Getting married - arranging your ceremony

A civil marriage is a completely secular (non-religious) ceremony that is conducted by a registration officer. It can take place at a register office or venue that has been licensed to hold marriage ceremonies.

The ceremony cannot have any religious content, but individual touches can be added such as non-religious music, readings added to the legal wording and a video of the ceremony itself.

Book a Registrar for a Ceremony

To arrange a civil ceremony

Decide where the ceremony will take place

Civil ceremonies may take place in York House, a Grade II listed Georgian building set within a quarter of an acre of mature, secluded gardens. The booking fee includes the use of the room for the duration of the ceremony, and the attendance of the registrars.

Alternatively, there is a choice of many licensed venues in the borough that have been approved as civil ceremony venues. A fee will need to be paid for the attendance of the registration officer, in addition to any fees that the venue will have charged for the hire of the licensed room.

Decide when the ceremony will take place

A registration officer needs to be available to attend the ceremony, and can be booked up to a year in advance. Bookings are taken on a strictly first come, first served basis.

Notice needs to be given which can be given up to a year in advance.

Pre-ceremony interviews need to be conducted. The timings depend on where and when the ceremony takes place:

Pre-ceremony interviews
Venue Details
Ceremony in The Loggia Room, York House

An hour appointment will be booked.

You and your guests must arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

This will allow time for photographs and for you to have your pre-ceremony interview with the registrar. You can be interviewed separately if you would prefer to maintain tradition.

(For example, if you would like your ceremony to start at 3pm, book 3 to 4pm. Partner 1 and your guests will need to arrive at 2.45pm. If being interviewed separately, Partner 2 will need to arrive at 2:50pm.)

Ceremony at an approved venue

The registrars will arrive at the start of your booking time, and your pre-ceremony interviews will take place in the first half hour. You can be seen separately, and the staff at your venue will organise this.

Your ceremony will begin half an hour after the start of your booking.

(For example, if you would like your ceremony to start at 3pm, book 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Partner 1 and your guests will need to arrive at 2.30pm. If being interviewed separately, Partner 2 will need to arrive at 2.45pm.)

Simple ceremony, York House (room subject to availability)

A 30 minute appointment will be booked.

You and your two witnesses must arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

This will allow time for your pre-ceremony interview with the registrar. You will be interviewed together.

Attendance is strictly limited to the couple and two witnesses only. The ceremony will include the two legal declarations and signing of the register. Enhancements are not permitted.

Marriage in a church or other religious building

If the marriage is in a Church of England or Church of Wales, the vicar needs to be contacted to make the arrangements for the ceremony. The vicar will also arrange the calling of banns (the legal preliminaries equivalent to giving notice of marriage). The Register Office does not need to be contacted.

If the marriage is in any other denomination of church, for example Roman Catholic, the priest or minister in charge needs to be contacted to make the arrangements for the ceremony. The Register Office needs to be contacted to make an appointment to give notices of marriage. A list of licensed religious buildings can be found here.

Ceremony costs

The service fees to be paid are dependent upon the venue and day of the week of the ceremony.

Please read our terms and conditions before making a ceremony booking.

Further information

Your ceremony pack will have further details.

The ceremonies guide provides further information that may be needed to prepare for the ceremony.

Updated: 1 April 2018