Things to think about and do ... planning for your ceremony
What will happen on the day?
You can choose to have a statutory wedding or civil partnership ceremony at our Register Office which typically involves the two of you and two witnesses and up to two guests. Or you may choose to have an enhanced ceremony with us in the Bracknell Room, which can hold yourselves and up to 28 guests, or you can hold a larger ceremony at one of our approved venues. Think about what type of ceremony is right for you and check your guest numbers to work out which venue would be most suitable.
If you want to get married in your church or other place of worship please speak to them about arrangements as you may still need to book our services and a notice appointment with us.
If you are thinking about getting married abroad find more information on our getting married abroad page or visit www.gov.uk. You might consider a renewal of vows ceremony with us for family and friends who can't join you abroad.
Everyone’s ceremony is different and special and we will help to make it a very happy and personal occasion. Our checklist may help you plan for your big day.
What to do now ...
- Decide if you want a statutory or enhanced ceremony
- Check your chosen venue availability (we currently take bookings up to 12 months in advance)
- Check availability and book your local Registration Service (you may have to be flexible on time and date)
- Book your notice appointment to carry out the legal formalities at least 3 months before your big day, but we would recommend booking this up to 12 months ahead
Please check our fees table for deposits and charges for different venues and days. Before making a booking please ensure you have read our "How do we go about getting married" pages and terms and conditions.
Please take your time to read through your Marriage and Civil Partnership Ceremony pack (PDF, 547KB) as you will find lots of information within the pack to help you plan and personalise your enhanced ceremony. Here you will find suggested readings as well as helpful reminders to ensure that your day runs smoothly.
If you are having an enhanced ceremony you need to think about your choices for the day and you will need to complete your ceremony options form, which you will find in your marriage pack (PDF, 547KB), or in the documents section on this page (please ensure that you select the correct form as these differ slightly depending on whether you are getting married or holding your civil partnership in the Bracknell Room or an approved venue). This form should be completed and returned to the Register Office at least two weeks before your ceremony.
This lets us know:
- If you wish to see each other before the ceremony or enter the ceremony together
- Who will have special roles during your ceremony
- Which vows you would like to say
- If you would like to say our extra promises
- And tell us about any readings and music choices (some suggested music and readings are in your booklet)
If you are getting married in the Register Office, which is our smaller room, you do not need to complete this form. You will be seen together and we will guide to you throughout the vows and other required elements of your ceremony.
For all ceremonies you will need to ask two people, who may be friends or relatives, to witness your ceremony. They should be over the age of 16 and must be able to understand the ceremony. They will watch the ceremony and sign the register.
The music at your ceremony is a very personal matter and the choice is, of course, yours.
If you would like your own music played at the ceremony, this must be provided on one CD and should contain around 20 minutes worth of music. Due to legal constraints no religious music may be used.
The music is played as;
- Your guests are arriving
- For the bride and / or groom's entrance
- Whilst you sign the register and have a few photographs
- As you are leaving.
Please note it is not possible for us to locate particular tracks for specific parts of your ceremony apart from the bride and / or groom's entrance. If you have a particular track you would like to have played when you make your entrance, please ensure that this is the first track on your CD. We can then start the music from track two while your guests are being seated.
Any music you wish to provide should be at the Register Office at least seven days before the ceremony. If your ceremony is taking place in one of our approved venues, please discuss music arrangements directly with the venue, but please do list the tracks you will be using on the relevant ceremony choices form.
Your guests are very welcome to take photographs and film at specified times during the ceremony. We ask you to not use a flash to avoid disrupting your ceremony.
If you would like someone to film your ceremony please let the Registrar know, so that the best position may be pointed out. For safety reasons we cannot allow extra lighting and the recording equipment must run on batteries.
We have an attractive garden that can be used for further photo opportunities with the happy couple and guests.
Please remember that there may be other couples having ceremonies on the same day and to help us keep the ceremony room tidy we ask guests to wait until you are outside before showering you with confetti.
Arrival at the Register Office or venue
Consider parking arrangements and contact your venue for advice
It is important that you and your guests arrive at least 15 minutes before your ceremony to allow everything to run smoothly and allow us to attend to others booked on the same day.
You will be greeted by the ceremony staff for a brief meeting. This is essential to ensure all the information entered into the register will be correct. You will also be asked to confirm the information given on your notices. We will be happy to answer any last minute questions at this time. Please note that you do not need to bring any documentation with you on the day unless you have had a change of name since you gave notice of marriage, in which case you must bring the original change of name or deed poll document.
Witnesses will be asked how they write their signatures for your certificates (e.g. John Smith; JS; J Smith; J D Smith) and any key members of your party briefed.
Enhanced ceremonies begin with a short introduction and welcome,
The declaration of freedom to marry or enter into a civil partnership is made and after that
- Contracting words,
- exchange of rings
- any additional promises
- you and your witnesses will then sign the register or schedule.
Congratulations are made by all to the happy couple, you then receive your certificate and are free to enjoy the rest of your special celebration!
if you are having your ceremony at the registry office please remember we are a non-smoking site and have other customers attending appointments so ask for your consideration and co-operation.
Please check our fees table for deposits and charges for different venues and days. Before making a booking please ensure you have read our How do we go about getting married page and terms and conditions.
Last Updated: 14 July 2017