I want to get married - what do I do first?
A civil marriage ceremony can take place in any register office in England or Wales or at any venue that has been approved to hold a civil marriage.
These are questions that most people ask us, but if you find you need further information or want to book an appointment to give notice or check the date for your wedding then contact us at the Register Office.
- How do I arrange to get married?
- What is a Notice of Marriage?
- What documents will I need to give notice?
- Where can I marry?
- What will the cost be?
- What will happen on my Wedding Day?
- I want to get married abroad - what do I do?
How do I arrange to get married?
You should first contact the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. You may provisionally book your marriage date with the superintendent any time prior to the marriage date. You may marry at any register office or approved premises of your choice in England and Wales. However, for a marriage in an approved premises you will also need to make arrangements directly with the venue. In addition, both parties need to personally give a formal notice of marriage to the superintendent registrar of the district(s) where you live.
You and your partner must also have lived within a registration district in England and Wales for a period of not less than seven days on the day you give formal notice of marriage.
What is a Notice of Marriage?
Before you can marry in Wales or England you must give formal notice of your intention to marry to the Superintendent Registrar of the district in which you live. If you both live in the same district you should ideally attend your local register office together. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice separately in your own district. You will need to make an appointment to do this.
After giving notice you must wait fifteen clear days before the marriage can take place.
A notice is valid for twelve months. You may not therefore give notice of marriage more than twelve months before the date of your marriage.
What documents will I need when I give Notice?
When you give notice of marriage you need to provide proof of your identity, nationality and home address. Birth certificates, passports and recently dated bank statements/utility bills are ideal for this purpose.
If either of you have married before, whether in this country or abroad and that marriage ended in divorce, you will need to show proof of your divorce.
If either of you was divorced in Wales or England we will need to see the court-stamped copy of the decree absolute (the final divorce paper). If the divorce took place in a foreign country, we will need to see the original document issued by that country and an English translation if the document if it is in a foreign language. If no documents were issued in the foreign country we will tell you what we can accept as proof of the divorce.
If either of you is a widow or widower, we will need to see a certified copy of the death certificate of your late partner. In some cases, you may need to produce your marriage certificate.
If either of you is under 18, we will need to see proof that your parents or guardian agree to the marriage. If your parents are divorced we may also need to see the court order that gives custody to one of them.
The Superintendent Registrar will give you advice on this matter.
Where can I marry?
There are various options for civil marriages in Wales and England.
You can choose to marry in any Register Office in Wales or England, even though you do not live in the district covered by that office. You may also marry by civil ceremony in any approved premises.
The Merthyr Tydfil Register Office
Merthyr Tydfil Register Office is located in Ty Penderyn, 26 High Street, Merthyr Tydfil.
The town is renowned for its Iron industry and the Ironmaster Richard Crawshay. There are also many other famous people being connected to the town including Wales's best known composer Joseph Parry and fashion designer, Julien Macdonald.
We have two marriage venues at this location, the Register Office and the Fountain Room. The office is located on the upper ground level. The main entrance is at the corner of the building and there is a disabled and pram/buggy entrance at the side of the building . We are central for all local amenities and the surrounding area is suitable for photographs. Cyfarthfa Park, which just 5 minutes away, has several beautifully kept areas that are always popular for photographs.
The register office holds a maximum of 20 people, including the bride and groom and two witnesses and is available at the statutory fee, Monday to Friday (normal office hours) and Saturday (mornings only).
The Fountain Room at Merthyr Tydfil is situated in the same building and holds a maximum of 65 people including the Bride and Groom and two witnesses.
Marriages may take place at the Register Office and The Fountain Room, Merthyr Tydfil at the following times:
Monday to Thursday
Morning: 9.30 am to 11.30 am
Afternoon: 1.30 pm to 3.00 pm
Morning: 9.30 am to 11.30 am
Afternoon: 1.30 pm to 2.30pm
Saturday (Register Office)
9.00am to 11.30 am
Saturday ( Fountain Room)
9.00am to 2.30pm
Since 1st April 1995, civil marriages can take place in buildings other than a register Office so long as they have been approved by the local authority. These venues include castles, restaurants, hotels, civic buildings and country houses.
Marriages are not allowed to take place in the open air, in a tent, marquee or in temporary or moveable structures such as boats or hot air balloons.
Venues licensed to hold civil marriage ceremonies in the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil are:-
- Cyfarthfa Castle
- The Guest Club, Dowlais
- The Fountain Room, Ty Penderyn
- See Approved venue search for further venues in England and Wales.
For details of marriages at Approved Premises, please telephone the Superintendent Registrar.
What will it cost me?
The fees for the attendance of the registration officers at marriages in approved premises are set by individual local authorities and will not be the same throughout the country. This is in addition to any fees charged by the premises. You will need to contact the premises you wish to be married in for information on the fees they charge.
Merthyr Tydfil Register Office fees are:
- To give notice £35.00 per person
- The fee payable to the Registrar at interview on the day of the marriage is currently £49.00 and includes one copy of the Marriage Certificate
- Fees for Cyfarthfa Castle and Guest Club ceremonies Monday to Friday: £200.00, Saturday £250.00, Sunday £280.00 (marriage certificate :£4.00)
- Fees for Fountain Room ceremonies Monday to Friday : £100 Saturday: £120 (marriage certificate:£4.00)
What will happen on my Wedding Day?
You must agree the form of words to be used and any readings or music, with the Superintendent Registrar before the day of the wedding.
Before The Ceremony
The bride and groom may decide to arrive together or separately, and they can either be escorted into the marriage room together, or the bride can be escorted in to her waiting groom. If you are marrying in a register office or approved premise, the registrar will see you both in private before the ceremony. This is to check the details to be entered into the marriage register and to collect the fee. You will each be asked for the following information:
- Your full name, age, occupation and the address of your residence on the day of your marriage.
- The full name and occupation of your father and whether he is retired or deceased.
It is your responsibility to provide two witnesses to the marriage who are usually friends or relatives. They must be able to understand what is taking place and be able to give evidence of what they have seen and heard in the unlikely event that this should become necessary.
During the ceremony
Background music is played before and after a marriage ceremony and readings are permitted as enhancements to a wedding. These must be non-religious. Couples may request or supply their own music for their marriage ceremony at the register office.
Video cameras can be used during the ceremony and a photographer is allowed to take photographs during the ceremony. Time will be given at the end for others to take photographs. Photographs are not allowed during the signing of the register.
Your ceremony will take a maximum of 30 minutes.
After the ceremony
Once the ceremony is over, the Registrar will ask you to check that your details have been correctly entered into the marriage register. Please check them carefully, as there can be problems if errors have to be corrected later. You will then be asked to sign the register. The bride should sign in the name she was known by immediately before the ceremony. Your two witnesses will then be asked to sign, followed by the Superintendent Registrar or Minister who conducted the marriage ceremony and finally, the Registrar.
Adding personal touches to your ceremony
Although you cannot incorporate any religious content into a civil marriage ceremony, you may be able to add individual touches such as non-religious music and/or readings.
I want to get married abroad, what do I do?
If you have any enquiries about marrying abroad, you should contact the Embassy or High Commission of the country concerned, who will advise you further.