Let's start at the basics because this is a big topic, and it's essentially all of the legal stuff that needs to happen before the wedding or civil partnership ceremony. Feel free to skip to the questions you need answering on the link below! If you have a question or think I've missed some info why not tell me in the comments!
- What is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?
- What is a civil ceremony and a civil partnership?
- What does giving "notice to marry" mean?
- How long do you have to give notice before you get married?
- Where To Give notice of marriage or civil partnership?
- How much does it cost to give notice?
- What gets asked at the notice of marriage?
- Who Needs to Give notice?
- Don't Live in the Area you wish to have your ceremony?
- Not a British citizen? Want to get married outside of England or Wales?
- Subject to Immigration Control?
- Can you cancel your notice to marry or form a civil partnership?
What is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?
You can find out more on my Civil Partnership Photography page. A marriage is formed by vows and typically has religious connotations. A civil partnership is created by signing a legal document to state that you are now a couple in the eyes of the law. So you may receive similar benefits to those who are married. E.g. Legal Rights, Tax, Pensions & Inheritance.
Marriages are ended by divorce, whereas civil partnerships are ended by dissolution, although it is fundamentally the same process.
What is a civil ceremony and a civil partnership?
Ok, this one is simple, but I see the terms getting mixed up all over the place as a simple tongue tie or just not thinking before typing...
Civil Ceremony - A marriage or civil partnership ceremony conducted by the registration service for England & Wales.
Civil Partnership - The new legal union of two people as a couple.
What does giving "notice to marry" mean?
Every couple must give notice. Giving notice is a legal declaration that you are both legally free to marry each other or to form a civil partnership.
Although you may have a civil ceremony (A ceremony conducted by the registration service and not by a religious group) anywhere in England or Wales, you must 'give notice' to your local Registration service.
'Giving Notice' will take approximately half an hour to complete. And is a small interview where you present documentation to the registration service to prove who you are and to make the legal plans for your wedding or civil partnership.
How long do you have to give notice before you get married?
Technically at least 28 days. However, it is recommended you allow a minimum of eight weeks for administrative purposes.
Whilst you can book your ceremony more than a year in advance, your legal notice of intent to marry or form a civil partnership can only be given within one year of your cermeony date.
Once the notice has been given, it will be publicly displayed at the Register Office for 28 days.
Where To Give notice of marriage or civil partnership?
You typically need to make an appointment to give notice at your local Registry Office (you can find your local register office on this link). You must have lived in that district for at least 7 days.
If you and your partner live in different registration districts you will need to give notice separately.
How much does it cost to give notice?
Giving notice costs £35.00 per notice form at Cumbria County Council, other costs have been stated online for other counties. Separate notice forms are needed for each person.
What gets asked at the notice of marriage?
When you attend your appointment, you and your partner must provide information, including proof of Identity, age, nationality and evidence that you are free to marry or form a civil partnership. You will also be asked some simple questions about each other separately.
Try not to stress too much; it's straightforward, and when you book an appointment, the registration officers will advise you of what you need to bring.
If either of you are under 18, the Registrar will give you forms that must be completed by a parent or legal guardian. If you are in any doubt about the paperwork required, please contact a member of your local registration team for further advice.
*Note from 26th Feb 2023 the law will change and the legal age for marriage or Civil partnership will increase to 18*
Who Needs to Give notice?
Both of you must give notice, which must be done in person at the appropriate Registration Office. In general, notice must be given in the district where you live.
If you both live in the same district, a joint appointment should be made with your local office. Live in separate districts but are still within England or Wales. You should make individual appointments with your local Registration Office around the same date.
You must be resident in the district where you give notice for the preceding eight days before the appointment, and on the ninth day, you will be free to give notice.
Don't Live in the Area you wish to have your ceremony?
Suppose you wish to have a ceremony in a district where you do not live. In that case, you will need to contact both the venue and the Registrar of that district to make arrangements and agree on the date and time of your ceremony. Once you have done this, you can give your notice to marry or form a civil partnership with the Registrar in your district.
Not a British citizen? Want to get married outside of England or Wales?
Please be aware that some conditions may apply in the following cases:
• Either party is not a British Citizen
• If the marriage/civil partnership is being held outside of England or Wales
• Either party is resident outside of England or Wales.
If any of the above applies to you or your partner, contact your Registration Offices for further advice.
Subject to Immigration Control?
If you or your partner is subject to immigration control, you must follow special procedures. You will need to give notice at a specially designated Registration Office.
Can you cancel your notice to marry or form a civil partnership?
You cannot cancel your marriage or civil partnership application. Suppose the wedding does not occur within 12 months after the date of the application. In that case, the application and all proceedings thereupon shall be void, and a new application shall be given before the parties can lawfully marry.