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Ceremony checklist

Ceremony checklist

When planning your wedding or civil partnership there are some things you need to consider. For example, you need to remember to book our registrars to attend. Without our presence, it’s not a legal ceremony.

We can take bookings for the Bootham Suite or our approved venues up to 24 months in advance. The earlier you book the better.

Statutory ceremonies are subject to availability and are opened approximately 6 months in advance.

We suggest that you make a provisional booking with the venue first and then confirm our registrars are available to attend that booking.

Ceremonies are held all year round except for Christmas Day. Certain times of the year are busier than others, but we'll always do our best to accommodate your requests and needs. You can get married or enter a civil partnership in York if you're:

  • aged 18 years, or older
  • single, divorced or widowed
  • not closely related

You can have a marriage or civil partnership ceremony at York Register Office or choose another of our approved venues to get married in York,

Currently a marriage or civil partnership ceremony must be held in an approved venue to be legal. However, if you're looking for an alternative venue you can contact us to discuss your options. For example, one option is to have a 2-part ceremony.

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Approximately 8 to 10 weeks before your ceremony, we’ll invite you to complete your Ceremony Planner.

The Ceremony Planner allows you to choose your vows, readings, and poems so the ceremony is bespoke to you. We’ll need a copy of any readings or poems you want to include in your ceremony.

You’ll also need to include your music choices on the Ceremony Planner (even if your ceremony is taking place at one of our approved venues) so we can approve your playlist. For legal reasons religious content is not permitted in your vows, readings, poems, or music choices.

Your Ceremony Planner should be completed no later than 4 weeks before your ceremony where possible.

If you're unable to complete your Ceremony Planner online, or require support, please email: ceremonies@york.gov.uk.

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You must have 2 people attending your ceremony and both will be witnesses. You'll be asked to include their full names on your Ceremony Planner.

When you get married or form a civil partnership, you must have 2 witnesses present. By law the couple and the 2 witnesses must remain in the room for the duration of the ceremony.

The witnesses' presence is required by law. The purpose of a witness is to witness the making of the declarations and exchange of vows and, if required, to be able to swear in court as to the identity of the parties or to testify to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed, including the date and place.

The witnesses should preferably be over the age of 18. They can be friends, family or strangers, and will be included in your guest numbers. They must speak and understand the English language.

If any person you have chosen as a witness leaves the room during the ceremony, they will not be able to act as a witness or sign the schedule.

Being an official witness is a very significant duty. It is a legal requirement that the paperwork be signed by 2 independent witnesses. You cannot have a wedding or civil partnership without witnesses in England or Wales.

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Currently a marriage or civil partnership ceremony must be held in an approved venue to be legal. However, if you're looking for an alternative venue you can contact us to discuss your options.

If you'd like to book a ceremony in a venue (which is not an approved venue). We can help you.

We offer a 2-part ceremony. The legal ceremony takes place in our Bootham Suite on a Thursday. You can invite up to 8 guests.

The second celebratory ceremony can take place after you are legally married, at a venue of your choice (within the York district).

If you're looking to have a ceremony in a venue that is not licensed, or in a truly unique setting such as outdoors or in a non-permanent structure, for example in a marquee or under a pagoda, we may still be able to accommodate your dream ceremony. One option is to have a 2-part ceremony.

The second celebratory ceremony can take place at a venue of your choice in our district, this includes such venues as:

  • your home or garden
  • unlicensed venue, hotel or restaurant
  • a barn
  • a boat
  • a farm
  • a special place that means something to you

This venue would require a risk assessment (included in the price) and you would need permission from the proprietor. You can email: ceremonies@york.gov.uk for further information about 2-part ceremonies.

Remember that you and your partner would still need to give notice of intention to marry or enter civil partnership at the latest 28 days (70 days if either of you is a non-EEA national) before the date of the legal ceremony.

The fee for the 2-part ceremony is £807, this includes the cost of both ceremonies and the risk assessment. Read more about ceremony fees with York Register Office.

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To marry or form a civil partnership in York, you must each give legal notice of intention. This is generally given in the registration district in which you live however, where one or both parties is subject to immigration control, both parties must attend together in the registration district where either of you live.

You’ll need to book an appointment in the relevant registration district at least 28 clear days, and no more than a year, before your ceremony is due to take place.

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There are specific documents you will be asked to bring to the giving notice appointment for your marriage or civil partnership to prove your identity, nationality, marital status, and place of residence.

At times of high demand, we prioritise couples whose ceremonies are more imminent.

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Small marriages and civil partnership ceremonies can be conducted in a small room identified as the Register Office (subject to availability).

This is a statutory ceremony and is for the couple plus 2 adult witnesses only.

Please note: attendance is restricted to the couple and 2 witnesses only. Children of any age or photographers cannot attend additionally.

There will be no readings, music, extra vows or other personalised elements included in the ceremony.

This basic ceremony option is available on selected dates only, so availability is limited.

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The law has recently changed to allow ceremonies to take place outdoors in the grounds of an approved venue. If the venue wishes to offer this, then they must first obtain confirmation from the local authority that the location for any outdoor ceremony is seemly and dignified. You should contact the venue for more information.

If your chosen venue has an approved outdoor structure or outdoor linked area and you would like your wedding ceremony to take place there, the venue should provide you with a copy of an outdoor ceremony agreement form. This form must be completed and returned to us at least 8 weeks prior to your ceremony.

Please note: you should make additional plans with the venue to hold your ceremony in one of their approved ceremony rooms in case the weather is inclement on the day. The indoor ceremony room must be able to accommodate all of your invited guests.

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If you’re marrying or having a civil partnership in a church or other religious building, you should check with the church whether you need to give notice to the registrar.

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Separate legal procedures apply for religious ceremonies, marrying abroad, and for people subject to immigration control. See Marriages and civil partnerships in England and Wales (GOV.UK) for more information.

If you need a Certificate of No Impediment, and you live in York please contact us for advice on email: registrar@york.gov.uk or telephone: 01904 553190.

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If you have a ceremony booked with us and want to reschedule or cancel please email: ceremonies@york.gov.uk.

Any changes to your ceremony venue, date or time will incur an admin fee of £42.00 per change.

You'll need to provide the following information:

  • your full names
  • your contact telephone number and email address
  • current booking details - date, time, and venue
  • new preferred booking details (if rescheduling) - date, time, and venue
  • confirmation you want to cancel your booking (if cancelling)

We'll contact you to confirm arrangements as soon as we can. We aim to contact you within 5 days from receiving your enquiry.

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