What to expect on the day of your ceremony

On the day of the ceremony:

  • you must bring at least two people with you to be witnesses to your marriage
  • you can choose any relative or friend to be a witness
  • witnesses must understand the language of the ceremony and be able to understand what's taking place. Register Office staff are not allowed to act as a witness
  • we ask that you and your guests arrive at least 15 minutes before the ceremony is due to start

Here is a short guide to what happens during one of our ceremonies. This is your day and we welcome the opportunity to adapt the ceremony to your individual wishes. 

Registrar's introduction

Our registrars are there to help and guide you through the ceremony. They will welcome you and your guests to your approved venue. They will lead you through your ceremony and your legal declarations.

Legal Declarations (vows)

Two legal declarations must be spoken by each party to the marriage – these will be repeated after the registrar.

1st declaration

Modern: I declare that I know of no legal reason why I (name) may not be joined in marriage to (name)

Or

Traditional: I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (name) may not be joined in matrimony to (name)

Or

Short: Registrar asks ‘Are you (name) free lawfully to marry (name)’ – answer ‘I am’

2nd Declaration

Modern/Short: I (name) take you (name) to be my wedded wife/husband

Traditional: I call upon these persons here present to witness that I (name) do take thee (name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband

Exchanging rings

Many couples choose to include the exchange of rings in their ceremony. The wedding ring is placed on the third finger of the left hand of the bride or groom. This is a traditional declaration of commitment to each other. 

Finally

You're married!

You and your witnesses will sign the marriage register. You can follow this with photographs. We will then present you with your marriage certificate.

What to expect on the day of your civil partnership

If you are forming a civil partnership, you can choose to have a simple formation with no ceremony or a formation followed by a celebratory ceremony.  Find out what to expect on the day of your civil partnership.

More information

Please see the latest government guidance about wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.