Welcome to the paperwork side of wedmin, which starts with booking your registrar. Do you know when you should have this sorted by? Hint: it’s a lot sooner than you might think!
When your mind is busy with beautiful dresses, décor and venues, it’s all too easy to let the more technical aspects of getting married slip. To start with, you actually need to have someone available to marry you – your registrar – and they don’t always automatically come with your venue.
How and when to find your local wedding registrar
Your first step for civil ceremonies is to look up the local registration office. You’ll find the registrars’ contact details listed on their website. You need a registrar who is local to your venue to be available for your ceremony time and date, likewise for ministers at religious weddings, although these will likely belong to the church or religious building you intend to marry at.
For this reason, it’s worth provisionally booking your registrar before paying your venue’s deposit if you can. Alternatively, ensure that the venue can cater for a range of ceremony times, depending upon what you later find your registrar has available – not all registrars will allow you to book more than 12 months in advance.
Where can the registrar marry us?
Your chosen registrar will be able to officiate your marriage at any licensed premises or registry office for civil ceremonies. If your venue is not licensed (think a tipi, field or a beach wedding), you can marry beforehand at the registry office and celebrate a blessing on the day. This is something we often see our featured couples do. The key is to remember that your registrar should be from the same district as your venue. This won’t always be the same as the district local to where you live.
How much will a registrar cost?
Expect to pay around £500 for the civil ceremony. There will also be smaller fees when you give notice and register your marriage. You’ll need to allocate £4 to purchase your marriage or civil partnership certificate on the day, or £10 if you purchase it later on. We recommend asking the best man to keep hold of some coins in his pocket, just in case.
What do you need to take with you and how much notice do you have to give?
When you meet with the registrar, you’ll need to take proof of your name, age, nationality and address, plus additional documentation if you have been divorced or widowed.
In most cases, for a civil ceremony you also need to give at least 28 days’ notice of your marriage. You do this by attending the district registry office that is local to where you live, in person, even if it is different to the district in which you will get married. This is because to give notice, you must have lived in the district for at least the past seven days.
For religious weddings, the formalities are a little different. Notice isn’t a requirement, but you do have to ensure that the banns of marriage are read on three Sundays during the three-month period before your wedding. You won’t need a registrar. The officials who perform the religious wedding ceremony can usually register your marriage, too.
Essential questions to ask your wedding registrar
Whatever type of ceremony you are planning, there are a few questions it’s best to ask. Things like what plan B is should your celebrant be unwell on the big day…
If you’re having a civil ceremony, you might also like to ask your registrar to avoid wearing certain coloured clothes. You might think you don’t mind, but what about colours that seriously clash with your colour scheme? Registrars feature in a lot of the ceremony photographs, after all, and many will be happy to oblige.
Around two months before the wedding, you’ll also want to share your choice of readings, music and vows with the registrar. Remember that for civil ceremonies, no hymns or religious readings will be allowed.
Want to make your wedding ceremony personal? Here are three ways to do it. Don’t forget that music can also help make your ceremony special, so watch out for the DOs and DON’Ts of choosing your ceremony songs!
While it may sound like a lot of hoops to jump through, marriage is a legal contract, entered into by you and your partner. All the paperwork does make sense really. And, while we’d love it to be, wedding planning can’t be entirely cupcakes, roses and Champagne, after all. That being said, the admin is a small price to pay for your future together as husband and wife.