What to consider

5 steps to getting married
It’s not every day you plan a wedding, and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start, words like ‘giving notice’ and deciding what type of ceremony you’d like can be a little confusing. So, we’ve put together this helpful guide with everything you need to know about how to get legally married in the UK.

Whether it’s a same-sex wedding, your first or second marriage, the process is exactly the same. We’ve put together this helpful guide with everything you need to know from when you get engaged to receiving your marriage certificate – this is your ‘how to’ on saying ‘I Do’!

1 – Get Engaged and check you’re able to marry

A very important first step is finding that someone that you want to tackle all life’s adventures with. It’s such an exciting time that it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of planning. Before you get too far into the details, there are some legal rules in the UK about who can marry, so if you tick all these boxes below you are able to get married or form a civil partnership…

    - You are over 18 years old. If you are under 18 years of age, as of the 27th of February 2023 you are unable to get married until you are 18 years old. more info
    - Not already married or in a civil partnership.
    - Not closely related.
    - A UK citizen or are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or have definite leave to remain in the UK.
    - Capable of understanding what marriage and consenting to marriage means.

    If you or your partner are from outside the UK, there are other rules that apply which can be found here; www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships

    2 – Decide on the type of ceremony you’d like

    Once you’ve ticked all the boxes needed to legally marry within the UK, the next step is to choose whether you’d like to get married or form a civil partnership.

    Whilst civil partnerships are recognised as a legal relationship offering the same rights as married couples, there are no legal words required to be spoken as there is with a marriage ceremony.

    Civil Ceremonies, Religious Ceremonies or Humanist/Celebrant-Led ceremonies are all types of ceremonies which we’ve explained each below;

    Civil Partnerships offers the same legal recognition as marriage for couples, without the traditional marriage ceremony. As part of the ceremony, you are both required to sign a civil partnership document in front of two witnesses and a registrar to register the partnership.

    Civil Ceremonies are non-religious ceremonies that can only legally take place in a registry office or a licensed venue such as Tree Top Escape. Civil Ceremonies are conducted by registrars, where as a minimum, couples must exchange vows including contractual words which are required by law. Couples can also opt to add their own personal vows and readings, providing there is no religious content. There must be two witnesses present during the ceremony that will sign the marriage register along with the couple getting married and the registrar conducting the ceremony.

    Registrars from the local area will attend the venue for the marriage ceremony, which costs approximately £500 however this can vary depending on the ceremony date.

    Humanist or Celebrant-Led Ceremonies are not currently considered a legal marriage ceremony within England, therefore for the marriage to be legal a ceremony at a registry office would also be required. Humanist or Celebrant-Led ceremonies offer an alternative to the traditional marriage ceremony, with the ability to create a personal ceremony to you.

    Religious Ceremonies can only take place in registered religious buildings. For religious ceremonies there are prescribed words, and declarations required and the officiant performing the ceremony will need to be licensed to perform the ceremony.

    5 steps to getting married

    3 – Find your perfect venue and booking the registrars.

    When having a civil ceremony, the venue you choose will need to be licensed to hold marriages with the local district. Once you’ve found your perfect venue, the next step is to book your wedding ceremony with the local registrars to the venue, for Tree Top Escape this is Devon Registry Office.

    Before you book the registrar, you will need to have your wedding date and venue name ready to provide so we recommend reserving your date with your venue first.

    4 – Give Notice

    One final step before getting to the fun part of planning the details for your day…is giving notice if you’ve opted for a Civil Ceremony or having your banns read if a religious ceremony.

    Giving notice is a legal statement, that is signed by both of you to show your intention to marry. This must be done at least 29 days (but no earlier than 12 months) before your ceremony.

    Giving notice can be done at your local registry office, even if your venue is in another district. Notice can also be given separately, and on different days if you live in separate districts. The fee for this is £35 per person, or £47 if either of you are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland or you need a visa to live in the UK.

    To give notice in your local registry office, you will need to have lived within the district for the past 7 days and you will need to provide documents that prove your identity and that you are legally able to marry each other. A full list of documents required when giving notice can be found here

    For religious ceremonies in the Churches of England and Wales, your marriage will be registered at the same time as the ceremony. However, many churches read ‘banns’ within the parish which are read for three Sunday’s ahead of your ceremony.

    5 steps to getting married

    5 - Finalise details of your ceremony

    As your ceremony date approaches, you will need to decide on the details of your ceremony including vows, music and readings if wanted.

    For your marriage to become legal, vows must be exchanged which include contractual words, and you can choose to add your own personal vows into this. The registrars from the district in which you are marrying will be in touch a month before your ceremony date to ask questions about your ceremony, including if you’d like to add personal vows, music or reading. The registrar conducting your ceremony will then check the wording of your vows as well as planned music and readings to ensure there is no religious content.

    Now is the time to start thinking about the extras that you’d like as part of your day, including contacting suppliers for your wedding day!

    6 – Your wedding day!

    You’ve done the hard part of planning, now it’s time for the fun!

    On the day of your wedding, you will meet your registrar who is conducting your ceremony, who will talk you through what to expect within the ceremony. You will also have a second registrar who is there to ensure the legal requirements of the ceremony are met, they will double check your details provided with your notice statement. These are the details that will be on your marriage certificate.

    A Civil Ceremony will last approximately 15-20 minutes and will include the signing of a schedule. The schedule is a document that is used to prepare your marriage certificate. Marriage certificates are delivered to your home address provided within 2 weeks of your ceremony.

    At the end of your ceremony, the registrar will pronounce you married, and you’ve done it! Now you can relax and enjoy celebrating your day however you have chosen to, whether that’s by jumping in the hot tub, or heading off to the beach for fish and chips!

    Looking to book an intimate wedding? We would love to help; just email us weddings@treetopescape.co.uk or call Bob or Nicola on 01769 629069
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