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Marriage Law in the United Kingdom & Scotland
These notes are for information only ~wedding-services~ UK
Updated: 02 December 2011 - should print out easily for future reference

This page outlines marriage regulations in England and Wales and makes brief reference to procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Further information can be obtained from the addresses listed below.

Marriage in England and Wales.

Advice and Information from

Marriage in Scotland
New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT Scotland Tel: (0131) 314 4447 Fax: (0131) 314 4400
e-mail :

Marriage in Eire

If you need to consult with a divorce solicitor then contact Beecham Peacock Solicitors, they have a team of some of the best Divorce Solicitors Newcastle offers. To speak with their family solicitors or divorce solicitors in Newcastle simply call in to one of their offices or contact them on 0191 2323048.



England & Wales ~ More English info.
Northern Ireland & Scotland below

Legal Formalities for Marriage
Unless you are marrying in the Church of England or Church in Wales by Banns or Common Licence, notice of marriage has to be given personally to your local superintendent registrar(s) at the Register Office in the district in which you and your partner reside. A notice of marriage states the names of the parties to the marriage, age, marital status, address, occupation nationality and the intended venue for the marriage. It is a legal document
covered by the Perjury Act 1911.

Both of you must have lived in a registration district in England or Wales for at least seven days immediately before giving notice at the register office. If you both live in the same district, you should both attend your local register office together to give your notices of marriage. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice separately in your respective district. After giving notice you must wait a further sixteen days before the marriage can take place, (for example, if notice is given on 1 July the marriage may take place on or after 17 July).

Your marriage cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed.

Notices of marriage must be given in person to the superintendent registrar by you and your partner. No one else can do so on your behalf.

Where an advance booking for a marriage has been made, it is essential that a formal notice is given to the superintendent registrar, once you are legally able to do so.

Registration Officers have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been arranged for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.

There are nationally set fees for giving notice to the superintendent registrar and the registrar's attendance at the marriage at a register office or religious building. However, the fee for the attendance of the superintendent registrar and registrar at a marriage in an approved premises (for example, at a hotel) is set by the local authority. The superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry will be able to provide you with details of the fees payable.

On the day of the wedding you will need to bring with you at least two other people who are prepared to witness the marriage and sign the marriage register.

If you wish to know more about marriage ceremonies at register offices or at approved premises please ask the superintendent registrar for details. While a marriage ceremony in the presence of a superintendent registrar cannot, by law, contain any religious aspects, it may be possible, with agreement, to include non-religious music and/or readings and for the wedding to be videoed.

This information is issued for general guidance and is not a complete statement of the law. For further information on any aspect of the formalities to, or the ceremony of marriage, please seek the advice of the
superintendent registrar at the local register office. The telephone number and address can be found in your local telephone directory under 'Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages'.

A notice of marriage is valid for twelve months. However, you may be able to make an advance (provisional) booking with the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. The superintendent registrar will be able to give you more precise information on this.

Preliminary Requirements
Two unmarried people of opposite sex and at least 18 years of age are free to marry, provided they are not closely related members of the same family. Persons between the ages of 16 and 18 may marry under the same conditions, but with the written consent of their parents or other lawful guardians (or, in the final instance, of an English court of law. If the parents or guardians are overseas, their signatures should be witnessed by a notary or consular officer).

When giving notice of marriage, proof of identity is required in the form of a passport or birth certificate. Those who have been previously married will be required to produce documentary evidence of the death of their former spouse or of the dissolution of the marriage, in the form of a certified copy of a death certificate or divorce decree.

Under the Marriage Act, 1994, which came into effect in 1995, a marriage may take place in a place of religious worship, register office or public premises officially registered for marriages by the Registrar General for England and Wales. Civil marriages may now therefore occur in "seemly and dignified venues," such as stately homes, civic buildings or hotels (but not open-air venues) which have been officially registered for the purpose. Lists of such premises are available from the register office in the area of interest.

Civil Ceremonies
One of the following certificates is required for marriage to take place in a register office (the office of a Superintendent Registrar), a building approved for civil marriages or a place of religious worship registered for the solemnisation of marriages by the Registrar General. Although a period of residence is required in the district of registration, the marriage may take place at a venue in a different part of the country if it is specified at the time of registration.

Superintendent Registrar's Certificate
Both parties are required to give notice and must have been resident in the district where notice is given for the seven preceding days. A period of 21 clear days must then pass before the Superintendent Registrar can issue the certificate, after which the marriage can take place any time within twelve months.


