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Frequently asked questions

Booking a ceremony

We will accept bookings for any date in the future, within reason. Approved venue ceremonies are often booked one to two years ahead, sometimes more. If you have a specific date, time and venue in mind, we recommend booking early to secure your ceremony in our diary.

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In England and Wales you must give your legal notice of intention to marry or form a civil partnership at least 28 clear days before the ceremony date. If you have already given notice and your authorities for marriage have been issued, we will be happy to book your ceremony as quickly as you like. If you have not completed these legal preliminaries, you will need to allow at least 28 clear days from the date of your notice appointment.

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You can marry at any time of the day or night, there is no legal restriction. However, you should check with your chosen venue about the times that they can offer for your ceremony. The registration service ceremony rooms are available for specific time slots, please contact us for further information.

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The registration service ceremony rooms are available for ceremonies Mondays to Saturdays, however if you are booking your ceremony at an approved venue, we will be happy to attend any day, including Sundays or bank holidays. With regret, we cannot accommodate a ceremony on Christmas Day.

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We recommend that you discuss dates with your venue first, however do check our availability and book us before you confirm your date with your venue.

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Once you have decided on your venue and have one or two dates in mind, please call the ceremonies team to discuss your preferences and our availability. If you are unable to call, you are welcome to email us with your details, however we can only confirm current availability for one or two dates and we will need to speak to you in person to secure your booking.

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The ceremonies team take new bookings every day, so the availability changes constantly. In the time it would take us to check the diary and compile a list, the availability could easily change. For that reason we are unable to provide detailed lists of available dates and times.

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We are only able to reserve a ceremony date and time on payment of the current booking fee. 

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To secure a booking for the date, time and venue of your choice, you will need to pay the non-refundable booking fee and provide the ceremonies team with your details. This process can be completed by telephone or in person at one of our main offices in Trowbridge, Chippenham or Salisbury. Please note that we are not able to accept bookings by email.
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It is possible to arrange a double wedding, or civil partnership ceremony, or to arrange perhaps a welcoming ceremony to follow a marriage. If you are considering a joint ceremony please contact us to discuss your ideas and requirements.

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Fees

There are fees for different elements of your ceremony. All ceremonies must be booked by payment of the current booking fee which is non-refundable, and will also be subject to the appropriate ceremony fee, depending on which type of ceremony you are having and where and when it is taking place.  Our fees are reviewed as part of the Council's annual budget and may be subject to an increase on the 1st April each year. The ceremony fee payable will be that which is in place on the day of your ceremony.

For a marriage or civil partnership ceremony you will also each need to pay the statutory fee when you give notice, and for your marriage certificates.

Please refer to our fees page for further details of the current fees

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The fee you paid when you reserved your ceremony is a non-refundable booking fee which secures your date and time in our diary and starts the administration process. It is a separate fee, not a deposit, and as such is not deductible from the final ceremony fee. 

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The fee you paid to the registrar is the statutory legal fee for giving notice of intent to marry or form a civil partnership. This is not deductible from the final ceremony fee.

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The statutory legal fee for giving notice is paid at the time of your appointment with the registrar.

Your final ceremony fee and fees for any marriage or civil partnership certificates must be paid no later than six weeks before the date of your ceremony.

We do send reminders as your ceremony date draws closer.

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Payment can be made by debit or credit card over the telephone.

Alternatively you can pay in person at one of our main offices in Trowbridge, Chippenham or Salisbury where we will also accept cash payments.

We will accept a cheque no later than six weeks before the date of the ceremony, these can be posted to us at Wiltshire Register Office, County Hall, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN and should be made payable to 'Wiltshire Council'.

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At present we do not have online or internet banking payment facilities available for the Registration Service fees.

We are in the process of establishing an online payment facility and anticipate it will be implemented late in 2017, however we cannot be certain of exactly when this will be available.

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We prefer payment by card, however if you need to send us a cheque please make cheques payable to 'Wiltshire Council' and send them to Wiltshire Register Office, County Hall, Bythesea Road,Trowbridge, BA14 8JN.

