We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the ceremonies you can enjoy in Gloucestershire.
If your question or enquiry is not listed here please contact Gloucestershire Registration Service who will be able to help you.
General ceremony questions
How can we get in touch with the ceremony team?
We have a dedicated team of ceremony coordinators who are based at our office in Cheltenham. You can contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. or you can also contact us by phone on 01452 425060 (option 3). Monday- Friday 8.30-4.30pm. Please allow 10-15 minutes when telephoning to make a ceremony booking.
Where can we have our ceremony?
You can have your ceremony at any of our registration offices or approved venues within Gloucestershire. Please visit the Venues section on this website.
How much do I have to pay for my ceremony?
A list of current fees are displayed on this website – please see our ‘Ceremony fees’ page.
Our fees are subject to review in April of each year.
How do I make payment?
To make payment, please visit our 'Make a Payment page'. Alternatively you can pay in person at our Cheltenham Office. (Gloucestershire Registration Service, St Georges Road, Cheltenham, GL50 3EW).
Please note: payment must be made in full. There is no facility for part-payment to be accepted.
How do I cancel my ceremony?
All cancellations must be in writing by emailing us from the same email address that you used at the time of you booking your ceremony. Please note, you are unable to postpone. You will either need to amend your ceremony (fees apply) or email us to cancel your ceremony booking.
Please read our terms and conditions.
Weddings & civil partnerships
We are looking to get married but we are not sure if we want a large ceremony or just something very quiet involving the two of us. What are our options?
The standard service we offer is called a statutory registration. This is for you and your partner and two witnesses only, at Gloucester Register office. (No other guests, dependents or minors however young are able to attend this ceremony) It is the minimum registration you need to be legally married. Please note there will not be a ring exchange, photos or music.
Alternatively, you can choose to have an enhanced ceremony at an approved licensed venue, or at our Gloucester, Stroud or Cinderford Register Offices, which will include all the legal formalities to ensure that you are married, but will also be a celebration and an opportunity to involve your family and friends. The ceremony can include personal touches and enhancements, such as music, readings, exchange of rings, as well as the opportunity for photographs.
We work with you to create your own individual ceremony. Our ceremony team are on hand to provide support and help you create the ceremony of your dreams.
Please check with the venue whether confetti may be used. If you are getting married in one of our register offices, please be aware that all confetti must be biodegradable and cannot be thrown in the building or its immediate surroundings
How do I book a wedding or civil partnership at an approved venue?
Contact your chosen venue directly. When you have booked the venue please then telephone the ceremony team on 01452 425060 (option 3) / Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 4.30pm. Registration Officers will be required to attend your ceremony so it is important to contact us as early as possible to ensure they are available on the date you would like. Please note that booking with us can take 10-15 minutes over the phone.
What do I need to give notice?
You must each give formal notice of your intention to marry or form a civil partnership, in person at a registration office in the district where you live. You are required to have lived in the district for at least eight days before giving notice.
When you attend a Registration Office to give notice of marriage or civil partnership, you will need to produce certain original documents to confirm your name, age, marital status and nationality.
- full birth certificate or
- evidence of nationality - your valid passport
- if you were born after 01.01.1983 and you do not hold a passport you will, in addition to your own full birth certificate, need your mother’s birth certificate or passport
- evidence of address - council tax bill (for the current year), utility bill (dated within the last 3 months), bank statement (dated within 1 month), valid photo driving licence
- evidence of change of name (deed poll/statutory declaration)
- fee payable per person
If either of you are not a British Citizen or National of a country within the European Economic Area, you will need to attend together at a designated registration office for which additional information will be required at the notice appointment.
If either of you have been married or entered in to a civil partnership before you will need to bring one of the documents listed below as evidence that the marriage/civil partnership has ended and that you are free to marry:
- decree absolute following divorce
- decree of dissolution of civil partnership
- death certificate if a widow/widower/surviving civil partner
- decree of annulment
What time can we have our ceremony?
Gloucestershire Registration Service has welcomed the opportunity to offer couples ceremonies at approved venues from 8am to 8pm throughout the year. Our ceremonies team are happy to discuss individual requirements outside of these times.