Superintendent Registrar's Certificate and Licence

Although only one party is required to give notice, both must be in England or Wales on the day it is given. One of the parties must have resided in the registration district for 15 days immediately preceding the giving of notice. The notice must also specify the building in which the marriage is to take place. One clear day must pass before the Registrar can issue the certificate and licence, after which the marriage may take place any time within the following twelve months.

Further information about these procedures can be obtained from: General Register Office, P.O. Box 2, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2JD Tel: (0151) 471 4448

Church of England Ceremonies
A Church of England marriage may be solemnised after either of the preliminaries listed below:

The Publication of Banns
Application for the publication of banns should be made to the clergyman of the parish in which each party is resident. Banns must be published on three consecutive Sundays, after which the couple are free to marry at any time within three months.
Common Licence
This procedure dispenses with the need to have banns published. One of the parties must sign an affidavit that there is no legal impediment to the marriage and that one of the parties has been resident in the parish where the marriage will take place for at least fifteen days prior to the licence being issued. The marriage may then take place at any time within the next twelve months.

N.B. Church authorities advise that marriage in a Church of England between two foreigners or between a foreigner and a British subject should be by licence and not after banns.

Further information is available from:

Enquiry Centre, Church of England, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ Tel: (0171) 222 9011

Marriage & Weddings Worldwide ~ Bishop Jonathan Blake
(B.A. Honours, Dip Pastoral Studies), provides a Traditional or Modern Marriage Ceremony, Religious or Secular, at any venue. Gardens, homes, hotels, chapels, stately homes, marquees, cruisers, etc - every detail is your choice. For first marriages and divorcees. Based Kent - UK wide Ask for # 319 - Enquire Here by E-mail

Other Religious Ceremonies

For marriages under Jewish and Quaker religious ceremonies, a certificate is required as for a civil ceremony. Information on marriage according to Roman Catholic, Jewish and Quaker usage can be obtained from the following addresses:

Catholic Marriage Advisory Council or ~ CIN ~ Catholic Information Network
Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, Clitheroe House, 1 Blythe Mews, Blythe Road, London W14 0NW
Tel: 0171 371 1341
British Humanist Association, The British Humanist Association
47 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8SP : 01235 512077
Chinese Wedding Traditions
Hindu Society, 673 Garret lane, London SW17 : 0181 944 0251
Short Hindu Wedding Ceremony Traditional Hindu wedding ceremonies can last for days and involve much ritual in Sanskrit which may be understood only by the priest conducting the service. This ceremony is considerably shorter and is intended to be understandable even to a non-Indian audience, making it suitable for intercultural or mixed Hindu/non-Hindu marriages.
Muslim Information Centre, 233 Seven Sisters Road, London : N4 2DA : 0171 272 5170

Church weddings
Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, PO Box 44, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxon OX11 8RT Tel: 01235 512077
Church of England Enquiry Centre Tel: 0171 898 1000
Episcopal Church of Scotland Tel: 0131 225 6357
General Register Office for Scotland 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN Tel: 0131 225 5722
General Synod of the Church of England Church House, Great Smith Street, London W14 ONW Tel: 0171 222 9011
Greek Orthodox Church Information Tel: 0171 723 4787
Jewish Marriage Council 23 Ravenhurst Ave, London NW4 4EE Tel: 0181 203 6311
Marriage Care Clitherow House,1 Blythe Mews, Blythew Road, London W14 ONW Tel: 0171 371 1341
Methodist Church Press Service 1 Central Buildings, Westminster, London SW1 9NH Tel: 0171 222 8010/ 0171 486 5502
Muslim Information Centre Tel: 0171 272 5170
Religious Society of Friends Friends House, 173/177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ Tel: 0171 663 1000
The Hindu Society Tel: 0181 534 8879
United Reformed Church, 86 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RT Tel: 0171 916 2020
Civil Weddings
British Humanist Association Tel: 0171 430 0908
General Registrar, Dublin Tel: 00 3531 671 1000
General Register Office for Northern Ireland Tel: 01232 252000
General Register Office for Scotland Tel: 0131 334 0380
The Register General for England and Wales OPCS, St. Catherine's House, 10 Kingsway London WC2B 6JP
Tel: 01704 569824 Tel: 0151 471 4817/4803
Registrar General for Guernsey Tel: 01481 725277
Superintenedent Registrar for Jersey Tel: 01534 502335

www.web Church org

Marriage Encounter Weekends

Men and Fathers Rights Every year 85,500 UK fathers have their children taken from them. Major assets are taken such as a house and car. They are fined annually and many are denied access to their children.