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What happens next

We send the ceremony brochures out by email at the time of booking. Please check your spam/filter in case it has been blocked.

If you have not received it within 24 hours of booking your ceremony, please email us at ceremonies@wiltshire.gov.uk with your booking reference and we will re-send it.

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Once you have booked your ceremony, you should receive your ceremony brochure which will outline the steps you need to take. For a marriage or civil partnership, the most important thing you will both need to do is arrange an appointment to give notice with a registrar. Your booking confirmation will advise you of the date that we would like you to complete this by.

For all ceremonies, you will need to decide on the content of your ceremony and arrange to pay your final ceremony fees. We will need everything no later than six weeks before your ceremony, but we will send reminders!

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From around 12 weeks before the date of your ceremony, we will start making regular checks on the progress of your ceremony, and will send out reminders (usually by email) for anything that requires attention.

However, you are always welcome to contact us with any questions or queries at any time, we will be happy to help.

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Notice of marriage or civil partnership

You cannot give notice more than 12 months before the date of your ceremony, but you MUST give notice no later than 28 clear days before your ceremony. Here in Wiltshire we recommend that you give notice around six months before your ceremony if possible, and we will advise you of a preferred date at the time of booking.

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If your ceremony is still more than 28 days away - don't panic!

We recommend that couples give notice around six months before the date of their ceremony if possible, but this is not a requirement and does not affect the booking. We would recommend that you contact your local register office to book your notice as soon as possible if your ceremony is less than six months away.

If your ceremony is 28 days or less from now, and you have not given notice, you will need to re-arrange your ceremony date. Please contact us to discuss your options.


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You should give notice in the registration district where you live. If you live in Wiltshire you may use our online appointment booking system

Please note that Swindon has it's own Register Office as they are a seperate authority to the rest of Wiltshire. The easiest way to check your district is to check which local authority collects council tax for your home address.

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If you live in Wiltshire you can give notice at any of the following offices:

Trowbridge; Chippenham or Salisbury - appointments are available Monday to Friday 

Devizes, Marlborough, Warminster or Tidworth - these are outstations and only open on limited days, please telephone the team to book an appointment at one of these offices.


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The registration staff are engaged with ceremonies on Saturdays and the offices are not generally open for appointments. However, we can offer some limited appointments on some Saturdays at one of the three main offices. These are classed as out of hours appointments and we therefore have to charge a booking fee in addition to the notice fees. These fees are payable at the time the appointment is booked, as the accounting systems are unavailable to staff on Saturdays.

If you wish to book a Saturday appointment please call the ceremonies team.

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For an appointment in Wiltshire please use our online appointment booking system or call the ceremonies team on 0300 003 4570.

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You each have to give notice of your intention to marry, in person, at an appointment.

It can be completed as a double appointment - which takes approximately 1 hour, during which you will be seen together first and then seperately.

If it is not convenient for you to both attend at the same time, we can see you in single appointments (approximately 30 minutes each) which can be on different days and even at different offices if necessary. 

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If you live in Wiltshire you should give notice in Wiltshire, even if your ceremony is taking place somewhere else.

Your ceremony should be booked with the registration service for the district where your marriage is taking place.

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You must each give notice in the district where you live.

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No - it is not essential that you both give notice at the same time, you can book seperate appointments if that is more convenient for you both. We do recommend that you give notice within a few days of each other if possible.

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You must each provide evidence of your name, age and nationality, evidence of your home address in Wiltshire, any evidence related to a change of name; and evidence that you are now free to marry if you have previously been married or in a civil partnership.

Nationality is most easily proven with a passport, which also proves name and age. Address can be proved with a photocard driving licence, or recent bank statement, council tax or utility bill. Change of name deeds should be brought if appropriate, and a decree absolute or decree of dissolution if you are divorced or death certificate if you are widowed.

All documents should be originals (not photocopies), valid and in date. There are specific rules about how old some documents can be, if you are unsure that the documents you have will be sufficient, please call the ceremonies team to discuss this further.

