Planning your wedding day is exciting. You have so much to think about, the dress, the flowers, the cake and, of course, the venue.
Will you have bridesmaids and page boys? Do you want your ceremony to be outdoors, surrounded by beautiful countryside, or in a gorgeous historic barn?
There’s just one little detail you mustn’t forget. You need to book the registrar.
So, what is a registrar, and how much do they cost?
The legalities of getting married in the UK.
Getting married is a wonderful, emotional day where you declare your love for each other in front of family and friends. It’s easy to forget for a moment that it’s also a legal contract and comes with a little bit of red tape.
The first thing to do is decide where you would like to have your wedding. You cannot just pick anywhere, as the location has to be licensed to carry out the legal aspects.
If you would like a religious ceremony, you can choose any registered religious building, such as a church. If you are marrying in a religious building, check with the minister. It is likely that they are authorised to run the ceremony, and you won’t need a registrar, although you still need to ‘give notice’.
If you do not want a religious element, you can be married in the register office or any licensed building. Coton House Farm, for example, is licensed to hold ceremonies in The Old Dairy Barn, The Oak Barn, or outside at The Pergola.
Giving Notice of your intention to marry
Now you have decided where you will marry, you need to ‘give notice’. This is a legal requirement to confirm that you are both free to marry, so you will need to attend together and take identification. The notice details who is getting married and where, and you need to do this at least 28 days before the ceremony takes place. You must also hold your wedding ceremony within 12 months.
Traditionally, for a religious ceremony the church will also read the banns of marriage on at least three Sundays during the months before your wedding.
The role of your registrar
The registrar is the person legally authorised to carry out your ceremony, or at least to be present as a witness and to sign the marriage schedule. Usually, they will need plenty of notice to book your ceremony, so prioritise this as one of the first parts of planning your wedding. You can usually check and book their availability online, which makes it simple to do at the same time as you book your venue.
You need to book a registrar who is local to the place where you are getting married – not the one local to where you live. The fee for the registrar varies depending on where the ceremony will be held, from a basic fee of approximately £57 for the statutory ceremony room at the register office, to around £600 in a licensed venue.
Always speak to the registrar to understand what is involved in the ceremony itself. Typically, the registrar is booked for a 30-minute ceremony, during which you may pick a non-religious song and one or two readings. You are not allowed to change the wording of the legal vows themselves. And make sure you ask questions about the practicalities, such as who will cover for them if they are unwell on the day.
On the day the registrar will arrive before the ceremony and meet separately with the bride and groom to confirm they are entering the marriage willingly. Then they will run the ceremony, witness the signing of the schedule, and leave you to carry on with the celebrations. They will add your details to the wedding register, and you’ll be sent an official copy of your wedding certificate later.
Creating the ceremony you choose
Some couples want to personalise their wedding day with unique vows and traditional elements such as a handfasting. They are surprised at the very formulaic ceremony provided by the registrar. However, there are options you can consider to personalise your day, such as choosing a celebrant.
In that case, you might choose to do the legal aspect of the wedding at the register office with the required witnesses, and then hold a completely personalised ceremony, designed by your celebrant, at your venue. This also means that you can organise separate dates for the legal side and the celebration, making it easier to book both.
At Coton House Farm we are delighted to help you plan your perfect wedding day, whether you choose an indoor or outdoor ceremony. We are also just a short walk away from The Church of St Giles, in Whittington, ideal for a religious ceremony, or 4 miles from Lichfield Register Office, if you prefer to choose a celebrant led ceremony instead. Contact us today to discuss how we can make your dream day come true.
Tel: 0300 111 8001