Booking your wedding registrar 10 essential questions to help you

Jan 5, 2024 | Blogs, Weddings

The difference between a wedding registrar and an independent wedding celebrant is that at present only a registrar can marry you in British law. However only a wedding celebrant can create a unique and personalised wedding ceremony just for you incorporating all the traditions and rituals you dream of.

In this guide are the 10  essential questions all couples planning to legally marry in the UK  who have decided they want a wedding celebrant, should ask the registry office when they  make their initial enquiry regarding the legal marriage service.

Included within the guide are the sort of questions engaged couples should think to ask before booking as it is easy to be misinformed about your options .

Q 1: Do you offer the basic, cheapest, and least time-consuming statuary legal marriage service with a wedding registrar?

All counties within the UK, or cities, will have at least one council property which has a limited number of available slots for the basic marriage service. You  just need to look around, or be firm when you enquire, as to that being exactly what you want. Always question  where can you get this service if it’s not offered when you make your enquiry call.

Councils are required in law, to control their budgets which constitutes public money.  They need to generate income to cover many ancillary costs. One way of generating income is through marriage services so it is in the councils (and their districts)  interest to sell you the highest value wedding service.

Q 2: If there isn’t a wedding registrar available at my chosen registry office, where about in this county, or city can I find this service?

All counties and cities will have a limited number of spaces to perform the basic statuary legal wedding service. This is almost always held in the council offices and never the larger prettier council buildings, such as old town halls or scenic civil buildings. The basic service may only be available at one location within the county/town. However, they will be available somewhere in your area, legally.

Q 3: What days of the week is the statuary legal service available with a wedding registrar?

The basic statuary requirements for a marriage service are almost always offered on a weekday before midday.

As soon as you have decided on your wedding and know you want a celebrant to create an individual bespoke ceremony, book the basic legal service as soon as possible. This can be done twelve months in advance (don’t forget that you may decide to do the legal necessities before your actual wedding day). If you are planning more than twelve months in advance, set a calendar alert to book the service as soon as the twelve months are reached.

Dorset celebrant Juliette by the sea at an outdoor wedding

Photo above shows: Wedding Celebrant Juliette by the sea with a couple and their children loving an intimate outdoor wedding ceremony (they did the legal paperwork on their own with two witnesses the week before at the registry office with a wedding registrar)

Q 4:  We only want the basic legal documentation as required in law.

Unless you are set on doing your legal marriage certification on a Saturday, in a named venue you can definitely find a council premise which has basic slots available during the week. However you need to book this as soon as possible as they are incredibly popular as increasingly engaged couples want the personal and unique words of a celebrant to perform their wedding ceremony.

Wedding celebrant Juliette by the sea delivering a wedding ceremony

Photo above shows: Juliette giving a personal, modern and traditional wedding ceremony to a couple who have met her loads of times to tell her what they want and all about their love story

Q 5: We have decided we may have more than just the two witnesses at the basic legal marriage, will that alter the cost?

Unfortunately yes. if you decide you want more than two witnesses the cost will increase if you have a wedding registrar at your chosen venue.

woman and young boy at a wedding

Photo above shows that, if you are going to have witnesses, perhaps it is best they are not dressed as elephants !

Q 6: Will we meet the wedding registrar before our ceremony.

That’s highly unlikely. It will be a member of the team who is who is on duty that day. It also depends on whether or not they are running late from the wedding before and another team member steps in.

Q 7: Can a wedding registrar personalise our wedding ceremony?


Check out my blog on what wonderful traditions you can include in your wedding ceremony which don’t happen with a wedding registrar.

drinks being held as a toast at a wedding ceremony

Photo above shows: Wedding toast as part of the wedding ceremony (you can do this with a celebrant )

Q 8:  I was told the council provide a celebrant alongside or after the wedding registrar. Is this the same as an independent celebrant?

No. It will be a council official not an independent, trained, insured and experienced celebrant ( who will have got to know you like a really good friend! )

wedding celebrant hugging a groom whilst bride smiles after the wedding ceremony

Photo above shows: Juliette hugging a groom as the bride looks on smiling after their intimate and moving wedding ceremony

Q 9: Can I have the basic standard marriage service at a licensed venue of my choice?

As local marriage registrars  can officiate your legal ceremony at any licensed venue. However there is a fee for their attendance and time on top of the marriage ceremony fee. The basic fee would not apply at your venue.

Wedding couple at Coombe Lodge having a celebrant wedding ceremony

Juliette holding a personalised bespoke wedding ceremony with a couple at Coombe Lodge, a historical and popular wedding venue in Somerset.

Coombe Lodge in Blagdon, just outside Bristol, is a lovely example of a dedicated luxury wedding venue where celebrants are increasingly be asked to do wedding ceremonies by engaged couples






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