Notice of Intention to Marry Your Questions Answered

What must we do to marry?

In England and Wales, unless you are getting married in a Church of England, you need to visit the Register Office and give notice of your intention to marry. This is a legal requirement.

Giving notice of your intention to marry permits your marriage to take place after sixteen clear days and within a year of the date of giving notice.

What are the requirements for giving notice?

To give notice at your local Register Office you must have lived in the district for seven days immediately before the notice is given. Your partner should also have lived for the same seven days at his / her address. It does not matter if either of you moves to a different address before your wedding day so long as the seven days residence requirement is established before you each give notice.

However, if one of you lives elsewhere, you will need to give notice of intention to marry in person at the Register Office in the district where you live.

You must wait at least sixteen days after each of you has given notice before the marriage ceremony takes place. During this waiting period the notices are displayed on the Register Office Notice Board.

On the sixteenth day the Register Office issues a certificate of authority which is required for a legal marriage. You will need one certificate for the bride and one for the groom. There is no fee payable for these certificates.

Do we need to do anything else?

If you are being married in the same district that you have registered in you do not need to do anything else. If you are getting married elsewhere the certificate(s) of authority from your local register office must be delivered to the registry office in the district where you are getting married before the day of the ceremony if possible.

No legal marriage can take place without these certificates of authority.

What must we do to marry in church?

If you intend to marry in a church, other than the Church of England, the procedure for giving notice is exactly the same as giving notice of intention to marry in a register office. You can marry in a church which is not in the district where either of you live if the Church is your usual place of worship or where there is no place of worship for your religion in the district where either of you lives.

What are Wedding Banns

If you are planning a Church of England wedding, you do not give notice of your intention at the Register Office. You should see your local vicar. He will arrange for Banns to be read and will then issue his own certificate for the marriage to take place.

What will we be asked when we give notice?

The Superintendent Registrar will interview you in private and ask you a number of questions. There is nothing to worry about. Information is required about you and your fiance(e) and the arrangements (date and place) for the ceremony.

You need to tell the registrar the name you are known by (and any names you have ever used) age, nationality, your present or most recent occupation, your marital status, where you are living and how long you have lived there.

You will need to provide the name and address and local authority area of the place where the wedding is to be. If you are being married in a church etc. you need to tell the registrar the denomination and the name of the officiating minister.

Do we need any documents?

You are required to provide evidence of your name, age, nationality and marital status. A passport is most useful for this purpose as it records your name, date and place of birth and nationality. If you do not have a passport you should bring a Home Office Travel document, Home Office acknowledgement of application for asylum, or national identity card. If you have none of these, two other documents such as a birth certificate and medical card, utilities bill with your name on it, bank card etc. may be acceptable. You should bring some form of proof of your address such as a utility bill. If you have been previously married you will need to show how the marriage ended - a death certificate if you are a widow(er), a divorce decree absolute bearing the court's original stamp if you are divorced. If the divorce was granted in another country you may be asked for evidence that the divorce has become effective (e.g. family book, civil registration).

If your documents are not in English you should provide a translation - the translator should sign and show their name and address and should not be either party to the marriage. Original documents are required - photocopies are not acceptable.

If either of you is under eighteen years of age, you will need to produce evidence of consent by your parent or guardian.

What will we be told about marrying at the Register Office?

Apart from booking your wedding day for an available time convenient to you, the registrar will provide you with a colourful guide. The guide will tell you about the ceremony and all the other things that you will need to know for your wedding day.

The registrar will discuss with you whether there are any special or cultural features you would like incorporated in the marriage ceremony (e.g. provision of music, additional commitments to each other, readings of poetry or prose).

The registrar will help you plan your ceremony and will try and ensure that all the arrangements for your wedding day fully accord with your wishes.

Can we marry elsewhere?

Yes, apart from marrying in church, you can marry in any other register office in England and Wales. You can also marry in other premises which have been approved for civil marriages. These premises tend to be hotels, stately homes, civic halls, galleries etc. where both the marriage ceremony and the wedding reception can be held.

Can we book our wedding before giving formal notice of intention to marry?

Yes. The law only allows you to give notice of marriage one year before the proposed date of your marriage

How much will our register office wedding cost?

Fees are payable for:-

Giving notice of marriage (fee not refundable if the marriage does not take place)
The marriage ceremony
The marriage certificate

Fees for marrying in approved premises are set by the local authority. All other fees are set by Parliament and are regularly reviewed. If you contact a Registry Office they will be happy to advise you of the current scale of fees.

What do we do if we want to change the arrangements?

The date: The certificate of authority for your marriage is valid for a year from the date notice is given. With the agreement of those conducting the ceremony the date and time can be changed so long as both certificates (for the bride and groom) are still valid. If a fresh date for the ceremony is outside this timescale notices will need to be given again and the fee paid.

The place: If you decide to change the place where your marriage is to be solemnised you are required to give fresh notices of marriage (and to pay the fee). Remember that the sixteen day waiting period will begin again.

Both the bride and the groom must give a notice of intention to marry in person. No one else can do this on your behalf. Everyone getting married at a civil ceremony in England and Wales needs to do this before the ceremony.