Marriages & Partnerships
Your guide to getting married or forming a civil partnership in Somerset & North Somerset.
What is Giving Notice, and how does it happen? Here is our step by step guide to the legal requirements of forming your partnership or getting married. You don’t need to have planned your entire wedding from hen do to honeymoon before you get started, but you need to have all the legalities in place at least 28 days before your big day. This guide will tell you what you need to do, and when to do it.
What is “Giving Notice”?
Giving notice is something that we find confuses many couple. It’s not the same as booking your registrar. It’s also not simply sending an email letting us know that you will be booking a ceremony.
It’s the legal declaration that you intend to marry or form a partnership. You will have a private appointment with a Registration Officer. At the appointment you’ll give details of your ceremony date and venue and information about yourself. The notice will then be publicly displayed in the Register Office for 28 days before permission is granted.
You have to give notice of marriage in the district where you live. Get in touch with us if you live in Somerset or North Somerset and intend to get married. This applies even if the ceremony is elsewhere. If your ceremony will be in Somerset but you live in another district, you’ll need to get in touch with your local registrars. Normally you can find details via the local council website.
When do I need to give notice?
You may give notice up to 1 year in advance, but it must be at least 28 days before your wedding or civil partnership. We normally recommend doing it around 3-6 months before your big day. This means you have time to order essential paperwork if you find you don’t have the right documents. It also gives you flexibility should you need to move your ceremony date by a few weeks or months. Once you give notice the marriage authority is valid for a full year for the venue you have chosen. The start date of the notice period is the day you had your appointment.
How do I book an appointment?
You may book online for an appointment at any of our Register Offices by clicking the link below. If you’ve had a foreign divorce, you will need to phone us for an appointment and let us know. That’s because it takes a little longer to process that paperwork. Similarly, you will also need to email an appointment request if either one of you is not a UK citizen, or an EU/EEA citizen with settled status. These appointments also take a little longer than normal and will need to be booked in manually by our team.
Remember that you’ll need to have chosen your venue, booked your ceremony date and have all the relevant paperwork in place before you can give notice.
Do I need to have chosen a venue?
Yes – your marriage or partnership must take place at the venue you have named in your notice. If you change venue, you will need to give notice and pay the fee again. Do have your venue and registrar booking lined up before you book your notice appointment.
What should I do if I don’t live in Somerset?
If you’re not a Somerset/North Somerset resident, you should give notice at your local Registration Office. They’ll send us paperwork ready for your ceremony after the 28 day notice period has been completed.
You need to have lived for at least 7 days in the district where you give notice, but you don’t need to get married in that district. It is possible to establish residency in a district by booking appointments with the registrar a week apart. Your notice would then be given at the second appointment. It’s not necessary to stay in that district for the period of time between giving notice and getting married. Couples living abroad often choose to establish residency and give notice on one visit, then return for the ceremony later on.
If you need to arrange appointments to establish residency in Somerset, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org
How much does it cost?
Giving notice costs £35 each for British or EU/EEA citizens with settled status. For couples where one or both are not British, or do not have the relevant immigration status, the cost is £47 each.
You will need to pay at the time of your appointment. Our preferred payment method is by card, but we also accept cash and cheques.
Find full details of all our fees and charges on the Costs page
What if one of us is not a UK citizen?
Following Brexit, changes were introduced on 1st July 2021 regarding couples planning to marry or form a partnership where one or both are not UK citizens or EU/EEA citizens with settled status.
If either of you are not British or an EU/EEA citizen with settled status, you will need to give notice in a district where either one of you lives. You must attend the appointment together. The cost for giving notice in these cases is £47 rather than £35 per person. Additionally, it be done at least 71 days before your ceremony date, instead of the normal 28 days, depending on your exact immigration status. Please email your request for a notice of marriage appointment to email@example.com. Include details of your nationality and immigration status, eg fiance visa, work visa, tourist visa.
Further detailed guidance on visa requirements, fees and conditions can be found on the GOV.uk website.
What information do I need to provide?
You’ll need to let us know the date and location of your ceremony, so make sure that’s all booked first – both with the venue and with our registrars.
You will both need to provide original documents to confirm your name, age, nationality and marital status. These must be original, not photocopies. However, if the document was only supplied to you in digital format (eg a PDF of your Decree Absolute, or online utility bill) then you should print a copy to bring with you.
