By law, a marriage can only be conducted after an appropriate legal preliminary. Here's the lowdown.
Notice of marriage (Civil ceremonies):
- Definition: A notice of marriage states the names of the parties to the marriage, their age, marital status, address, occupation nationality and the intended venue for the marriage. It is a legal document covered by the Perjury Act 1911.
- Where and when: Unless you are marrying in the Church of England or Church in Wales by Banns or Common Licence, notice of marriage has to be given personally to your local superintendent registrar(s) at the Register Office in the district in which you and your partner reside.
- What do I need? When giving notice of marriage, proof of identity is required in the form of a passport or birth certificate. Those who have been previously married will be required to produce documentary evidence of the death of their former spouse or of the dissolution of the marriage, in the form of a certified copy of a death certificate or divorce decree.
- Residence: Both of you must have lived in a registration district in England or Wales for at least seven days immediately before giving notice at the register office. If you both live in the same district, you should both attend your local register office together to give your notices of marriage. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice separately in your respective district.
- How long do I have to wait? After giving notice you must wait a further 16 days before the marriage can take place. Your marriage cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed. Although a period of residence is required in the district of registration, the marriage may take place at a venue in a different part of the country if it is specified at the time of registration.
- Finally: Registration Officers have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been arranged for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.
Formalities for Church of England/Wales ceremonies:
- The Publication of Banns: Application for the publication of banns should be made to the clergyman of the parish in which each party is resident. Banns must be published on three consecutive Sundays, after which the couple are free to marry at any time within three months.
- Common Licence: This procedure dispenses with the need to have banns published. One of the parties must sign an affidavit to say that there is no legal impediment to the marriage, and that one of the parties has been resident in the parish where the marriage will take place for at least 15 days prior to the licence being issued. The marriage may then take place at any time within the next 12 months.
Other religious ceremonies:
- Formal notice, (as for Civil Ceremonies, see above), will always need to be given to the local Superintendent Registrar.
- Some Ministers are allowed to act as Registrars, whereas other religions need to have a Registrar present at the service to register the marriage.
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