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Getting married – the legal bit

You’re engaged!

You’ve told friends and family, you’ve updated your SM status (not necessarily in that order, am I right?!) and you’ve popped the champagne.  You’re getting married – YAY!

You’ll be starting to look for venues, thinking about photographers, buying wedding magazines, diving into Pinterest (how many hours a day – who knew?).  But the thing people don’t mention is the boring legal stuff.  How to actually go about booking a legal wedding.

licensed venues

I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably looking to get married at the wedding venue rather than church.   We do have a few couples every year get married at a local church but I would guess 90% get married here at the venue.

If you’re looking to have a legal wedding, this post has got some important things you need to know:

can you get married anywhere?

Nope you can’t get married just anywhere in England.  There are different rules in Scotland – lots more options there.  In England you can only get married at a licensed venue.  That’s licensed by the local the County Council.

When a venue is licensed, it’s not the whole venue that’s licensed, it’ll be a ‘permanent covered structure’ somewhere at the venue.  So a building or some other structure.   That’s why you see some funny little band stands in the middle of a garden at some venues.  That’s their permanent covered structure.  Only the couple getting married and the Registrar need to be under the permanent covered structure during the ceremony.  All your guests can be outside – good to know they don’t all have to squeeze under that teeny band stand right?

We have 2 licensed structures here at Ever After.  The first is our wedding barn and the second is the glass roofed terrace which we use for our elopement weddings.

booking the Registrar

The venue can’t book the Registrar for you.  Only the couple getting married can do that.

There are 2 steps to booking your ceremony with the Registrar.   The first step is you have to book Tavistock registrars.  That’s the same wherever you book, the Registrars conducting your ceremony are the ones local to the venue, not to where you live.

To book Tavistock Registrars to come to the venue on your wedding day, you phone them and tell them your wedding date.  For £50 (which you can pay over the phone) they’ll guarantee to come here to carry out your ceremony on your wedding date.  Devon County Council have a central number to book the Registrar which is 0345 155 1002.   Sometimes you have to leave a message on their voicemail but they’re usually fairly good at returning calls.

When you phone Tavistock Registrars to reserve your date you HAVE to give them the time of your ceremony – they can’t take the booking otherwise.  So it’s essential you’ve worked out how your whole day will work so you can give the right time.  I know!  So even if you’re booking 2 to 3 years ahead, you still have to know what time you’re getting married otherwise they can’t book your date.

We’ve got a suggested timeline for your wedding day which you can download here.   That’s a timeline for our summer Saturdays.   It’s easy if you’re having a MMW wedding or an elopement because the ceremony time is fixed for both of those.  For MMW the ceremony time is 4pm and for elopement weddings (summer or winter) it’s midday.

bride & groom signing registerwhen should I book the Registrar?

You may think you’ve got ages to book the Registrars – what’s the rush.  Well if you’re getting married on a Tuesday in February, maybe there isn’t a rush.  But if you’re getting married on a Saturday in the summer, particularly the school holidays or a bank holiday weekend, the sooner you book your date with the Registrars, the better, like ASAP.  Not because the dates get booked up (although they do if you leave it too long) but because the best times on the best dates get booked up.  You don’t want to have your ceremony at a time that doesn’t suit you because you didn’t book the date in time – 9.30 am ceremony suit you?

what if you make a mistake or change your mind?

you can change the time or the date of your ceremony before you give notice of marriage just by calling the Registrars and giving them the new date or time.  It used to be you could change the time by paying an extra £10 but the fees have gone up and now to change either the time or the date you have to pay another £50 – sucks.

Bride & Groom ceremonygiving notice of marriage

The second stage to make sure the two of you will be legally married is you both have to go along to your local Registrars office in person to provide proof of residence and ID.   That can be done at any time in the 11 months before your wedding date and must be done at least 28 days before your wedding date.    So you can see you’ve got a window of 11 months to give notice.

This stage is not so time critical in the sense that your date is booked through Tavistock Registrar so that’s in the bag.  But if you don’t give legal notice of marriage – you can’t get married even if you booked Tavistock Registrars to come here.  The fee for giving notice is £35.  The Registrars charge extra if either of you is subject to immigration control or you have

The cost of the Registrars coming to the venue is £500 for a Saturday wedding, £475 for a mid-week wedding.  That fee is payable by you to the local Registrars, not to us.   That final balance is payable 3 months before your wedding date so make sure you budget for it.

There are things you might be wondering about a Registrars wedding like can we have music, can we write our own vows.  Are there any other dos and don’ts?   I’ll cover those in another post shortly so keep an eye out for that.