Marriages & Partnerships
Your guide to getting married or forming a civil partnership in Somerset & North Somerset.
Find your essential ceremony planning guidance and forms here. We have also gathered answers to some Frequently Asked Questions, such as how a civil partnership differs from a marriage, how to get married if you are under 18, how to change your passport and renewing your vows. If you can’t find what you need to know, just drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help.
COVID19 Ceremony Guidance
The government has provided guidance on how weddings can be accommodated in these difficult times. The most up to date information can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations: guidance from Step 4 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Under the current circumstances Government advice can and does change quickly and without notice. To keep up to date with all the latest information, or just to get some ideas for your own ceremony, please follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SomersetWeddingService/
We will be updating our ceremony forms and guidance – downloadable below – as things progress. In the event of any major changes, we will add details here.
Coronavirus Ceremony Cancellation Trading Standards Advice
This useful guide has been produced by Devon, Somerset & Torbay Trading Standards. We’re so pleased to hear that venues are trying to be as accommodating as possible at this very difficult time. However if you have any issues or queries about your consumer rights, this guide will hopefully have the answers.
Somerset Registration Service are moving all ceremonies free of charge, and refunding in full any ceremonies cancelled during this period. We regret that we won’t be refunding the individual statutory £35 fees for giving notice of marriage or civil partnership as this work will already have been completed. If a notice’s 12 month period expires before a rescheduled ceremony, this process will need ot be repeated with the £35 per person fee being payable again.
Covid19 Registration Office Ceremony Room Numbers
JULY 2021 ONWARDS
While there is no legal cap on guest numbers, we have a duty of care to our staff to provide a safe working environment. As our busy team conduct multiple ceremonies a day all through the week, it’s vital that we protect their wellbeing to ensure future ceremonies can go ahead. To balance this with the wishes of couples to include as many friends and family in their special day as they can, we are offering a choice.
Ceremony rooms that can be well ventilated by opening doors and windows during the ceremony can return to their pre-covid maximum capacities. Please be aware that all rooms will be ventilated while guests arrive and leave. However, if you choose to have more guests the doors and/or windows will also remain open during your ceremony while you are exchanging vows. This could cause considerable noise and distraction at some venues, (particularly those in town centre environments) which is likely to impair the experience for you and your guests.
If you would prefer to keep doors and windows closed during the ceremony, reducing both noise and ventilation, then we have calculated a lower party size based on airflow tests. Please see the table below for your options and let us know on your Pre Ceremony Check form which option you would prefer. Please note that the registrars are not included in these numbers. If you wish to have photographers, musicians etc, they should be included in the guest numbers. Children under 1 or “babes in arms” do not need to be included in these numbers, but all other children MUST be included.
|The Old Municipal Buildings, Taunton|
|Tudor Hall (closed)||£350||36||+||2||+||2||=||40|
|Tudor Hall (ventilated)||£350||96||2||2||=||100|
|Vivary Room (closed)||£200||10||+||2||+||2||=||14|
|Vivary Room (ventilated – this is still slightly below the previous maximum limit)||£200||34||+||2||+||2||=||38|
|The Old Town Hall, Weston Super Mare|
|Hutton Suite (closed)||£150||8||+||2||+||2||=||12|
|Hutton Suite (ventilated)||£150||36||+||2||+||2||=||40|
Old Council Chamber
Old Council Chamber
|Abbey Manor, Yeovil|
|Mandeville Room (downstairs – closed)||£200||25||+||2||+||2||=||29|
|Mandeville Room (downstairs – ventilated)||£200||36||+||2||+||2||=||40|
|Frome Town Hall, Frome|
The Meeting Room
The Meeting Room
The Council Chamber
The Council Chamber
Forms and Guidance
All the essential forms and guidance for planning your ceremony are now on their own page. Find it in the main menu or follow this link: Forms & Guidance Downloads
All our fees and charges are now listed a brand new Costs page. Head there for full details of what, how and when to pay for your ceremony, notice and certificates.
Your First Certificate
Certificates are no longer written out at the end of the ceremony, so you don’t have to worry about losing it at the reception! We are now required to take the marriage schedule and enter it on to a central digital record system before certificates are created. You will then receive your certificate in the post around 5 days later. If you would like extra copies, do let us know in advance. You can pay for these when you pay your ceremony fees. Otherwise you may order more copies later online once the details have been recorded. All our marriage or civil partnership ceremonies include one copy of your certificate in your fees.
