Marriage and civil partnerships - Overview

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Old Town Hall - ceremonies and formations

At Old Town Hall, the couple and up to 76 other persons (two of which must be witnesses) are able to attend ceremonies or formation. Photographers / videographers must be included in this number too. No other persons, including babies and children, will be permitted in the building. 

Bedford Register Office - ceremonies and formations

At Bedford Register Office only the couple and the two witnesses are able to attend. No other persons, including babies and children will be permitted in the building.

Marriage certificates update

New marriage legislation introduced in England on 4 May 2021 means that the way a marriage is registered has changed.

Marriage registers are no longer used, instead, a central electronic registration system is now the legal register.

A marriage certificate will only be issued after the details have been entered on to the electronic marriage register. This means that you will not be able to obtain a marriage certificate on the day of your marriage. This applies whether you marry in a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony.

Your marriage details will be entered onto the electronic registration register within 7 days of your signed Marriage Schedule being received at the register office, in the area where you got married.  It may take up to 21 days for your schedule to be received at our offices.

If you have paid for certificates already we will post them to you shortly thereafter.

If you have not paid for certificates, please order your marriage or civil partnership certificates copies here.

Choose a venue

You must know where you wish to be married/ form civil partnership before you can book a ceremony with the Registration Service. 

Book a Registrar

To book a Registrar to attend your chosen venue and officiate at your ceremony you must contact the Superintendent Registrar for the district where the ceremony is to take place.

How much will it cost?

Give notice

Once you have booked your ceremony/formation with both the venue (if applicable) and the Registrars for the district where the ceremony/formation is to take place you will need to complete the legal preliminaries of giving “Notice of Marriage/Civil Partnership”.

Your “Notices” must be given to the Specified Registration District where you each live. “Notice of Marriage/Civil Partnership” must be given in person and by appointment only.

  • We cannot take your notice if you fail to produce the documents/information required.
  • All documents must be ORIGINAL and not photocopies or printed from online services.
  • If not in English, a translation must be provided signed and dated by the translator with their contact details (name, address and telephone number) .
  • You can  find further information about giving notice here.

Ceremony pack 

A Civil Ceremony is, by law, non-religious therefore no religious content whatsoever is permitted.

We will send you a ceremony pack containing important information, our “Terms and Conditions” and a guide on photography.

For couples wishing to marry or form a civil partnership it will also contain a checklist. A civil partnership may be formed without any form of ceremony.  A marriage ceremony requires the repeating after the Superintendent Registrar of legal declaratory and contracting vows, options of which are contained in the ceremony pack.

An appointment may be booked, for a fee, to discuss your ceremony requirements. 

Getting married abroad

It is your responsibility to check that you have met all of the legal requirements to be married or form a civil partnership abroad. We recommend that you make enquiries with the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which you wish to be married or form a civil partnership in the first instance. They should be able to advise you of the conditions you will need to meet.

Find out more GOV.UK's getting married abroad

In some circumstances a document will be required however this is sometimes obtainable from a solicitor. If you have been advised to obtain a document from the registrars you will need to make an appointment with a Registrar. 

If you have been advised that an “Apostille” will also be required, for further advice please visit GOV.UK's getting your document legalised.

Further information