I don't live in Gloucestershire but we want to have our ceremony there. What do I need to do?
When you have decided on your venue, please telephone us on 01452 425060 (option 3) to check the Registration Officer's availability on the date you would like. We will make you a provisional booking and then ask you to give notice of your intention to marry at your local registration office in the district where you both live. The ceremonies team who make your booking will explain the procedure to you.
Do we have to have our banns read?
If you are having a civil ceremony at a registration office or at an approved venue, you do not have your banns read as you will both give notice of marriage. It’s mainly Church of England churches where banns are read.
May we have a religious blessing after the ceremony?
Civil ceremonies in approved premises may be followed by a celebration, commemoration or blessing of the parties’ choice, providing that it is not a religious ceremony and is separate from the civil ceremony. A civil ceremony commences with the registration officer’s questioning of the parties and concludes with the departure of the registration officers. There must, therefore, be a clear break between the civil ceremony and any other proceedings. No such proceedings should take place before the civil marriage ceremony.
I am under 18 years old. What do I need to do?
You will need to obtain parental permission to marry. When making your booking, please inform the ceremonies team who will forward you the relevant parental permission forms to be signed.
Do we have to have witnesses and who can the witnesses be?
By law, you need two witnesses. Gloucestershire Registration Service policy states that witnesses should be 18 years or over and capable of understanding the events that have taken place. Please note members of the registration service cannot act as witnesses. Please phone or email us if you require further clarification on this.
Can we write our own vows?
By law, you need to choose declaratory and contractual words of marriage from the options listed within the ceremony choices. But you can replace the promises with your own words. We will need to know the words you will be saying to each other, and you will either need to learn them or have them written on paper for the day.
Can I get married outside?
Yes you can. A number of venues in Gloucestershire offer this option and have licenced outside structures.
As of the 1st July the government has amended the law allowing civil ceremonies to be conducted outside (up until 4th April 2022). If your venue does not have a previously licensed outside structure (or you wish to get married outside but not in their licensed structure) please get in contact with your venue to see if they offer this.
Can we have religious music/readings?
No. The law states that civil marriage ceremonies must not be religious in nature and any inclusion (reading, music etc) must be essentially non-religious in context. No civil marriage ceremony should include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or readings from sacred religious texts, hymns or other religious chants, involve any religious rituals or any form of worship.
Can I get married in my own garden?
Currently you are unable to marry in your own garden. However there are options for marrying at venues which have an outside structure licensed. Please contact our ceremonies team on email@example.com or telephone 01452 425060 (option 3), to talk through the options.
How much do I have to pay for my ceremony?
A list of current fees are displayed on this website – please see our ‘Ceremony fees’ page.
Our fees are subject to review in April of each year and couples are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure they pay the correct fee at least 2 months before their ceremony as there will be no facility to take payment on the actual day. The fee you pay will be applicable to the year in which you are marrying.
When do I need to submit my choices form and pay my balance?
Choices should be submitted at least 2 months prior to the ceremony to enable your personalised script to be produced. The ceremony fee must be paid at least 2 calendar months before the date of your ceremony. In the case of bookings made within 2 months of the proposed date full payment is required at the time of booking.
I have paid and sent in my choices - will you write or telephone to confirm you have everything and there is nothing outstanding we need to produce?
When we have received everything we need, we will send you a courtesy email to inform you that we have everything and that we will meet you both on the day.
I have sent in my choices, but I need to change my witnesses and/or photographer’s name. How do I do this?
You will meet the Registration Officers on the day, before the ceremony is due to start. This is when you can tell us of any changes of witnesses, photographers etc.
Can I change my reading once I have submitted my choices form?
Yes, you can change your readings but we will need to approve any changes. Please email the changes to firstname.lastname@example.org, unfortunately we cannot guarantee to accommodate last minute changes. Please include your names and booking reference number on any correspondence.
Can I change the date, time and venue after I have made the booking?
