Legal marriage with a Registrar

What is a Registrar? A Registrar is NOT a Celebrant!

A Registrar is a council admin employee who keeps a record of all the births, deaths and marriages in their area. As citizens, we are under a legal requirement to record these life events with the Registrar.

However, the Registrar does not expect to be present at the birth of a child, and they certainly cannot be at each death. That would be absurd. Instead, these are recorded by the family after the event.

By the same logic, they do not have to attend your wedding ceremony either. You can record your marriage legally at any time before (or after) your celebration.

You can separate the legal part from your big wedding day, as they do in much of Europe.

The system has evolved so that the Registrar conducts the ceremony, either at the registry office or at your venue. We have accepted it without question as the only option if you don’t want a church wedding, but you DO have an alternative to the boring council script!

Register Office

What is a statutory ceremony?

The alternative is to have a bare basics marriage with the Registrar, thus dealing with the legal side of marriage separately. Then you can have your big celebration ceremony wherever, whenever and however you want, with a Celebrant.

This process is called a statutory marriage and takes place at the Registrar’s office, with just two witnesses. There are just a few simple steps.

First, you prove that you are who you say you are. This process begins when you give your notice and produce your ID documents.

On the day of the statutory ceremony itself, you are legally required to make two statements and then sign the marriage schedule.

1. You state that you are legally free to marry. “I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I NAME may not be joined in matrimony to NAME”.

2. You consent to marry your partner. “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, NAME do take thee NAME, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband”.

Sample Marriage Schedule

That’s it. The cost is £35 per person plus a small admin fee. There is no requirement to make any additional vows, exchange rings or include any other elements. It takes 10-15 minutes.

As with all marriages and civil partnerships since May 2021, you do not sign the register and you are not issued with a marriage certificate on the day. You sign an A4 document (the marriage schedule) which has all your details pre-filled. Once the details of the marriage have been entered into the electronic register a marriage certificate is posted to the couple, within 7 days of the ceremony.

What can we do with a Celebrant that we can’t with a Registrar?

Once you have broken free of the rules and obligations that come with a Registrar, you are free to use a Celebrant to conduct your ceremony, and that ceremony can be awesome!

Here are some of the things that you can do:

· Completely free choice of location & time of day

· Personalised vows and readings

· Include “your story”

· Live music during the ceremony

· Involve children and wider family

· Include religious or spiritual references

· Have alcoholic drinks and toasts

· Include symbolic elements (jumping the broom, handfasting, candle ceremonies)

The sky's the limit when it comes to planning your Celebrant-led ceremony. I'd love to help you to bring your dreams to life!

Find out more...