The Legalities of Eloping in UK

As we have said before elopements are crazily romantic and gorgeous, but they do come with realities that you need to think about and plan accordingly. This blog is aimed to help you navigate the legalities of eloping in the UK.

Some aspects of this will change depending on whether you're getting married and having your intimate wedding in Scotland or Northern Ireland. So do check out the laws carefully for your country of choice.

Some things can get complicated like if you do not live in England or Wales, but you wish to marry here, check out for more help and if you want to get married in Cumbria or the Lake District (who wouldn't? it is stunning elopement destination!) then check out for places to elope.

Photo from Catherine & Rory’s 3805 Mile Elopement on Hadrians Wall

In England and Wales, you can elope in a religious or civil wedding ceremony. For a religious ceremony, you will need to contact the specific religious celebrant, IE: the vicar to see what is required at that particular parish.

For a civil ceremony elopement in England or Wales you will need:

  • To be 16 or older, if under 18 you will need permission from your parents or guardians.
  • Not already married or in a civil partnership.
  • Not to be closely related.
  • And finally to be a British citizen. Have indefinite leave to remain. Or have a valid permit/ Visa to marry if you're a foreign national.

As said before, the rules in Scotland Or Northern Ireland are slightly different, so please do use the links above to find out more information about the elopement legalities for your intimate wedding day.

Sadly a spur of the moment urge to run away to get married in the UK isn't entirely as accurate as we would like. Paperwork and legal celebrants who will legally marry you need to plan not only the schedule to make your elopement wedding but also they need to sort out all the legal paperwork that goes with it. 

Bride and groom with umbrellas on a Lake District Elopement in Cumbria in the rain by Joshua Wyborn

Photo from Rhi & Jack’s Lake District Elopement

In the UK you must 'give notice' to marry at your local registry office at least 29 days before you wish to have your wedding ceremony. Once you have given your notice to get married, you must have your elopement within 12 months. As I say, in theory, you can get married in 30 days from giving your notice, which is a perfect whirlwind of time to plan your adventure of an elopement should you wish to do so, so quickly.

To give notice, you'll typically need to:

  • Pay a fee, usually £35 per person
  • Make an appointment at a local register office (and have lived in that registration district for the past seven days)
  • Have the details of the final venue of your ceremony
  • Bring a valid passport, UK birth certificate or national identity card from the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
  • Provide proof of your address and of any name changes
  • If you've been married or in a civil partnership before, bring your decree absolute or former partner's death certificate.

You can give notice outside the UK to marry in the UK if the country is part of the British Subjects Facilities Act (find a full list of countries here) and your partner is a UK citizen.

Want to get married abroad?

Mountains and traditional buildings seen from the edge of a yacht sailing on lake garda in italy by Joshua Wyborn

Photo from Daniel & Carolanne's Destination Wedding at Malcesine Castle wedding on Lake Garda Italy

An elopement wedding abroad will be subject to the laws of that country. Check out this web page to find out precisely what documents you'll need, any legal and residency requirements, and if the marriage will be permitted under UK law. 

Be aware that certain countries, like Mexico, and some US states even require blood tests.

Couple Elope in Lake District wedding ceremony at the Cragwood Country House Hotel

Photo from Sarah & David’s Just Us Wedding At The Cragwood Country House Hotel

Fancy taking me with you?

I love Elopements, whether it is in the romantic Lake District, Scotland or anywhere in the world! If you like my photography and would like me to document your elopement and create some stunning portraits of your adventure. Then I would love for you to contact me!

It's always worth a lookout at various venues as some will have elopement wedding packages specifically made for your elopement, or winter elopement packages.

Some places to elope in the Lake District:

Cote How

Lake Side Hotel

Cragwood Country House Hotel

Merewood Country House Hotel

Briery wood Country House Hotel


Hidden River Cabins

Glenridding House

Storrs Hall

Langdale Chase


Armathwaite Hall

Holbeck Ghyll

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