Please note that a fee of £50.00 will be charged for any changes to the date, time or venue of your ceremony or £70.00 if the amendment is made within 2 weeks or less of the ceremony date. Please note that if you change your venue you will also need to give notice again at the cost of £35 per person. We are unable to postpone a ceremony and you will either need to cancel or make an amendment to the booking.
Cancellation: All cancellations must be confirmed in writing by emailing us from the same email address that you used at the time of you booking your ceremony. Please read our terms & conditions.
You may wish to consider taking out an appropriate insurance policy in case your ceremony has to be cancelled or postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
What photos and videos can be taken?
Gloucestershire Registration Service recognises the importance of photographs which capture the moment and serve as a lasting memory of a couple's special day and will work with an official photographer (or one member of the party who is not a witness, if there is no official photographer) to ensure, where possible, the wishes of the couple are accommodated.
It must always be remembered, however, that the ceremony creates a solemn and binding contract between the couple and it is essential that their attention should not be distracted in any way from the meaning and dignity of the occasion.
If you would like someone to take a video of your ceremony they will need to comply with the following guidelines:
- Video recording is by prior agreement with the Registration Service
- Only one video camera may be used during the ceremony
- The equipment must be battery operated. We cannot provide a power source for any video equipment
- The recording may only be made using the lighting available in the room
- The camera operator must remain in one place throughout the ceremony as agreed with the Registrar at the ceremony and not focused on the register
- These guidelines may vary slightly at approved venues
Photography and video policy
Guidance on the taking of photos and videos at wedding and civil partnership ceremonies
How many pieces of music am I allowed?
There are appropriate points in the ceremony for music to be played:
- Prior to the start of the ceremony we suggest that you choose enough songs to be played whilst your guests are settling themselves in the ceremony room
- As you enter the ceremony room, please bear in mind that any music chosen will only be played for around 30 seconds so one track is sufficient.
- Whilst signing the register, we suggest around 3 – 4 songs depending on whether you wish to have photographs taken with a blank register at this point.
- For the couple’s exit, as with the entrance the music will only be played briefly for your walk down the aisle, so please choose just one track.
Do I need to tell you my music choices for my ceremony?
When submitting your ceremony choices, please ensure you tick the box that confirms you are not having any religious music during your ceremony. You do not need to inform us of each track, but it is very important you tick the box to confirm you will not be having any religious music played.
Please note that any music must by law be non-religious and seemly and dignified to reflect the solemnity of the occasion.
If you are marrying in one our Register Offices, you will need to provide your music. Please bring your music on the day of your ceremony on a digital device, such as an mp3 player, tablet, mobile phone, or similar. You will also need to bring a wireless speaker. You will need to nominate a guest to be responsible for operating your device. Please note devices cannot be plugged in.
If you are marrying at one of our approved premises, please contact your venue to arrange the playing of the approved music.
Why do we need to meet the registration officer before the ceremony is due to start?
The couple are seen privately and separately to check the details which are to be entered into the marriage register. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any last minute questions you may have and put you at your ease.
When these formalities are completed you will be invited to join your guests and the ceremony will begin.
You may choose to enter the ceremony room together as a couple, or opt for a more traditional entrance being escorted into the room by a relative or friend.
Do we need to bring any ID with us on the day?
No: All legalities and preparations for the ceremony would have been completed prior to your big day. Which means on the day itself all you have to think about is arriving in good time and having a wonderful day!
What happens if I am late for my ceremony?
Whilst some say that it is tradition to be ‘fashionably late’ on the day, it is important that your ceremony starts promptly as your Registration Officers may have other ceremonies to attend. Although we make every effort to accommodate late arrivals, your ceremony may have to be postponed if you or any of your guests are late. You should do your upmost to ensure everyone arrives on time.
At Register Offices it is important that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of your ceremony.
At Approved Venues it is important that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of your ceremony.
Please make allowances for traffic delays and time for pre-wedding photographs.
Can I change the surname on my passport prior to my ceremony?
You are able to obtain a post-dated passport in your married name up to three months before your ceremony. All forms and guidance notes can be downloaded from gov.uk, the form should be sent to Cheltenham Registration Office for completion. The completed form will be returned to you before your ceremony. The charge for this service is £25.00