- a valid British/EEA passport
- if you do not have a valid passport and were born before 1 January 1983 then you must provide a full birth certificate showing parents’ details.
- if you do not have a valid passport and were born after 1 January 1983 you need to bring your own full birth certificate AND your mother’s valid passport or mother’s full birth certificate. You can bring your father’s full birth certificate if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth, or subsequently married her. The reason you need to provide this information is that if you were born before 1 January 1983 nationality was determined on the birth certificate, but if you were born after 1 January 1983 nationality is not proven in this way.
- proof of residence in the form of a full or provisional driving license, current year council tax bill, utility bill (dated within 3 months) or bank statement (dated within 1 month).
- proof of marital status – If you have been married before, you’ll need to provide a Decree Absolute, Death Certificate, Dissolution of Civil Partnership document as appropriate. If you are using a Death Certificate, you must be named as the spouse. If you have had a foreign divorce, you’ll need to phone us for an appointment at it may be more complicated to deal with. You will need a translated copy of your divorce papers if they are not in English. You do not need to prove that you have never been married. If your paperwork was sent to you electronically, you will need to print out a copy to bring with you.
- if you have changed your name by deed poll or statutory declaration, you must provide original documents.
- If you are not a British national, you will need to provide proof of your immigration status, such as a valid visa or government access code for those with Settled Status.
- If you are not a British national or EU/EEA citizen with settled status, you will also need to provide a passport photo that will be attached to your paperwork.
What should I do if I want to get married outside Somerset?
You should still give notice in Somerset or North Somerset, if this is where you normally live. You must book the ceremony time and location with the Registration Office in the area where you intend to marry or form your partnership. You can then enter these details on your notice booking form. This may apply if you’re planning to form a union abroad. Check the legal requirements of your destination.
What if we want to get married abroad?
If you’re a British national getting a marriage or civil partnership abroad then you might need certain documents from the UK government, for example a certificate of no impediment (CNI) to show that you can legally wed. You can request a CNI from your local register office.
You should contact the local authorities in the country where you want to get married to find out what you need to do.
Not all ceremonies are legally valid and you should check that you will be having a legal wedding or civil partnership. Your marriage or partnership will be legally recognised in the UK if both of the following apply:
- you followed the correct process in the country where you got married
- it would be allowed under UK law
Use this tool on the GOV.UK website to check what you will need: Getting married abroad – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
What if I've had a divorce in another country?
If you have had a foreign divorce then your appointment will need to be booked in manually by our team, rather than through the online booking system. The appointment will be slightly longer and may have a different fee. Divorce documents vary from country to country and our registration officers will need to establish the correct procedure once they’ve seen your paperwork. Please provide a professionally translated copy of any foreign documents not originally in English.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an appointment – let us know details of your own nationality, and the country in which your divorce took place.
Do we both need to give notice in person?
Yes, you must both attend a notice appointment to prove that you are free and legally able to marry or form a partnership with each other. This needs to be done in a face to face interview, in person. Unfortunately, it cannot be done online or over Zoom etc. You can give notice separately if it is hard for you both to attend the appointment at the same time. However, this doesn’t apply if either one of you is not British or an EU/EEA citizen with settled status. If either of you are subject to immigration control, you will need to attend your appointment together.
Do I need to give notice if I’m having a religious ceremony?
Church of England clergy are authorised Registrars so if you intend to marry in a C of E Church there may be no need to give notice with us. Check with your vicar whether they are able to read the banns for you. They may advise you to give notice with us instead. Some churches may require a 7 day residency to be established if the church in which you intend to marry is not your usual place of worship.
Marriage ceremonies performed by other religious denominations will normally require you to give notice at a Registration Office in the district where you live. You may also need to book a Registrar to attend the wedding with a schedule document (formerly a register). Please check specific requirements with your place of worship.
What can I do if it is an emergency?
It may be possible to speed up the normal legal notice period under certain circumstances. Situations where a waiver may be applied include a terminal illness diagnosis where one of the couple is not expected to survive. It may also be granted where one of the couple is in the armed forces and is due to be posted to a dangerous location. There is a cost involved in applying for a waiver, and there is no guarantee that it will be granted. If you are in an emergency situation, please phone or email us to explain the situation and we will do our best to assist.