How to Plan Your UK Destination Wedding – the legalities

6th November 2018

The UK is full of idyllic and picturesque locations to get married in. And getting married here are definitely the things dreams are made of. From castles to country houses to boutique hotels, quaint villages to vibrant cities, historical and contemporary spaces, plenty of choices abound as you plan your nuptials in these parts. The good news is that you can have a legal wedding here in the UK if coming from abroad, however getting married in the UK requires you to satisfy some paperwork in order to make your wedding legal .

However, before we get too carried away with dreams of grandeur, there are legal requirements to satisfy as you plan your UK destination wedding (that will make your wedding legal). It’s important to address these early on in your wedding planning so the rest of it can go a whole lot smoother for you.  I have listed the key points below: 

How to plan your UK destination wedding – the legalities

Get your marriage visa

Apply for your marriage visitor visa at least 3 months before you travel. Visa fees are from £87 each.

Notify the local registry office

You’ll have to give 28 days notice of your wedding at the local registry office of the county where you’re planning to marry and present evidence of your marriage visa.

You can get married in any UK wedding venue licensed for marriage ceremonies with your marriage visa and you must be at least 18 years of age to get a marriage visa.

If you are planning to get married in London and have a civil ceremony, provide contact details for registrar’s offices in each London borough. Do check it out. 

Get a marriage license

UK marriage license fees cost £35 per person (use a currency converter tool to calculate how much it is in your local currency, google converter is great!) You need to have been in the UK for at least 24 hours before getting married. You can have an outdoor wedding ceremony as long as your chosen venue is licensed for it.

UK Wedding

Confirm your identity

Contact the registrar office where you intend to get married for specific advice on what they will accept as proof of evidence of who you are. Your passport, birth certificate or travel documents will usually suffice but do check!

Get the SRC certificate – (for a Church of England wedding)

For those planning a religious wedding ceremony and coming from outside the UK to get married in the Church of England, you’ll need to get a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate (SRC) before going ahead.

To apply for the SRC, you and your fiancé must have been resident in the UK for seven days within the area before applying. Check the Church of England’s website for details on how to apply for this. Church of England weddings usually take place between 8 am – 6 pm daily, so perfect for morning, afternoon or early evening wedding ceremonies.

Civil Ceremony

To book a civil ceremony or your marriage / wedding, contact your local council – some have an online booking form you may need to complete and others may request you call them and they can email you a form. You can book your ceremony up to 2 years in advance. You need to pay the full fees for the ceremony at the time of booking along with an administration fee (usually £30 if your ceremony is within one year of booking. If your ceremony is more than one year out, you will be required to pay a substantial non-refundable deposit and then the balance to be paid one year before your wedding ceremony.

Ceremony booking fees usually changes with each new tax year (usually from the 1st of April) so check with the local authority of where you want to get married before booking. However, the fee that is applicable on the ceremony date will still apply.

It’s important that you have all the required documents and able to complete the legal notice requirements prior to booking your wedding ceremony otherwise you will forget your fees (if you do not) as they are non-refundable.

If you’re coming from abroad as an expat to get married in the UK, you need to give/make a legal declaration. You each to give this notice individually at your respective local authorities where you live or temporally reside. Check with your celebrant for more details.

Understanding the legalities of how to plan your UK destination wedding can be a maze so I hope these pointers have helped to clear things up for you. For more information on detailed requirements, visit the marriage page on the GOV.UK website.

If you’re planning your UK destination wedding and need expert guidance and help, then get in touch, let’s discuss where you’re at with your plans, I’d love to help!

Cynthia x

How to plan your destination wedding in the UK - the legalities

Header Image – Hannah Larkin Photography

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