Congratulations! You have made the decision to marry or enter into a civil partnership. Here is all the legal information you need to know.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Booking a venue and a registrar
- 2. Give Notice of marriage or civil partnership
- 3. Documents required to give notice
- 4. Make an appointment to give notice
- 5. Next steps for getting married/entering into a civil partnership
- 6. The Ceremony
- 7. Converting a civil partnership to a marriage
1. Booking a venue and a registrar
You must have decided on the venue for your wedding or civil partnership before you attend Lambeth Register Office to give your notice.
It is required for you to name the venue where your ceremony will take place, when you give notice of your marriage or civl partnership.
Therefore you will need to contact the venue where you wish to get married or enter into a civil partnership and make a provisional booking for your chosen date.
You can have a civil ceremony at:
- A registry office
- Any venue approved by the local council for example a stately home or hotel. See our approved venues
- A church, chapel or other religious buildings
In most circumstances you will need to book a registrar to attend your ceremony. To confirm the availability of a registrar once you have a provisional booking with your venue please contact us. After this you can book an appointment to give notice of your intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the district in which you live. A notice of marriage or civil partnership is valid for 1 year, but it is advisable that you book a venue as early as possible, many approved premises and religious buildings do get booked quickly, particularly if you are hoping for a specific date.
Please see below for further information on the venues that require a registrar
Lambeth Registry Office
If you are planning on holding your ceremony at Lambeth registry office, and will be giving notice of marriage at Lambeth. You do not need to contact us separately to book your ceremony. When you come into give notice of marriage or civil partnership, you will be able to arrange a booking for your ceremony.
Once you have made a provisional booking with your venue. You will need to confirm with the Superintendent Registrar that a registration officer will be available on that day and time for the ceremony. It is essential you agree the date and time with both the Superintendant registrar and the venue before making any other arrangements. Once the venue and registrar for the day has been confirmed, you will be able to book an appointment to give notice
Church of England
If you wish to get married in the Church of England generally you will only be able to do so if you or your partner live in the parish. You should first speak to the vicar to arrange a date for your ceremony, and they will be able to advise of any necessary steps.
If he/she is able to marry you, they will arrange for Banns to be called on three Sundays before the day of your ceremony or for a common license to be issued and there is normally no need to involve the Superintendant Registrar. If either individual getting married is not from the European Economic Area or Switzerland they will need to give notice at the Register office.
Other Religious Buildings
If you are planning on any other religious wedding you must first have the permission of the minister or governing body before you can make other arrangements. The minister, priest, imam or other person in charge, will be able to advise on what you need to do to arrange a ceremony and give notice. In some locations, you will require the attendance of a registrar at the wedding whereas in other locations there will be an authorised person that will be able to perform the ceremony and register the marriage.
You will be required to give notice of your marriage with your local registrar office, once you have arranged a date for your ceremony.
If you need a registrar from our office to attend the ceremony you must book this with us as far in advance as possible. By contacting us online providing full details of your provisional booking
2. Give Notice of marriage or civil partnership
You can give notice up to 12 months before your ceremony date. We recommend that you do it at least three months before your ceremony. You must give notice in the local authority district where you live.
You will need to provide the venue your ceremony will be taking place at when you give notice. Therefore it is important that you have booked your venue, and ensured a registrar is available on the date.
If you provide the incorrect venue or you venue changes after you have given notice. You will need to rebook and pay for a second appointment to give notice.
How much notice do I need to give
- There is a minimum of 28 days notice period
- For individuals subject to immigration controls the waiting period may be extended by the Home Office to 70 days.
- Couples where either one or both are subject to immigration control and wish to marry in the Church of England or Church in Wales will be required to give notice of marriage at a designated register office
- Non-EEA nationals will also be required to bring a recent passport style and picture
It is therefore very important to allow plenty of time to complete the legal preliminaries before the ceremony is due to take place.
Where to give notice
You must give notice in the local authority district in which live. If either of you live in another district you must give notice at both local register offices.
