The Civil Partnership Act meant that the registration of civil partnerships became legal in December 2005. They are not 'marriages' in the legal sense of the word, but legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships.
A civil partnership gives partners the same legal rights as a heterosexual married couple in respect of pension rights, house ownership, inheritance issues and making next-of-kin decisions in hospital.
The civil preliminaries must be complied with once the couple has chosen where they'd like the ceremony to be held. It can take place in any licensed venue in the UK, be it a register office, castle or hotel.
The law does not provide for a specific ceremony. The partners sign a document before the registrar and two witnesses; music, readings and vows can be included.
All choices will need to be approved by the registrar, and nothing may be of a religious nature.