Making it legal

So, you are having your dream wedding, led by an experienced Celebrant, and you are excited and satisfied knowing that your ceremony will be where you want it, when you want it and totally right for you.

You haven’t had to make any compromises on content, you don’t have to say words like ‘solemn’ or ‘impediment’ and there’s no legal jargon in sight!


To make your partnership legal (a marriage or civil partnership), all you have to do is head to your local registry office and spend half an hour signing some papers and saying two legally-binding phrases before two witnesses and a Registrar.

This can happen anytime before or after your ceremony day; many couples choose the day before but it is entirely up to you.

You can find out where your local registry office is by searching your local council’s website. They should then provide you with all the information you need to get the deed done with minimal fuss.

The cost of this process is in the region of £50 depending on the council.


Don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t want a big performance!

If you are choosing to visit them just for the paperwork then you need only yourselves and two witnesses who are over 16yrs old. The ‘script’ the Registrar uses only needs to include the ‘Declatory’ and ‘Contracting’ phrases to make the marriage legal. Some have more experience with this request that other, but all will do as you request; so be bold and ask for what you want!

Alternatively, if you want to take more family and friends along, and make it a little more formal, you could choose to keep some of the other sections of the script in.

How much you choose to include is usually decided in advance (via a written form in the post) and reaffirmed verbally on the day with the Registrar before you begin.


Once that’s done you look forward to or look back on the ceremony you’ve always wanted; one that is nothing to do with the law and everything to do with love.


© Matt Thompson