You can give notice at Lambeth Register Office, but can get married/enter into a civil partnership at any Register Office or Approved Premises of your choice in England and Wales.
If one or both of you are non-EU citizens then you will each need to give notice to the Superintendent Registrar of a designated Register Office.
Lambeth Register Office is a designated register office
Living in Lambeth
To give your notice of intention to marry/enter into a civil partnership, you must have lived in Lambeth for 7 clear days before the notice is given.
The notice can only be given on the 8th day. If one or both of you live elsewhere, you will need to give notice in person at the Register Office in the district where you live.
For example, if you have just moved in to a property or arrived into the country on 1 June your 7 days only start on 2 June Your 7 days will be complete on 8 June and you will give your notice on 9 June
3. Documents required to give notice
At the interview when are giving your notice, you will be asked to give us:
- information about yourself and your partner
- proof of your current address
- proof of your name, age and nationality
- If you are a non-EEA national a recent passport style photograph
- If you have been previously married or registered as a civil partner - proof that you are legally free to marry or form a civil partnership. All documents provided must be originals and not photocopies and need to be current.
We will not be able to take the notice if any of the following are not provided. Please ensure all evidence you bring are original documents:
Proof of name, age and nationality
- Valid passport (British, EEA and Foreign Nationals)
- EEA identity card
- Full birth certificate (accepted only for British nationals born before 1983)
- Home Office travel document
Certificate of Naturalisation (this needs to be provided if you have become a British citizen)
If known by any other name, you will need to provide evidence in the form of:
- Change of name deed
- Statutory declaration of change of name
- Deed poll document
Proof of residence – two proof of address for EACH individual of your current address is required. We will ONLY accept the following:
- Credit card statement (not older than one month)
- Original bank/building society statement (not older than one month)
- Internet bank statement (not older than one month and must be endorsed by the bank)
- Original mortgage statement (most recent)
- Council Tax statement (current year)
- Full valid UK driver’s licence
Please note your council tax statement can only be used as proof of residence for one individual.
If you've been divorced or widowed
If you have been married or in a civil partnership previously, you need to take either:
- A decree absolute or final order
- The death certificate of your former partner
- A foreign divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country it took place. Original documents are required, along with certified English translation. The documents may need to be referred to the General Register Office (GRO) for approval. Your ceremony will not be able to take place unless these this has been approved by the GRO.
As of 1 November, the General Register Office has introduced new charges for some of our services. If you have been divorced the following fees will apply:
- Consideration of divorce / civil partnership dissolution documentation outside the British Isles by the superintendent registrar - £50
- Consideration of divorce/civil partnership dissolution outside the British Isles documentation where this cannot be dealt with by the LRS and has to be referred to the General Register Office - £75
Passport style Photograph for non-EEA nationals
For any couples who are subject to immigration controls it is a legal requirement for each individual to provide a passport style photograph. * Must clearly show the face of the person – no other person or object should be present * Neutral expression * Not have anything covering his/her head or hair (other than for religious reason or medical reasons) * Must be recently taken to reflect current likeness of the individual * Photos that have been cut down from larger pictures will not be accepted
If either of you is under 18, we will need your parents or guardian’s consent to the marriage/civil partnership. If your parents are divorced we may need to see court orders. The Superintendent Registrar can advise you.
4. Make an appointment to give notice
You will need to make an appointment to give notice of your intention to marry/enter into a civil partnership. If you live in Lambeth this should be done at the Lambeth Register Office. Where an individual does not live in Lambeth they will need to give notice at their Local Register Office.
You need to give notice at least 28 days before you intend to get married. We recommend you do this as early as possible your notice will be valid for 1 year.
We offer appointments from 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday. The Register Office is closed on the first Wednesday of each month until 1pm.
The statutory fee for giving notice of marriage/civil partnership is £35 per person or £47.00 per person if one or both parties are subject to immigration control which is payable on the day the notice is given.
You can pay by cash, postal order, debit or credit card except for American Express.
