Civil Wedding Ceremonies
Civil wedding ceremonies are non-religious legal marriage ceremonies performed by a government official or functionary. In the UK, this person is normally called a registrar. A civil ceremony cannot include hymns, religious readings or prayers, and the marriage must take place at a registered or licensed wedding venue to be legally valid. As well as the bride and groom, two witnesses must sign the register.
Before your civil wedding ceremony
To make sure everything goes ahead on time and without any hitches, you and your wedding guests should arrive at the civil ceremony at least 15 minutes before the time of your civil ceremony. Registrars are very busy and will normally be attending several weddings in one day, particularly at busy times. Remember to allow for traffic delays, parking and any pre-wedding photographs. Your civil ceremony may not be able to proceed if there are any delays.
Before the civil ceremony, the Registrar who will be registering the marriage will see both partners privately to check that the details to be entered into the marriage register are correct. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any last minute questions. After the final checks have taken place, the civil wedding ceremony can proceed.
During your civil wedding ceremony
Saying ‘I Do’ in front of your family and friends can be nerve-wracking, but the Registrars will be on hand to help you every step of the way. They will guide you through everything you need to do or say. That means there’s no need to worry about forgetting your lines or doing things in the wrong order during the civil ceremony.
Once the bride and groom and the witnesses are seated, the civil ceremony will begin with a welcome by the Registrar. The bride and groom will be asked to repeat a number of solemn declarations. There will include the choices you have made for your legal declarations and vows and your promises.
After you have made your marriage contract, you and your witnesses will sign the marriage register. Following this, the Registrars will sign the register and will present you with your marriage certificate. You can request additional copies of your marriage certificate by post.
After the civil wedding ceremony
After the bride and groom have been presented with their marriage certificate, there will be an opportunity for photographs to be taken. If you would like photographs during the Civil Ceremony, this needs to be discussed with the Registrar first. Wedding video recordings are allowed at civil wedding ceremonies.
Some wedding venues have restrictions on confetti, so please discuss this with the staff at your venue.
The typical format of a civil wedding ceremony
- Pre-arrival Music
- Entrance Music
- Welcome – presentation of the Bride
- Introduction – reading option
- Legal Statements
- Legal Declarations
- Rings, Promises and Contracting words
- Reading Option
- The signing of the Register (signing music)
- Presentation of the marriage certificate and conclusion
- Exit Music
Our thanks go to the Oxfordshire Registrars for providing this information.
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