It’s important to remember that as fabulous as your celebrant led ceremony is, it is not a legal ceremony (yet, we are working on that one!) so at some point, if you want to be married in the eyes of the law you will need to legalise your marriage.
Thankfully, legalising your marriage is a lot more straightforward than it sounds! Here’s how it works:
The first thing you’ll need to do is to give notice. You will both need to attend your local registry office to give what is called a ‘Notice of Marriage’. You will need to take identification documents and documents that prove your address, and there is more information about this on the gov website which I have linked further down this post.
You will also need to state where you intend to have your legal ceremony. In most cases people looking to have a celebrant led ceremony will have their legal bit in the registry office itself. They will also ask you tonnes of questions that all sound a bit bizarre, like whether you know what your partner does for a living! These questions are normal so don’t think everything has gone a bit weird.
Once you have attended this appointment your intention to marry will be published in that registry office for 28 days. If at the end of this 28 days no formal objections have been raised against your intention to marry, permission for your marriage will be granted and you can have your legal ceremony. This must be done within a year of obtaining permission (applicable to England and Wales).
It costs £35 per person to give notice.
Once the 28 days has ticked over and you are free to marry you will need to have a statutory ceremony. This is a no frills ceremony where you will state declaratory words and contractual vows. Both of these are a legal requirement in the UK and are unavoidable. You should be given the choice of three slightly different wordings for both of these. You will then sign the marriage register and voila, you are married in the eyes of the law.
You will need to take two witnesses to this ceremony, but you can save all the fun bits like dresses and music and readings for your fabulous celebrant ceremony.
A statutory ceremony costs at £46 + £11 for a certificate.
You can find more info on the gov website.