept the cancellation and amendment fees below.

  1. No legal impediment to the marriage or civil partnership exists and Legal Preliminaries are completed within statutory time limits.
  2. Any foreign divorce/dissolution papers are accepted by the Registrar General where applicable.
  3. The balance of ceremony fees is payable either at the time of booking or four months prior to the date of the ceremony, whichever is the nearer date to the day of the ceremony.
  4. All required documentation is presented to Westminster Register Office prior to the ceremony date. Where either or both parties to a marriage ceremony have conducted their legal preliminaries outside of the Westminster Registration District, it is the responsibility of the parties to ensure that Westminster Registration Service has the required Authorities for Marriage in advance of the ceremony.
  5. The ceremony is of a dignified nature, to reflect the occasion, and legally compliant.  Westminster Registration Office has the final decision on any wording and the content of the ceremony from start to finish.
  6. You provide two witnesses who are over the age of 16 and fluent in English to witness the marriage/civil partnership. Please note Westminster Registration Service staff cannot act as witnesses.
  7. Both parties will be available to meet with the Registrars at the ceremony venue no later than 15 minutes before the ceremony start time. In the event of late arrival and if your ceremony is likely to start later than 10 minutes after the allocated start time, your ceremony will be subject to rescheduling to a different time in order to accommodate our commitments with other ceremonies.
  8. If you hold a non UK passport and you are entering the UK to have a marriage or civil partnership ceremony the onus is on you to ensure you are entering the country on the correct visa. Visit GOV.UK for more information.
  9. Please note:  It is an offence under sec.25(1) of the Immigration Act 1971 to enter into a marriage to help facilitate a stay in the United Kingdom. If a ceremony does not go ahead due to the UK Border Agency intervening, no refund is applicable.

If you do not comply with the above conditions, we do have the right to remove your booking from our diary and you will be subject to the cancellation fees below.

Cancellation and amendment conditions and fees

  More than four months before the ceremony Less than four months, but more than one month before the ceremony Less than one month before the ceremony
Cancelling Ceremony The customer may apply for a refund of the ceremony fee (if paid), minus the current non refundable booking fee (£75).   The customer may apply for a refund of the ceremony fee, minus £120. If the ceremony is cancelled within 1 month of the date of the ceremony, no refund is applicable.
Amending date/time of ceremony An amendment fee of £25 is charged for each date and/or time change that is made to the original booking. An amendment fee of £120 is charged for each date and/or time change that is made to the original booking. If the date and/or time of the ceremony is changed less than one month before the ceremony, no fees will be transferred to the new date.

To cancel a ceremony

We ask that all requests to cancel a ceremony are placed in writing, preferably by emailing registeroffice@westminster.gov.uk. You will need to include the full details of the ceremony booking (booking reference number, date, time, venue and your full names).

To apply for a refund

Before requesting a refund, please confirm using the table above that you qualify to do so. Please also note the applicable fee to be refunded. All refunds must be applied for before the ceremony date. Refund requests received after the ceremony date cannot be considered.

All refunds must be applied for in writing via email to registeroffice@westminster.gov.uk

You will need to include the full details of the ceremony booking (the booking reference number, date, time, venue and your full names), the method and date of payment and the authorisation code which can be found on your payment receipt.


Last updated: 17 August 2018
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