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ Tel: (0171) 387 3601 "Two people of the same sex may lawfully marry in California."
Those are the opening words of a proposed amendment to the California Constitution that our campaign intends to place on the November 2000 ballot. If adopted by the voters, the proposed Same-Sex Marriage Initiative will make California the first place in America to allow same-sex couples to share the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Scotland - - More Scottish info.

Can I get married in Scotland?

The Wedding Ceremony
Where to get married

Historically Scotland has always been a popular destination for those seeking a truly romantic setting in which to make their wedding vows. As a country Scotland is famous for its beautiful and unspoilt scenery, its distinctive culture and its dramatic history. In addition it is renowned for the high standard of its cuisine and the quality of its accommodation which ranges from bed and breakfasts to magnificent castles. Perhaps most importantly though, Scotland is famed for its hospitality and the genuine warmth of its people.

So, whether you are planning to 'run away' to Gretna for a small intimate wedding or to do something on a much larger scale, be it in a hotel or castle or even on a canal boat, Scotland offers endless possibilities to make that special day truly memorable.

In days gone by the law was such that in Scotland couples over the age of sixteen could marry (without parental consent) simply by declaring themselves man and wife in front of witnesses. However in 1940 an Act of Parliament ruled that marriages were only legal if conducted by a Minister of Religion or an authorised registrar.

Current law:
Prior residence in Scotland is not a pre-requisite to marriage minimum age remains sixteen both parties must be free to marry (ie any previous marriage must have been terminated by divorce, death or annulment) they must not be related to each other in any way which may impede them from marrying. Details of forbidden degrees of relationship are listed in the leaflet RM1 (Marriage in Scotland) which is available from any registrar of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland or from the Registrar General in Edinburgh (address page 4) both parties must be capable of understanding the nature of the ceremony and of giving free consent. The marriage would be regarded as valid in any foreign country to which either party belongs

The Wedding Ceremony
There are two types of wedding ceremony - religious and civil. A civil marriage, which is performed by a Registrar, can only be performed in a registry office. However, a religious ceremony performed by a minister can, theoretically, take place anywhere, either in or out-of-doors. It should be mentioned though that different churches and individual clergymen may have their own views on:

Couples should contact the minister concerned to ensure that he or she would be willing to carry out the ceremony should either of the above points be relevant.

Before a couple can marry both parties must submit a marriage notice along with the appropriate fee to the registrar for the district in which the marriage is to take place. These marriage notice forms are available from any registrar (whose address may be found in the telephone directory) or from the Registrar General in Edinburgh. Normally these should be submitted a minimum of fifteen days and a maximum of three months before the ceremony, however four weeks is the recommended period (or six weeks if either party has been married before). Along with the forms the registrar must also be supplied with:

The Registrar will check all documentation to satisfy himself that the parties are free to marry and then he will prepare the marriage schedule. This whole process normally takes about 14 days. In the case of a civil wedding the Registrar retains the schedule until the date of the wedding however if a religious marriage is intended the schedule is issued to the parties one or other of whom must collect it in person not more than seven days before the wedding. The schedule must be produced before the ceremony for the person performing the marriage who is then required to sign it, along with two witnesses over the age of sixteen. The Registrar then retains or must have the schedule returned to him within 3 days so that he can register the marriage. Where one of the parties lives in England or Wales and the other in Scotland, the former if she or he wishes may apply to the English or Welsh Superintendent Registrar for a certificate which the Scottish Registrar will accept in lieu of notice - this certificate should then be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

It is important to make arrangements for the date and time of the ceremony either with the Registrar or the Minister as early as possible, particularly if you wish to get married on dates such as St Valentine's Day or Christmas Eve which are very popular.

The above information is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a full and authoritative statement of the law. Further information and advice can be sought from any registrar in Scotland or from the Registrar General. For detailed information on hairdressers, photographers, dress hire, car hire, florists, etc. we would advise that you contact the local Tourist Information Centre who should be able to help.

Where to Get Married - Some Suggestions
Castles and Stately Homes
There are many castles, stately homes and historic sites throughout Scotland which would make an ideal setting for your wedding celebrations. The National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland can both provide lists of suitable venues in their care. There are also many privately-owned properties which can provide the facility. Please contact local Tourist Information Centres for information on such venues.

