Wedding Planning

Registry Office Wedding: Everything You Need To Know

Planning a registry office wedding? This guide takes you through everything you need to know, from costs and booking advice to that must-have confetti exit.

4 Min Read

Woolwich Town Hall

There are many benefits to a registry office wedding. They can be cheaper, easier to organise and more flexible. Despite preconceptions, registry buildings can also be very beautiful, often boasting period features (big-up Chelsea Old Town Hall and Woolwich Town Hall)!

This guide takes you through everything you need to know when planning a registry wedding, from costs and booking advice to that must-have confetti exit.

Chelsea Old Town Hall

What You Need To Know Before Booking A Registry Office

What is a Registry Office?
The Registry Office or Register Office is a British Government office where births, marriages, and deaths are officially recorded.

What Is a Civil Ceremony?
A civil ceremony is the name of a non-religious marriage performed by a registrar. The ceremony is legally binding and must take place at a registry office or other licensed venue. With this in mind, a civil ceremony cannot include anything religious, including songs or readings with religious connotations.

Registrars vs Wedding Celebrants
A registrar is the name of the person who will legally record your marriage via a civil ceremony. A celebrant is a person who creates a bespoke ceremony, guiding the couple through the necessary requirements for marriage. They cannot legally approve your wedding. 

If you would like to get married using a celebrant, you will still need to have a registrar present at your ceremony to carry out the legal aspect of your wedding. Your celebrant will conduct your ceremony, and your registrar will oversee the signing of the register. Ask your chosen office to outline the cost of this.

Why Get Married at a Registry Office?
Civil weddings have become increasingly popular as they are a more affordable way to get married and are much quicker (and easier) to organise.

If you're not looking for a traditional white wedding, getting married at a registry office is a modern alternative, with many boasting beautiful, unique character features. You can formally tie the knot at a registry before heading to another destination. Or, turn your civil ceremony into a spectacular celebration!

Who Can Get Married At A Registry Office?
The rules are the same for a registry office wedding as any other wedding in the UK. As of 27 February 2023, you cannot get married if you're under 18. You'll need to both be UK citizens or, if not, apply for a visa. For more detailed information, head over to GOV.UK.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Married in a Registry Office?
Weddings held in registry offices are much cheaper than traditional weddings. You'll need to pay for using the council office, a registrar and for giving notice. Here is an outline of expected fees, but check with your chosen wedding registry office for exact costs.

Registrar: £46 at a registry office
⁠Giving Notice: £35 per person (UK citizen)
⁠Registry Office: £50 - £1000 (dependent on location, time and room type.)

Can I Decorate My Chosen Registry?
Each registry office will have its own rules regarding decorations, and most will have their own flower decorations already in place. However, some venues will let you bring your own flowers and decorations - as long as they're easy to move. It's important to remember that usually, there are multiple civil ceremonies in one day. Any decorations will have to be removed immediately after your civil ceremony.

Old Finsbury Town Hall
Old Finsbury Town Hall

How To Book A Registry Office For Your Wedding

First things first, pick your wedding registry office. There are many beautiful registry offices around, many of which boast unique features. You can search for registry offices here.

Once you have decided on your registry office, you should book your registrar. You can book your registrar by visiting the website of your chosen registry office. The price of a registrar starts from £36 if you are both UK citizens.

You'll then need to 'give notice' of your wedding. To do this, you will need to sign a statement at your local registry office - even if you choose to marry at a another location.

When giving notice, you'll need to provide details of your wedding venue, proof of home address, a valid passport and proof of any name change. Here is a complete list of the documents you need to give notice. You'll also need to give notice at least 28 days before you get married, and your 'notice' will be valid for 12 months. There is a fee of £35 per person to give notice.

How Many Witnesses Do We Need To Get Married?
You will need two witnesses to get married at a register office in the UK. You don't have to know your witnesses, although couples usually choose those closest to them. Legally, your witness doesn't have to be of a certain age, but it's best practice to check with your venue first in case they have their own restrictions. Your witnesses must understand the language of the ceremony and be mature enough to know what is happening.

Old Marylebone Town Hall

The Pre-marriage Interview

Before your civil ceremony, you'll have a separate pre-marriage interview with your registrar. The interview is a simple meeting where you confirm details for your marriage certificate - nothing to stress over!

Couple, wedding registry wedding
Signing the registrar

What Happens at a Registry Office Wedding

Your civil ceremony will consist of vows and the signing of the register. First, your registrar will welcome you. Readings will follow, including any readings from family and friends.

Then you'll say your vows! There is set wording for your vows, but you can personalise these. If you choose to write your own vowels, there are certain legal words you need to include, and you should speak to your registrar about this.

Afterwards, you'll exchange your rings - not a requirement - although most couples choose to do this! A reading will follow and you'll be asked to sign the registrar. And then it's time for that confetti exit!

"A marriage ceremony in a local registry office will take approximately 10-15 minutes."


Bride and groom wedding attire

What To Wear At A Registry Office Wedding?

The wonderful thing about a registry office wedding is that you can truly wear whatever you want. Opt for an elegant designer gown. Pare it back with a classic suit. Go bold in a whimsical blue wedding jumpsuit complete with ruffles. There really are no rules! The most important thing is to celebrate your style and personality.

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