The first visit to your vicar or priest should establish a whole host of parameters. You should take along your baptism certificates and you will have to fill in some forms.
The vicar will explain the church fees associated with the wedding and the system of reading the banns. Banns are usually called in the church on three consecutive Sundays. They are the public announcement of your intention to marry and must be called in both parishes if you and your fiance live in different places. In this case the vicar who is marrying you will need proof that the banns have been legally called in your fiance’s church. This takes the form of a certificate.
You can marry at any time within three months of the banns being read.
If you don’t want banns to be read, you can apply for a common licence. Your vicar will be able to give you details.
Roman Catholic weddings - like all those conducted outside the established Church of England - require a licence from the authorised registrar of the area.
Your first visit to the vicar or priest is also the time to establish the church’s policy on photographs or videos being taken inside the building, on whether any secular music is allowed and on the throwing of confetti within the church precincts.
If you have chosen to marry during a religious festival, your choice of flowers in church could be restricted, so be sure to establish this as early as possible.
The vicar or priest will also usually be prepared to give you information on other couples marrying on the same day so it may be possible to share the cost of the church flowers.
To marry at a register office or building approved for civil ceremonies, your first step is to contact the registrar and/or venue to confirm registrar and date are available.
Then both the bride and groom must each give notice of the wedding in person at the register office covering the area where they live (and where they have been in residence for at least seven days).
If you both live in the same district you should attend the register office together - but whether you do or not, ring your local office first as many now operate an appointments system (see under Registration Services for the register office in your area).
Each of you will have to produce evidence of your name, age, marital status and nationality - for example, a current valid full passport. If you don’t have one, you’ll need two documents - for example a birth certificate and utility bill.
If you have been married before, you’ll need evidence that you are now free to marry - for instance a decree absolute or former spouse’s death certificate.
Photocopies of any documents are not normally acceptable.
The fee for giving notice is £30 each and you must wait 15 clear days before the wedding.
In exceptional circumstances the Registrar General may consider waiving the waiting period.
A notice of marriage is valid for 12 months.
Ask your registrar about personalising the ceremony with your choice of words and music – but do remember that a civil ceremony can have no religious references and be sure to clear your selections well in advance of the day.
After a change in the law in 1994, over 3,000 venues throughout the country have become licensed to hold civil weddings. They range from hotels to stately homes, zoos to football clubs.
You still have to give notice of your intention to marry in the same way as you do for register office weddings and, in the same way, you can personalise the ceremony to suit yourselves although no religious music or readings are allowed.
Though this option costs more than a register office ceremony - you will have to pay for the hire of the room and it costs more to have the registrar travel to you - it is becoming increasingly popular as the trend away from church weddings continues.