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You will need to contact the Court where your divorce was processed to obtain a further copy of your decree absolute. If you are unsure which court this is, you can contact the Central Family Court in London who will be able to complete a search of all divorce records in England and Wales and provide you with a copy. There is a fee for this service and it may take a few weeks.

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Authorities for marriage

Unless you hear from us, your authorities for marriage will be issued on the 29th day following your notice appointment. They will be kept with the registration service ready for your ceremony.

If your ceremony is booked with us in Wiltshire, you can check the status of your notices and authorities using the online arrangements planner.

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If you have booked a church wedding and need to collect your authorities from us, they will be held at Wiltshire Register Office at County Hall in Trowbridge, unless you have made alternative specific arrangements with the registrar at your notice appointment.

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Witnesses

Yes, you need to have two witnesses for a legal marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

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Your witnesses can be anyone you like - friends, family or even complete strangers that you have just met and invited to witness your ceremony. The only exception is registration service staff, who are not permitted to act as witnesses!

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There is no legal age limit, however the witness must be able to understand what is happening in the ceremony and be prepared to sign the register. We generally recommend a minimum age of around 16 years, but this is negotiable!

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There is limited space in the marriage register for the witness signatures. It is possible to squeeze and extra one or two signatures onto the lines if necessary, but is not recommended.

The civil partnership schedule is more restricted and we regret that it is not possible to record more than two legal witnesses for a civil partnership.

It may be possible to arrange for a commemorative certificate to be signed by more witnesses or perhaps even children that are too young to sign the register - please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

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Depending on the age of your children, this is possible. However, if they are too young to sign the register, we could arrange an additional commemorative certificate which they could sign on the day to be included in the ceremony. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this option.

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It is your responsibility to arrange two witnesses for your ceremony, we regret we are unable to arrange or provide witnesses for you.

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Ceremony planning and arrangements

Yes, you can include readings, either published or personally written for you. Please remember they should not be religious in nature, you may wish to take a look at our suggested readings page for some ideas - but there is a large variety available out there.

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Two reasons - firstly, we just need to check the content of any readings that we are not familiar with. Also, we will place a spare copy with your marriage paperwork, which the registrars will have with them on the day. This is the back-up copy in case your 'reader' forgets to bring their copy in all the excitement on the day.

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If you have chosen your own, specific music, you are responsible for providing it to your venue in a suitable format. For registration service ceremony rooms, please refer to your ceremony brochure for details of suitable formats.

If you have not chosen music for your registration office ceremony, we do have a selection of music at each office, and the registrars on duty will select something appropriate to play.

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This depends on the venue. Each approved venue has different arrangements and you should discuss this with the venue manager or co-ordinator.

In the registration office ceremony rooms, one of the registrars will usually operate the music if a CD has been provided.

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You should discuss this with your venue, if they are happy then we will be happy to work with musicians or singers for your ceremony. This also applies to registration office ceremonies.

Just remember that any musicians or singers will have to be counted in your guest numbers for the room you are using for the ceremony.

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You are welcome to write your own words for most parts of the ceremony, and we welcome individual and personalised ceremonies.

Our combination ceremony offers the opportunity to write your complete ceremony from start to finish if you wish.

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No, you don't need to memorise anything. The celebrant will take you both through the entire ceremony, and the words that you need to say will be repeated after the celebrant, who will break everything down into small pieces for you.

If you wish to read your promises to each other from a small card for a more personal feel, you are welcome to do so.

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The gifting or exchange of rings is purely traditional and not a legal requirement for this to take place in the marriage ceremony if you do not wish to include it.

You are also welcome to exchange alternative gifts in place of the exchange of rings if you would prefer.

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Please check with your venue first. If they are happy with your proposal then please let us know, we will ensure that the registration team attending your ceremony are aware and prepared for the presence of your chosen furry or feathered friends.

Please be aware that registration office ceremony rooms are located in council buildings, which only permit assistance dogs.

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If you are completing a paper arrangements form, please send it to us at Wiltshire Register Office, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN

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Once we have approved your arrangements form, we release it to the registrars to prepare your ceremony. If you need to make any changes to your ceremony or the arrangements then please email us at ceremonies@wiltshire.gov.uk so that we can ensure the registrars receive the correct information. 

