Advice you can trust from a Registrar.
Today we are going to talk about booking your venue in the UK for a Civil Wedding. As a former Registrar I can tell you that many brides-to-be are often very disappointed that they are unable to get the venue they want for the date they want. I am going to give you some good advice that could pay off and help you get the deal you are after. The choice of where to marry in England and Wales is governed by legislation, and venues must apply for a licence to enable them to hold weddings. For this reason, you cannot get married in your garden, on the beach, in a field, or in the woods. There are ways that you can still comply with the law in where your marriage is legally registered (Town Hall Abroad or UK Register Office) and you then have the option of a further celebratory ceremony in a location of your choice. This ceremony would be purely celebratory and have no legal status and be subject to permission, but it would mean that you could get married anywhere. See Bride-Buddy’s page about Personal Ceremonies for info on how to do this.
Many web based planning guides and checklists are advising brides to contact the Register Office 3 months before the wedding. Trust me, I’m a Registrar! DO NOT EVER LEAVE IT THIS LATE. Venues often take bookings two or more years in advance. Popular days like Saturday get booked very quickly. Be prepared to compromise. For instance, many venues offer special rates for midweek weddings and this can save a lot of money if you are on a budget and some venues can hold more than one wedding at the same time. You could be lucky with a midweek wedding and end up with the entire venue exclusive for your big day! A Registrar must attend to carry out the ceremony. I worked in the service for 24 years in the county of Essex and we took bookings to attend venues 2 years in advance. Not all register offices do this, some do, some don’t, but they all take bookings 1 year in advance, so my advice is to phone the Register Office in the district where your Venue is (not necessarily where you live) a year (or two) to the day of your wedding to avoid disappointment.
If you left it until 3 months before your wedding to try and get a Registrar to come out to your venue on a weekend, a bank holiday or the whole of August in some busy districts, we just wouldn’t be able to do it as we would already be booked.
Please check the Booking Venues page on the website for more detailed information and what to do depending on the area in the UK where you live.
Well, I’m glad I have got this blog off my chest. It is annoying to see so much misleading information out there, I just want to make sure you have the right advice so you can have the wedding you want. The website also has a checklist of the legal documents you need to ‘give notice of marriage’ at the register office, which can be of use to you if you are trying to get through on the phone without much success.