So, you've decided to have a Celebrant-led wedding - of course you have as they're soooo much better! But you're a bit boggled by the legal bits. Honestly, it's dead easy. Here's what you need to know.
This basic legal marriage service is called a 'Statutory Declaration'. It is you, your partner and two witnesses of your choosing (although some counties allow four) in an office with two Registrars.
You do not have to have a 'ceremony' in a ceremony room. You can just do the bare-minimum vows and paperwork so that you're legally married. You do not even have to exchange rings if you want to save that for your big do - although, if you want to, you can. Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt - job done.
At the time of writing, a Statutory Declaration costs just £46!!
This service exists in EVERY county in England and Wales, although, sometimes, only in one office per county eg in East Sussex, Hastings is the office that offers this service and it is NOT available in Lewes, Eastbourne or Crowborough.
Different counties offer this service at different times. So Hastings offers two slots on a Tuesday morning, Brighton has Wednesdays, Kent offers more days and times at more offices, so is a bit more flexible. You DO NOT have to go to your local office for this, you can go anywhere you choose in the country. So if you fancy a day-trip to Northumberland to legally tie the knot - go for it - just make sure you've booked!
You can book this service up to a year in advance and we recommend booking early as the slots do tend to get snapped up.
When you book your Statutory Declaration you will be advised that you need to give Notice to Marry. This is where you bring in ID to show you are who you say you are, if you've been married before, proof that you are no longer married etc. You can give Notice to Marry up to a year in advance of your legal marriage date and no later than a month before (although we wouldn't recommend leaving it until the last minute). This HAS TO BE at the register office that is nearest to you. The fee for this, currently, is £35 per person - so £70 per couple.
Giving Notice to Marry is 'Venue Specific' so wherever you are doing your legal marriage is where you are 'Giving Notice to Marry'.
The only other cost you will incur through the registration service is for copies of your marriage certificate. They are £4 per certificate on the day. They do go up in price immediately afterwards so er on the side of caution and get a couple on the day.
If you want to have more than two 'guests' you still have the option of choosing a ceremony-room ceremony, which will be more... well... ceremonial! This will, of course, be reflected in the cost. All different counties charge differing amounts for their different ceremony rooms, so you would need to enquire at the specific place you had in mind.