If you have last minute changes, we will endeavour to accommodate them, however we may need to ask you to discuss it with the registrars attending the ceremony on the day.

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You are welcome to call into one of our three main offices in Trowbridge, Chippenham or Salisbury where a member of the ceremonies team will be happy to discuss your arrangements and answer any questions you may have. Most of the registrar/celebrant team work from home and are not in the offices during the week, and for this reason we regret that we are unable to offer personal meetings for every ceremony.

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Thank you for submitting your arrangements in good time.

We prioritise all ceremonies in date order, and during our busy season (Easter to October) we will focus on ceremonies taking place up to one month ahead. If your ceremony is more than six weeks away we will not be likely to review your arrangements and choices immediately, however as soon as it has been reviewed and approved we will contact you.

If your ceremony is less than one month away and you have not heard about your arrangements, please contact us.

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All ceremony rooms, both in the offices and at approved venues have been inspected by the Licencing Officer and the numbers for each room have been set with a view to both health and safety and the comfort of you and your guests. Please ensure that your total number of guests, including any photographers and musicians, do not exceed the number for which your ceremony room is licenced. Any extra guests will be asked to remain outside the room for the duration of the ceremony.

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On the day

No, just yourselves. We do not need to see any of your documents again on the day.

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The registrars will need to see you both for a pre-ceremony interview, this must take place immediately before the ceremony begins, and will take around 10 minutes for each of you. Therefore we ask you to be at the venue at least 15 minutes before. If we are seeing you seperately, one of you should be there at least 30 minutes before.

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The registrars need to start your ceremony on time. They often have more than one ceremony to attend and must be on time for each ceremony they are responsible for.

If there is a substantial delay to your ceremony and the registrars have a further one following yours, it is possible that they will have to go on to the next ceremony and then return to you later in the day. This rarely happens and we will avoid it wherever possible, however you must be aware of the importance of being on time for your ceremony.

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The pre-ceremony interview is a legal requirement. The registrar will check the infomation that you have previously given at your notice appointment, to ensure it is still correct and to record any changes that may have occurred - for example a change of address or occupation. You do not need to bring any documents with you for the interview.

We can see you together or seperately - please indicate your preference when you complete your arrangements form.

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Each venue has designated areas for the registrars to conduct the pre-ceremony interview. Please check with the venue manager or wedding co-ordinator where your interview will be taking place.

At the registration offices, you will be taken to see the registrars in one of the interview rooms before you go to the ceremony room.

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Legally, the ceremony actually begins with the registrars interview, this means it must take place at the venue immediately before the ceremony in front of your witnesses and guests. For this reason, the registrar cannot conduct the interview earlier in the day or the day before, or at a location away from the ceremony venue (such as at home or in a hotel that you are travelling from).

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Signing the register

You must sign in the name that you are using when you enter the room - your current name. The registrar will help you with this part of the ceremony.

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The names that you choose to use following the ceremony is entirely your choice. Your marriage or civil partnership certificate will show your current names and is evidence that you are now married or in a civil partnership. You may be asked to show this when you arrange to change your name on your documents, but you can choose which name or names you use.

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There is no legal requirement to change names, it is simply a tradition.

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This is also a tradition or custom to help maintain accurate historical records. It will assist future generations who may wish to trace back through their family history.

There is no legal requirement to enter your Father's details and if you prefer they are not, you are free to decline when asked.

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At present the law requires that Father's details are entered in the marriage register and Mother's details are not allowed to be used.

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Yes, provided that your Step-Father is or was married to your Mother.

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After the ceremony

Your additional marriage certificates will be produced in the office during the week following your ceremony and will be sent to you in the post. They should arrive within 1 - 2 weeks.

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Please contact us so that we can investigate this further for you.

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Please refer to our copy certificates page for details of how to obtain further copies of certificates.

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Last updated: 21 July 2017 | Last reviewed: 21 July 2017