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What is a civil ceremony?

Civil ceremonies and Civil Partnerships can take place in lots of different venues -- but how are they defined?

A civil marriage ceremony cannot have any religious content, but you may be able to arrange for individual touches such as non-religious music and readings to be added to the legal wording, and for the ceremony to be videoed. The register office where you intend to marry will be able to tell you more about the options available.

A Civil Partnership is legally formed by the signing of the civil partnership schedule. Like a civil marriage, this is also non-religious, but couples who wish to arrange for a ceremony should discuss this with the registration officials.

A civil ceremony or civil partnership is conducted by the superintendent registrar or deputy and can take place in a register office or a licensed venue after 08:00 and before 18:00 daily, subject to staffing arrangements.  These include stately homes and other prestigious buildings, hotels and restaurants.

The registrar has to receive an “authority” for your marriage to be able to proceed, which can only be obtained by giving a notice of marriage or partnership, which you must do at your local register office (or offices if the couple live in different areas) at least fifteen days before the wedding/partnership. 

Before you give notice, you should make sure that you are able to satisfy the laws concerning residency and immigration control.

You will be required to bring at least two other people to the ceremony who are prepared to witness the marriage/partnership and sign the register.

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