How to legally marry with a UK Wedding Celebrant

Legally marry in UK

Want to know how to legally marry when having a Celebrant-led wedding in the UK?

The Celebrant Directory have teamed up with the lovely Jenny Knight, from Knight Ceremonies to give you the information you need to know to be legally wed. Jenny has been in the wedding and events business for 22 years and is a professionally trained Celebrant. She knows her stuff!

So Jenny, what are the steps a couple need to go through in order to get the legal part of their marriage complete? Over to you!

Thanks! Great to be here! Getting the legal part of your marriage complete is really easy. I am here to guide you through that process in a few simple steps!

Step One

Find your dream wedding location and book your venue.  Remember that it need not be a licensed space if you separate your legal signing, which then opens up a multitude of different options to you.  If you love a stately home, but want an outdoor wedding, have a wander around the grounds and pick somewhere with great views, or perhaps with the house as a backdrop.

There are no restrictions if using a Celebrant when it comes to location, so long as you have permission from the land or venue owner.

Did you know that Wedding Celebrants will work outside at any time of the year?

Registrars are restricted by guidelines that state that once the temperature drops below 16 degrees, they will automatically move the ceremony inside.  I have conducted woodland ceremonies in Autumn for example, and myself and the guests just dressed accordingly!

I cant stress enough that Celebrant led weddings can be officiated anywhere, so pick a venue that suits you as a couple, and one you truly love!

Step Two

Once you have found your dream location for your day, the next thing should be to research and book your officiant, and if that is to be a Wedding Celebrant, then you will need to check their availability, and of course, have a consultation in order to confirm if they are the right fit for your and your wedding.

The benefit of this is that you can actually choose who conducts your wedding, and build a relationship with them before your big day. Having a say in your ceremony content, format, and flow is a huge benefit and can mean the difference between a choice of three pre-set government scripts and a truly personal and unique one!

Most Celebrants will only conduct one wedding a day, thus making sure you can choose the best time, and one that suits you both, rather than accepting whatever is left.

Step Three

You will now need to register your intent to marry. This must be done in all cases, whether you choose a registrar or Celebrant, as it enables the registration service to prepare your legal documentation and record the details of your marriage.

You can contact your local office and advise them of this, and state that you have already booked your Celebrant, and will just require a simple service to complete your paperwork and declarations.   This is then booked in on a date nearer your wedding day, usually the day before or day after. You are free however to choose when this takes place so book your legal signing in when it suits you.

Step Four

When you attend your legal service, it is worth remembering that you can save your vows and your ring exchanges, along with all other personal details for your Celebrant-led ceremony.  It is not a legal requirement to do this when you sign your papers. Just inform the registry office that you would like to do this.

You will be required to take two witnesses and choose one from each of the following legal statements:

Declaratory Words

“I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, AB, may not be joined in matrimony to CD.”

or “I declare that I know of no legal reason why I, AB, may not be joined in marriage to CD.”

Or By replying “I am” to the question “Are you AB free lawfully to marry CD?” …

Contractual Vows

“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, AB, do take thee, CD, to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”

or “I AB take you CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)”

or “I AB take thee CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)” …

The current (2017) Standard UK Fees Notice of Marriage are £35 per person which are payable to the registration service in which both parties live. You will also need to book the Statutory Ceremony which is £46 (+£4 for your marriage certificate).

You are then free to hold your ceremony wherever and whenever you like! Over the past couple of years, I have conducted ceremonies on the beach, in beautiful woodlands, castles, stately homes, on working farms, in rustic barns, at lakeside settings, and in fields with tipis, fire pits and cows!

Step Five

Now that your venue is booked, your Celebrant secured and your intent to marry logged at the registration service, you can set about planning your big day with gusto, and without restrictions!

The same process applies for destination weddings too.  If you are wanting to have your ceremony abroad, why not separate the legal signing and avoid all the red tape at your wedding destination.  Upon your arrival abroad you will often have to complete documentation and visit several government offices and associations in order to satisfy their requirements.  It’s a lot simpler this way!

It really is a simple process!

Photographer Credit: Alisa Roberts

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