Your certificate will show your legal names as they were on the day you married (eg John Smith and Jane Jones, not John and Jane Smith). It is up to you whether you want to change your name after your ceremony, and what that name will be.
Certificates for Religious Ceremonies
At your ceremony in a church or religious building you and your witnesses will sign a marriage schedule, now that traditional register books have been retired. If you marry in a Church of England church this is called a marriage document. After the ceremony you have 21 days to get the signed schedule or document to the registration service. It can be posted to our main Taunton office or delivered by hand to one of our local offices – find address details on our Contact page. This is the responsibility of the clergy or authorised person at the church, but they may ask you to arrange it. Do discuss this before the big day so you are clear what is going to happen. Within 5 working days of receiving your schedule or document we will create the legal record of your marriage which allows us to create certificates on request. You can order and pay for a copy online via the link below after your ceremony has taken place and the document has been submitted.
Certificates for immediate honeymoon travel
Please be aware that you will not have a certificate straight away. If you are planning a honeymoon that requires proof of marriage for a discount or because your destination requires you to be legally wed to stay together, please check what will be acceptable documentation. You will be able to take a picture of the marriage schedule which may be acceptable in some cases, but it is not a legal document. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this new legislation, which is applied nationally to all ceremonies in England and Wales.
Ordering Additional or Replacement Certificates
If you need to order additional copies after the ceremony has taken place or a replacement of an old certificate issued in Somerset, you can do this online or by post. The current cost for all replacement or additional certificates is £11. We do not make an additional charge for postage. You can order marriage, civil partnership, birth and death certificates from the same portal on the Somerset County Council website. Click on the link below for more information and to access the order form.
Formerly an alternative for same-sex couples to gain legal recognition of their relationship, this type of union was made available to both same sex and opposite sex couples from December 31st 2019. The partners gain similar rights and responsibilities to married couples. You can hold a partnership ceremony at any of our approved premises. Once you decide what kind of union you want to form, get in touch with us to start the process. This handy PDF from the Gov.uk website lays out the similarities and differences for same sex and opposite sex marriages and civil partnerships.
The requirements, procedures and costs for giving notice and forming a civil partnership are the same as getting married. Couples must still give notice at least 28 days in advance of their ceremony, and must provide two witnesses.
The main difference to the ceremony is that a civil partnership can legally be formed by the couple signing a document without repeating any words. However, many couples still choose to mark the occasion by exchanging vows.
Converting a civil partnership to a marriage
Same sex couples who previously registered their civil partnership in England and Wales are now able to convert their partnership to a marriage. This can be done with a simple administrative process, or can include a ceremony if you wish. You will be treated as having been married since the date the civil partnership was formed. It is not currently possible for opposite sex couples who formed a civil partnership from following the legislation introduction in 2019 onwards to convert their partnership to a marriage, as both options were available to them at the time of forming their union.
The standard conversion
This is a simple administrative process where you will both attend an appointment at any register office and complete a declaration with details about you and your civil partnership. You can choose to say the words aloud, or simply sign the conversion document. You will then be issued with a marriage certificate. The documents that you will need to produce include:
- evidence of your name and date of birth – current passports or birth certificates
- evidence of your address – recent Council Tax or utilities bill
- an original civil partnership certificate
The charge for a standard conversion is lists in our Costs section.
A conversion followed by a ceremony
You may choose to attend an appointment to provide your details for the conversion, and then have a public ceremony at one of our approved venues or register offices where you will sign the conversion document in the presence of your friends and family, and be issued with your marriage certificate. The cost will be the same as our wedding fees.
Advice for non-UK citizens
Following Brexit, changes took place on 1st July 2021 regarding couples planning to marry or form a partnership where one or both are not UK citizens, do not have indefinite leave to remain or are EU/EEA citizens without settled status. After July 1st 2021, EU citizens will join other foreign nationals in being required to have a visa to get married or form a civil partnership in the UK. Please see the GOV.uk website for more details on the requirements.
If either one of you doesn’t have the required immigration status listed above, you will need to attend a notice of marriage appointment together in a district where one of you has been resident for at least 7 days. You will need to email or phone your request for a notice appointment if you live in Somerset or North Somerset as these can’t be booked in using our online booking system. Please let us know details of your nationality, current immigration status, your intended ceremony date and venue and whether this has already been booked. The notice process can take up to 71 days, as details need to be referred to the Home Office to be checked.