For a list of Tourist Information Centres contact the Central Information Department at the Scottish Tourist Board. Addresses and telephone numbers are provided further on.
Scottish Venues Hotels throughout Scotland
Most hotels throughout Scotland will be more than happy to host your wedding celebrations. Local Tourist Information Centres will be able to provide you with a comprehensive guide to hotels and other accommodation in their area.
Something Different
Theoretically there is nothing to stop you getting married anywhere in Scotland - on top of mountains, in a romantic glen or on a secluded beach, on Arthur's Seat in the heart of Edinburgh or even on the Old Sligachan Bridge on Skye. And of course at Gretna, where marriages are carried out by an official Registrar, and many couples then go on to the original blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green to participate in a traditional ceremony over the blacksmith's anvil.


In Scotland, people aged 16 or over do not require parental consent to marry, and there is no residence requirement as in England and Wales. Both parties should submit either in person or by post completed marriage notices (with the appropriate documents and fee) to the registrar for the registration district in which the marriage is to take place. The notices should preferably be lodged with the registrar about 4-6 weeks before the date of the proposed marriage, and certainly no later than 15 days before that date. This preliminary procedure applies both for religious and civil marriages. More details can be obtained from:

General Register Office for Scotland . . . . . .
New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT Scotland Tel: (0131) 314 4447 Fax: (0131) 314 4400
e-mail ???????:
There is no residential requirement to be married in Scotland. However, completed marriage notice forms and all relevant documentation must be returned to the registrar, in the district in which you plan to marry, at least 15 days prior to the proposed date of your wedding.
Please note that a civil marriage in Scotland can only be conducted in a registration office.
All relevant forms and information for marriage in Scotland as well as a list of all the registration offices who can conduct a civil marriage can be accessed and downloaded from our website at the following address Please scroll down until you find the questions on marriage in Scotland. The registrar will be pleased to answer any particular questions that you may have concerning your proposed marriage. I hope you find our website useful and interesting.
I want to get married in Scotland. How do I go about it?
There is some paperwork to be completed, and you will need to book a place, date and time.

Scottish Information Office : 0131 556 8400

General Register Office for Scotland
New Register House, 3 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Tel: 0131 334 0380 Fax: 0131 314 4400 e-mail:

The Registration Office
Central Avenue, Gretna, Dumfriesshire DG16 5AQ
Tel: 01461 337648 Fax: 01461 338459

Religious Organisations
Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN
Tel: 0131 225 5722 Fax: 0131 220 3113
Roman Catholic Church
Gillis Centre, 113 Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh EH9 1BB
Tel: 0131 452 8244 Fax: 0131 452 9153
Episcopal Church
General Synod, 21 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 5EE
Tel: 0131 225 6357 Fax: 0131 346 7247


Scottish online Churches
Official Church of Scotland 121 George St., Edinburgh : 0131 225 5722
www.web Church .org
Humanist Society of Scotland
Marriage Counselling Scotland, 105 Hanover St., Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
Kagyu Samye Ling site Eskdalemuir, Langholm, Dumfriesshire DG13 0QL Scotland
Tel: [+44] 13873 73232 Fax: [+44] 13873 73223
~ Scots Medieval Weddings ~ Based Dundee, Scotland will travel
Marriage Encounter Weekends David and Liz Percival, 11 Lamborne Close, Sandhurst Berks GU47 8JL 01344 779658

Northern Ireland - - More N.I. info

Parental consent is required for persons under 18 who wish to marry in Northern Ireland. For marriages in a registrar's office or those requiring authority of a registrar, prior residence is necessary on the part of both parties before notice of marriage may be served and there is a waiting period after notice has been served before the registrar may issue his authority for the marriage. In certain religious marriages it is not necessary to serve notice on a registrar but a period of residence may be necessary. Further information about marriage formalities in Northern Ireland is available from the following address:

General Register Office, Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4HL Northern Ireland
Tel: (01232) 252000 Eire Registration Office

General Register for Guernsey, The Greffe, Royal Court House, St. Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 2PB (01481 7252277)

General Registrar for Jesey, State's Offices, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey JE1 1DD (01534 502000)

Please note: All foreigners wishing to be married in Britain are warned against marriage agents who claim the ability to procure marriages quickly without the necessary statutory residence. Any person making a false statement as to residence or any other particular contained in a notice of marriage is liable to prosecution for perjury.

Questions to ask each other before your marriage

Now go and organise your Wedding ~ Good Luck

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