5. Next steps for getting married/entering into a civil partnership
Once you have had your interview with the Superintendent Registrar and given your notice, your notice will be displayed for 28 days from when both parties gave notice or 70 days if one or both parties are subject to immigration control. The notice will be displayed in a folder where members of the public can see it. This is a legal requirement.
After 28 or 70 days, we will issue ‘certificates of authority’ which are required for a legal marriage/civil partnership. This is subject to clearance of all documents. Once you have recieved a 'certificate of authority' your marriage or civil partnership ceremony will be legally able to take place.
Please note if you have a foreign divorce, you will need to wait for divorce documentation to be approved by the General Register Office before you can get married. We therefore advise you give notice as far in advance as possible.
For example, if you both give notice on 1 June the earliest date you can get married is 30 June However if you are subject to immigration control and referred to the Home Office and you both give notice on 1 June the earliest date you can get married is 11 August
6. The Ceremony
As part of the ceremony, formal wording must be exchanged if you are getting married. However additional wording can be discussed with the individual conducting your ceremony.
A religious ceremony will include wording set out by the individual conducting the ceremony, specific hymns and prayers can usually be selected by the couple.
A civil marriage ceremony must include the following wording (or a variation of): I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I [name] may not be joined in matrimony to [name].
The contracting words are the legal words that marry you and these feature towards the end of the ceremony. I call upon these persons here present, to witness that I [name] do take thee [name] to be my lawful wedded wife / wife-husband / husband.
Civil ceremonies can also include readings, songs or music, but must not include anything that’s religious, eg hymns or readings from the Bible.
There is no legal requirement to exchange vows for a civil partnership, many couples will choose to. The vows can be discussed with the individual conducting the ceremony
Signing the Register
You, your partner and your 2 witnesses must sign the marriage register or civil partnership document.
Witnesses can be relatives or friends, but it is not a legal requirement that they are known to you. They are not required to bring identification, and we do not need to know who they are in advance. Your witnesses must be over 18 years of age and able to speak and understand English. If either of you require an interpreter this person must also act as a witness. They must be present for the entire ceremony. Unfortunately, the Registration Officers cannot act as witnesses or provide witnesses for you.
Recording your Father's / Parent's details
If you are being married. You will be asked for your natural Father's full name and occupation. These details will be recorded in the marriage register and on your certificates. Your Mother's details are not recorded.
If you are forming a civil partnership. You will be asked for your Mother's full name and occupation, and your natural Father's full name and occupation. These details will be recorded on the civil partnership schedule and on your certificates.
7. Converting a civil partnership to a marriage
Civil partners have the choice of a simple conversion or a conversion with a renewal of vows ceremony. The civil partnership must have been registered in England and Wales or overseas in consulate or armed forces base, where the civil partnership was registered according to the laws of England and Wales.
All existing civil partners wishing to convert to a marriage, will have to pay a fee of £45 for a conversion, plus £4 for each certificate.
- You will need to book an appointment, and both individuals must attend in person at the register office
- You will need to provide proof of identity (eg. passport) and current address and your current civil partnership registration certificate
You will be asked to sign a declaration to confirm:
- You have not dissolved your civil partnership
- You both wish to convert your civil partnership The declaration must be signed at the register office
Conversion and Ceremony
- You will need to book an appointment, in person at a register office, and both individuals must attend in person
- You will need to provide proof of identity (eg. passport) and your current address and civil partnership registration certificate
The declaration will be signed, on a seperate occassion, at an approved venue or religious building which has been registered for marriages of same sex - A member of staff (superintendent / deputy registrar) from the register office will be required to attend the ceremony - The conversion will be registered with the Register Office and a marriage certificate issued.
If you are having a ceremony, you will need to pay ceremony fees plus the conversion fee of £45 There will be a fee of £4 for each certificate.
Conversion appointment For appointments please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. You will need to provide the following information:
- First name and surname of the couples
- When & where did you register your civil partnership
- An email address
- A contact number
- If possible, indicate your preferred option Conversion or Conversion and Ceremony
We aim to get back in contact with you within 5 working days to arrange an appointment.