The statutory costs for giving notice and dealing with foreign paperwork are a little higher than the basic fees. You can find details of the associated charges on our Costs page.
Getting Married Abroad
If you are planning a legal ceremony in another country then you will need to comply with the local legal requirements. These requirements vary from country to country, so you will need to do some research to make sure you have all the right documentation and can comply with any residency rules. You can use the Getting Married Abroad tool on the gov.uk website to find out who you will need to contact for advice.
You may need to get a Certificate of No Impediment, also known as a CNI or CONI. These are issued to British nationals at the local register office in the district where they live, in the same way that you would give notice for a UK ceremony. The documents that you will need to provide are the same as for giving notice. You can find an up to date list on our Giving Notice page. You will need to know the town and country where your ceremony will take place, with accurate spelling. The CONI will be issued after 28 days in the same way that marriage authorities are granted after giving notice. To book a CONI appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your plans.
You should also check how long the certificate will be valid for in your destination country, whether they will require you to contact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for an apostille – a special certificate that makes documents from one country valid in another.
As long as you follow the laws and requirements for the country where you have your marriage or partnership ceremony and it is legally recognised by that government, then it should be legally recognised by the UK. You can only be registered as married in one place, so you cannot also have a legal ceremony here. However, we are very happy to offer blessing or renewal of vow ceremonies either before or after your overseas ceremony if you would like to celebrate with friends and family here. Just make a booking request via our contact page and we can run through next steps with you.
No Trace Of Marriage Document
If you are moving abroad and need to provide an unmarried status declaration, you need to apply to the General Register Office (GRO). They can issue a letter, known as a No Trace Of Marriage document, confirming that there is no evidence of a marriage within a set period of time. You can contact GRO on 0300 1231 837 for information on requesting this document. It normally takes around 3 weeks for them to issue the letter. We regret that regional Register Offices are unable to issue these letters.
Getting married at 16
If you want to get married or form a civil partnership at 16 or 17, you must have consent from both parents with parental responsibility. Please ask us for advice on who would be able to provide this consent if you’re not sure.
What name you use after marriage or partnership is entirely your decision. Your name won’t change automatically. Your certificate will show your names as you were legally known on the day of your ceremony as that was your identity at the time you formed that legal contract with each other. Both partners can keep their own names, change or combine their names. You don’t need a deed poll to take your spouse’s or civil partner’s surname. Just send a copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate to record-holders such as the Passport Office, Benefits Agency or DVLA. Your documents will be updated for free. If you want to change your name to something completely different, you will need a deed poll. You can view a guide here on the Gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll
Changing Your Passport
If you’re going abroad on a honeymoon, you need to make sure the name on your passport matches your booking. You don’t need to change your name immediately following the wedding, and it’s completely normal, and often much more convenient, to wait until after your holiday. You will need to send your certificate when you apply for a passport in your new name, along with your old passport which will be cancelled.
It’s possible to apply for a new passport up to 3 months before your ceremony to show your married name, if this is very important to you. Your old passport will be cancelled and your new one post-dated, so you won’t be able to use it before the ceremony so it is advisable to give notice of marriage before you send off your documents. You will need to request documentation from the Registration Service as proof of your intended marriage to send in with your passport renewal. Please be aware that if your ceremony is postponed for any reason, this may complicate the matter.
The Eternity Ceremony is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on your marriage or civil partnership and look forward to the future in the presence of your family and friends. It is available to any married or civil partnered couple who wish to renew their commitment in a joyful celebration. It is also a great alternative if you choose to have a small legal ceremony and want to celebrate later on with more family and friends – a very popular choice after covid restrictions!
The format is similar to a civil ceremony, and because it has no legal status we can be more flexible with the content. Our ceremony team will get in touch with you in advance to personalise your unique ceremony. Formal or relaxed, we can tailor the experience to suit your wishes. Our team of professional celebrants are experienced in conducting ceremonies and making each couple’s day truly special. Each ceremony lasts approximately 30 minutes depending on your requirements. The cost is the same as a wedding booking at one of our ceremony rooms or approved venues. Get in touch with our team to find out more by making a booking request on our contact page.