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Marriage legal preliminaries

Legal preliminaries must be completed before a marriage can take place.

Marriage in a church

If you are getting married in the Church of England, you will make all of your arrangements through the vicar at that church.

If you wish to marry in any other religious building which is registered, that is a non-conformist church, such as Baptist, Methodist, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Sikh or other religious denomination, you are still required to give your notice at the local register office.

If you are a same-sex couple you cannot get married in a Church of England or Church of Wales church. Other religious organisations are able to 'opt-in' to holding ceremonies. Please contact the register office in the district where you live to discuss this matter further. 

Marriage abroad

If you wish to marry in a country other than England and Wales, you may be required to produce documentation stating that you are free to marry. Please contact your local superintendent registrar for advice.

Civil weddings

You can marry in any register office or approved venue within England or Wales, regardless of where you live. These marriages are civil occasions.

Before you can marry in a register office, an approved premise or a non-conformist church, you must both give notice of your intention to marry. You cannot give notice of marriage more than 12 months before the date you have chosen for your marriage. A notice of marriage must be given by each of you in person, in the district where you live, and a standard fee is charged for this.

A number of documents will have to be produced at this time. You will need to show evidence of your name, age and nationality - ideally in the form of your passport. You will also be asked to provide evidence of your address. If you have been married or registered a civil partnership before, you will also need to produce documents that confirm that you are now free to marry. These could include a divorce decree absolute or final order of civil partnership dissolution or the death certificate of your former husband, wife or civil partner.

You must contact your local register office to book an appointment to give your legal notices of marriage. Once you've attended your appointment, the notices will be displayed at the register office for a minimum of 28 days before the certificate which allows your marriage to take place can be issued.

Your marriage can only take place at the venue stated on your notice of marriage. If you change the venue, you must give and pay for fresh notices of marriage.