Preliminaries

'Giving notice' is the term used to describe the commencement of civil marriage proceedings

The couple must give notice, in person, to the superintendent registrar in the district in which they live (this is a legal requirement). If they live in different registration districts, they must give notice separately in each district, or visit their local register office together.

They must also give notice, in person, to the superintendent registrar in the district in which the marriage is due to take place.

Forms are then sent to the couple, who must sign and return them enclosing all relevant documentation, such as birth certificates, death certificates or divorce decree absolutes for the widowed/divorced, and identification, including proof of nationality.

English and Welsh civil marriage laws apply equally to both UK and overseas citizens, but for the latter some additional documentation will need to be supplied.

After giving notice, 15 clear days must then pass before the marriage can take place.
It is best to give four to six weeks' notice if possible and, if either party has been married previously, six weeks is the compulsory notice period.

The notice of marriage is valid for 12 months, but it is sometimes possible to make an advance booking to extend this period.

Both the bride and groom must have lived in a registration district in England, Wales or Scotland for at least seven days prior to giving notice at the register office. As long as one person is resident in England and Wales, the other person may also give notice of marriage in Scotland.

Provided the person they intend to marry is resident in England and Wales, officers, seamen or marines on board one of Her Majesty's ships at sea can give notice to the captain or other officer commanding the ship.

Usually, there is a wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding.

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