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Civil weddings

8. Your wedding ceremony

We are delighted to be a part of your special day and want to make your ceremony personal to you both.

Please complete one of our online Your Marriage Ceremony options forms at least 2 months before your ceremony. This helps us plan and deliver your individual ceremony and allows you to make choices.

Your Marriage Ceremony options form

If you are hoping to hold your ceremony outdoors you also need to complete our outside ceremony agreement form.

The registrars will guide you through your ceremony, which will last about half an hour. Please make sure you and your guests arrive at least 30 minutes before your ceremony is due to start.

The registrar will see you and your partner (separately or together) before the ceremony to check your personal details that were given when you gave your notice of marriage.

Suggested order of ceremony

We have produced a suggested order of ceremony. This shows you how your ceremony will progress and how long any pieces of music you choose should be.


You need 2 witnesses, they can be friends or relatives. They need to be old enough to understand the ceremony and their role. They attend and understand the ceremony and sign the register.


There are words you must say which are prescribed by law. They declare you are free to marry and contract your marriage vows. If you would like to make extra vows to each other, we can give you some examples or you can write your own. Extra vows must not be religious or have any connection with a religious marriage ceremony. The registrar needs to see them at least 7 days before the ceremony.


Each register office can provide traditional wedding music, or you can use music that has a special meaning for you and your partner. The music cannot be religious. The music can be live or on CD and can be played:

  • whilst your guests are arriving
  • as you walk into the marriage room
  • when you are signing the register
  • as you lead your guests from the marriage room

Poetry and readings

If you wish, you or one of your guests could give a reading. You can select a poem or other reading or you could write your own. There is a huge selection of poetry and readings available for you to choose from and by adding these into your ceremony you can make it more personal and meaningful to you both. Whatever you decide, please remember we need to check any readings before your ceremony. There is room on the Marriage Ceremony Options Form for you to tell us which reading you have chosen.

For civil ceremonies, readings are not permitted to have any religious content or association.

Signing the register

During the ceremony, the registrar will record the marriage in the register, which you and your witnesses sign. You will then be presented with your marriage certificate. You can request extra copies either on the day or at a later date.

Photos and videos

It is your choice when photographs can be taken. Normally only an official or designated photographer takes photographs during the ceremony. However there is an opportunity for guests to take pictures of the mock signing of the register at the end of the ceremony. If you would like guests to do this please tell the Registrar. If you would like someone to video your ceremony, the Registrar will let them know the best place to stand.


Confetti is allowed outside the ceremony rooms. Some venues have restrictions on throwing confetti, please check with your venue.

Please ask your guests to turn off mobile phones before the ceremony starts. Please also note that food and drink is not allowed in any of the ceremony rooms.

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Last updated: 8 March 2018

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