There are lots of reasons why couples choose a registry office wedding. Perhaps you love the romance of something small and intimate, rather than a big white wedding. Maybe you’re not religious or you have a small budget that you want to spend carefully. Alternatively, you might be having a simple legal ceremony before another celebration elsewhere or before you jet off for a sunny destination wedding. Whatever your reasons, we can help!

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Joleen and Shane

A registry office is often a relaxed, great value wedding venue. Plus, many of them are just as grand and stylish as any other setting, with plenty of options for any number of guests. Also, it doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wedding planning fun, as you can make your ceremony as unique, personal and creative as you would anywhere else.

Below we’ve put together our ultimate guide to planning your registry office wedding. It has everything you need to know from when to book and how many witnesses you need to what to wear and how to personalise your day. So, let’s get started…

Shannon and Connor kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony with their wedding guests standing and clapping.
Shannon & Connor

Can I have a registry office wedding? 

In England, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can marry in a registry office if both partners are..

  • Over 18
  • Not already married or in a civil partnership
  • Not closely related

If you’re from outside the UK you may need to apply for a special visa. Check the government website for the latest information.

Does it have to be my local office?

No, you can marry in any UK registry office. Many couples choose the one local to them but, if there’s somewhere that has special meaning for you or a particularly beautiful office that you love, you’re free to choose. 

Vanessa and Steve married at Bristol Registry Office, which was the ideal size for their small ceremony. “Our wedding was on the 20th June 2022, which was also my birthday. We wanted a very intimate registry wedding and it was just perfect.”

Vanessa & Steve

How to book and give notice…

Wherever you plan to marry you need to give notice of marriage at your local registry office. Firstly, you need to contact the registry office you want to marry in and confirm a time and date for your ceremony. Then, both of you need to give notice (at your local office if this is different) at least 30 days before your intended marriage date. If you live separately, you’ll also need to book separate appointments. This is designed to give people the chance to object if they want to, although hopefully that’s unlikely!

You’ll need to bring details of when and where you plan to marry, as well as your passport, address and proof of any name changes. If you’ve been married before, you’ll need to bring proof of divorce or a late partner’s death certificate to show you're eligible to marry again. Then, once that’s done, you must have your legal marriage ceremony within 12 months.

If you or your partner are from outside the UK you may need additional documentation, which you can check here

Jessa and Phillip

Jessa and Philip had a good feeling about Penrith Registry Office when they went to give notice.“The first time I saw the room was when we gave notice," says Jessa. “ I felt like this is where it was supposed to happen. Like something’s telling me that this is the perfect place for the very perfect moment. The room was just enough for all of our guests.”

How much does it cost?

Registry offices are often cheaper than other venues but it does vary from place to place. To start with you have to pay the fee for giving notice, which is currently £35 per person. Unless one of you is from outside the EU, in which case it’s £47 per person. Your marriage certificate will also cost you £11.

The basic fee for a registry office wedding is £46, which is for a simple ceremony with just the two of you and your witnesses in an office. For anything extra, such as a special room, additional guests etc, you’ll be charged more and this will vary from office to office. Average costs for something fancier can be anywhere from £200 to £700, and you’ll pay more for weekends, city venues and a larger capacity. Despite this, registry office weddings still generally work out very cost effective.

Jessa and Phillip

Choosing your witnesses

You also can’t get married without at least two witnesses, although you can have up to four. Anyone can be a witness, the only requirement is that they understand what they’re witnessing. So, they need to be old enough to follow the proceedings and must speak English. 

Close friends or family members are a good choice, although you can also hire professional witnesses if you’re planing an elopement or a micro wedding with just the two of you. You can even grab a couple of strangers from the street, as you don't actually have to know your witnesses!

The ceremony

A basic, no-frills ceremony can take as little as 10 minutes, but most registry offices will allow you to personalise your ceremony with your own readings and music. The vows are the part that’s legally binding, so you also don’t actually need to exchange rings either, although most people do. 

Vanessa-Mae and Scott

Scott and Vanessa-Mae married at Barry Registry Office in Wales. “We decided we love each other and had been together long enough, so we wanted to get married in the registry office,” says Vanessa-Mae. “I got emotional when I saw it for the first time on the wedding day, as I didn’t expect the room to look so nice. We got married on Saturday 19th November 2022. Even though it was a registry wedding I was still able to walk down an aisle and I married the man of my dreams.”

Make it personal

When it comes to personalising your ceremony, a registry office wedding is the same as getting married anywhere else. The only thing you can’t do is include anything religious. Other than that, you’re free to include any music or readings you like, within the time slot, and registrars are generally keen to encourage this. Registry offices are often decorated with flowers too, but you can bring your own decor, within reason. A flower display to go on the table or a few perfectly placed bouquets are great, as long as it's easy to move after the ceremony it should be fine.

Josie and Mike during their wedding ceremony performing the tie trasition at their wedding venue Norfolk.
Josie & Mike

Alternatively, having a simple registry office wedding first allowed Josie and Mike to go to town with their second celebration. “Our ceremony was very different,” says Josie. “We had already married at the local registry office, as the barn didn't hold a wedding license, so we had lots of fun! My mum and I walked in to Beyonce’s ‘Smash Into You’. We also made vows to our guests and they made vows to us. Then we read our own vows to each other and we physically tied the knot with a hand-fasting ceremony."

What to wear to a registry office wedding

Well, the simple answer is… anything you want! Everything from the traditional big dress to a stylish trouser suit is totally fine, the choice is yours.

Wedding dresses featured: Delana and Daniel

A registry office wedding does lend itself to something non-traditional or informal, such as an ultra-chic mini dress or fun tea length, especially if you’re having a second celebration later when you can wear something more classic. Alternatively, a casual bohemian design with pretty detailing will reflect the easy-going style of the day. However, don’t hold back. If you want the big skirt, the lace and all the sparkles, that’s equally appropriate! 

Wedding dresses featured: Dorit and Pallene

Amazing UK registry offices

Across the UK there are also lots of beautiful registry offices, such as Manchester, Islington, Glasgow and Liverpool Town Halls, to name just a few. And many of our wed2b brides agree... 

Stephanie walking into her registry office wedding ceremony with her dad. Another photo of Stephanie and John holding hands during their ceremony.

“Our venue was our local registry office in Dudley, West Midlands,” says Stephanie. “But it’s not your typical registry office, it’s a converted chapel and truly beautiful, inside and out. The reception afterwards was at a local brewery.”

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Stephanie & John

Helen and Terry chose Greenwich Registry Office for their February wedding. “Terry lived just outside Greenwich when we met and we visited the area many times on dates,” says Helen. “It’s still our favourite place to go. So, we booked Greenwich Registry Office for the ceremony, as the Victoria Hall is spectacular. We also love the military history of the area, so for the wedding breakfast we chose the Guardhouse at the old Woolwich Arsenal (army buildings).”

Real Weddings Bromley: Helen and Terry’s Greenwich wedding
Helen and Terry

Well, we hope we’ve given you plenty of inspiration and ideas for your registry office wedding. It can be a stylish, romantic and great value option for your big day and, as you can see from some of the ceremonies above, just as beautiful as many other venues. Click here for lots more registry office wedding ideas from our brilliant real life brides. Plus, for expert advice on what to wear and how to style your day, chat to one of our bridal experts (both online and instore). Happy planning!

Click here to check out all our bridal wedding dresses, then try on your favourites at your nearest wed2b store. Here’s what to expect when you visit, too. Lastly, for more inspiration, check out our Instagram, Facebook or TikTok accounts.