Registrations 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.
From 27 February 2023 the law changes and marriage or civil partnership for those who have not reached the age of 18 will no longer be legally possible.
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 schedule for marriage has 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are only able to reserve a ceremony date and time on payment of the current booking fee.
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. We are not able to accept bookings by email.
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.
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
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.
The fee you paid 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.
Your final ceremony fee and fees for any marriage or civil partnership certificates must be paid no later than 3 months before the date of your ceremony.
We do send reminders as your ceremony date draws closer.
Payment can be made by debit or credit card over the telephone which is the preferred option.
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 only if you have no alternative means of paying, these can be posted to us at Wiltshire Register Office, County Hall, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN and should be made payable to 'Wiltshire Council'.
At present we do not have online or internet banking payment facilities available for the Registration Service fees. We are hoping to introduce online payments in the not too distant future.
We prefer payment by card, however if you have no alternative method of payment and 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking reference and we will re-send it.
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 3 months before your ceremony, but we will send reminders!
From 3 months 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.
Giving notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership
Schedule for marriage
Unless you hear from us, your Schedule for marriage or civil partnership will be issued on the 29th day following your notice appointment. This will be kept by 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 Schedule using the online arrangements planner.
If you have booked a church wedding and need to collect your Schedule from us, it 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.
Yes, you need to have two witnesses for a legal marriage or civil partnership ceremony.
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!
There is no legal age limit for a witness, 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 18 years, but this is negotiable!
There is limited space on the Schedule 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.
Depending on the age of your children, this is possible. However, if they are too young to sign the Schedule, 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.
It is your responsibility to arrange two witnesses for your ceremony, we regret we are unable to arrange or provide witnesses for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Registration office ceremony rooms are located in council buildings, which only permit assistance dogs.
If you are completing a paper arrangements form, please send it to us at Wiltshire Register Office, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
All ceremony rooms, both in the offices and at approved venues have been inspected by the Licensing 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 licensed. Any extra guests will be asked to remain outside the room for the duration of the ceremony.
On the day
No, just yourselves. We do not need to see any of your documents again on the day.
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 separately, one of you should be there at least 30 minutes before.
The registrars need to start your ceremony on time. They may 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.
The pre-ceremony interview is a legal requirement. The registrar will check the information 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 separately - please indicate your preference when you complete your arrangements form.
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.
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).
Signing the Schedule
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.
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.
There is no legal requirement to change names, it is simply a tradition.
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 parents details and if you prefer they are not, you are free to decline when asked. You can enter in natural parents details, adoptive parents or step-parents with each party able to record up to four persons each.
Please see answer within the section 'Why are parents names entered on the marriage/civil partnership Schedule? Is it necessary?'.
Yes, provided that your Step-Father is or was married to your Mother.
After the ceremony
Your marriage certificates will be produced in the office in digital format will be posted to you to the address you specified to the registrar at the time of your ceremony. If you haven't received them within two weeks please contact the office.
Please contact us so that we can investigate this further for you.
Please refer to our copy certificates page for details of how to obtain further copies of certificates.