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The Practicalities of Planning Your Civil Wedding Ceremony



After the excitement of getting engaged, setting out to plan your wedding or civil partnership day can be daunting. Here are a few hints and tips to help you create your big day.


The Foundations

Fix a budget before you start. Nearly all wedding service providers, from venues to photographers, publish their prices on their websites. As you come to plan each part of your wedding day a little bit of early research will allow you to exclude things outside your price range.


The Venues

Where you get married:

The first priority is to identify and book the venue for your civil legal marriage (or civil partnership). This will either be at a register office, or a venue licensed to hold marriages and civil partnerships (“licensed venue”). If you plan to get married in a licensed venue, check whether they will book the registrar for you or whether you need to do this yourself. [Remember if you are going to have a registrar office 2 + 2 legal marriage appointment with a later celebrant wedding ceremony, the venue for this ceremony does not need to be licensed.]

How long you have to wait for your big day will depend on the availability of the venue you want. If you can be flexible about the day of the week you want your ceremony and the time of year, you can speed things up and often save money.


Where you have your Wedding Reception:

With most licensed venues your wedding reception will be provided on-site. If you are having a register office marriage (either a full ceremony or the short appointment) you will need to book a suitable venue for your wedding reception. Do not delay on this if you want to secure your first choice. Remember you have a wider choice because you do not need the venue to be licensed so this might open up some places you had not considered.


The Legal Notice

When you give notice of marriage at your local register office you must know your date and place of your marriage (and that your registrar is booked). This notice is a legal requirement and must be done at least 28 days before your civil marriage. You can do this earlier as the notice is valid for 12 months.


Your Wedding Celebrant

It takes time to plan your personalised wedding ceremony with a celebrant. So, if you are having a celebrant wedding ceremony make sure you book a celebrant well in advance. Sometimes it is possible to find a celebrant at short notice, but many have full diaries months ahead, especially during the peak summer months.


The Building Blocks

Once you have your foundations in place, you can start putting together the other major components for your fabulous day:

  • Caterers (if not part of your venue’s package).

  • Photographers and Videographers.

  • Wedding Cake.

  • Flowers.

  • Music / DJ.

  • Bridal wear and Groom’s wear.

  • Hair and make-up.

Because of the backlog caused by Covid-19 many wedding service providers are booked up much further in advance than they used to be. So as a general rule of thumb, check availability as soon as possible. Once you have secured your booking the detailed planning can take place at the normal sort of pace. This should help to make the detailed planning much more enjoyable.


Wedding Fayres usually take place in the spring and autumn. They are an excellent way to see a range of local wedding suppliers showcasing their businesses. Many venues hold their own wedding fayres. This gives you the chance to meet the events staff and see the venue dressed for a wedding.

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