Cambridge Marina

Everything you wanted to know about a civil wedding (but were afraid to ask)

Everything You Wanted to Know About a Civil Wedding (But Were Afraid to Ask)

If you are thinking of tying the knot it can seem daunting knowing where to start. We believe that no question is a silly question and no detail unimportant, so we have put together the dos and don’ts of the civil wedding to give you a head start. What’s more, with our dedicated wedding planners guiding you step by step, a Cambridge Marina wedding is a wedding that you can enjoy from your very first show round visit until the departure of your very last guest.

What Is a Civil Wedding Ceremony in the UK?

A civil ceremony is a marriage without any religious context, performed by a registrar. The ceremony is legally binding. Some people choose to have a longer religious ceremony (or non-religious blessing such as a commitment ceremony) and do the civil ceremony either before or after that to ensure they’re legally wed. This is also true of couples who are getting married abroad in a country where it’s difficult for non-residents to get legally married. However, plenty of couples have a civil ceremony as their main and only ceremony.

Who conducts the ceremony?

A civil wedding ceremony must be conducted by an official registrar in a licensed area. We hold a license for The Marquee and for outdoor ceremonies on The Island. Once your chosen date has been agreed and the wedding has been booked, you will then need to book the registrar.

What does “giving notice” mean?

In order to hold the ceremony, the registrar needs “authority” which you can obtain by giving notice of your forthcoming marriage at your local registry office. If you and your partner live in different areas of the UK, you will both need to do this at your own relevant local office, and in the area local to your venue. Notice must be given at least 28 days before the marriage, and you must hold the ceremony within 12 months otherwise you’ll have to go through the process again.

What is involved in a civil ceremony?

The civil ceremony must include legal declarations and vows, which are essentially verbal commitments made by both partners to love, cherish and support each other through the rest of your lives. You are also required to invite at least two other people to the ceremony, either family or friends. These people act as witnesses to the ceremony and must sign the official marriage register at the end of the ceremony.

First, you’ll separately have a pre-marriage interview with the registrar in order to confirm details for the marriage certificate. Typically, the ceremony itself consists of vows and the signing of the register. There is set wording for the vows – there are different versions of this, however, which you’ll choose in advance. After the service the marriage certificate may be given to you or sent to your local registrar’s office to be logged and then forwarded on to you.

Can we personalise the ceremony?

In addition to the standard vows, you will also have the option to add extra wording. You could also personalise the civil ceremony through song choices, or by having friends and family perform readings. You will need to run all readings and music choices past the registrar in advance, and these cannot have religious associations.

Can we include music in the ceremony?

You are, of course, allowed to include music in your civil wedding ceremony. You can either use recorded music or employ musicians – perhaps a harpist or a string quartet – to set the scene. Then, you can ask for music of your choice to play while you sign the register at the end of the ceremony.

Why can’t I have hymns or prayers during my ceremony?

In law a civil ceremony is a strictly non-religious affair. This means that everything you use, from the music to the readings, must be free of obvious specifically religious connotations. You can choose to have a religious blessing of your marriage after a civil ceremony. This could be conducted by a religious officiant, a celebrant or even a friend or family member.

Can I still exchange rings with my partner?

Of course! Although the idea of wedding rings seems grounded in religion, the practice of exchanging and wearing rings goes back to Ancient Egypt.

What Do I Wear to a Civil Wedding Ceremony?

It depends on the mood you’re setting for the day. If you want something grand and formal, then your outfit can reflect this; or go laidback if that’s your style. There are really no rules!

Is it different if I have married before?

When you are applying for your notice of marriage certificate, take all relevant documents with you. For example, this may include a decree absolute or a death certificate if you are widowed. After the process of applying for notice, your previous relationships change nothing.

In summary

At least 28 days’ notice required

Agree date and sign booking form for Cambridge Marina

A superintendent registrar (the registrar who conducts the marriage)

A registrar of the registration district (where notice is given)

Two witnesses (to sign the contract)

Declaration and contracting words (vows)

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