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Wedding Planning – The Legal Lowdown

Are you getting ready to give your marriage notice in Leicestershire? There are lots of very, VERY old laws surrounding getting married and they tend to be the last thing on your mind as a newly-engaged, hyper-excited couple! Let me help get the boring, yet very necessary, legal bits and bobs sorted. That way, you can spend your energy focussing on the way more exciting parts. Like flowers, bunting, who’s sitting where, cute little edible favours… ok, don’t get me started. There are so many little details I love to photograph for you!

Basic Legal Requirements

It might sound obvious, but you must both be aged 16 or over and if you’re under 18, you will need parental permission to marry. You must also be single and available to marry and not closely related. I know. Obvious! And yet very important.

There are no restrictions on the time of day that you can get married anymore (in olden times, daylight was required so the groom wasn’t hoodwinked into marrying a different bride, hidden under a veil!!) but you still need two witnesses present. Humanist ceremonies are not legally binding. Neither are outdoor weddings (except under a registered structure) but you can do both as long as you also have a legally binding ceremony as well.

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Religious/Civil wedding venues in Leicestershire – or an outside ceremony

Any building you choose for your wedding must be registered for weddings. There are plenty of civil wedding venues around, some absolutely stunning options in Leicestershire. Most churches and religious buildings are also registered, but double check with the minister in question. A religious ceremony can be registered by an authorised minister. However, if the minister isn’t authorised, you can simply book a registrar to attend the ceremony (this costs £86).

Getting married at a register office will cost £46 for the registrar. If you choose a different civil wedding venue then there will be a different cost for the registrar to attend.

It is legal to get married outdoors in England, but this must be under a fixed structure that has been licensed.

Same-sex couples who would like a religious ceremony need to ensure that the building has specifically been registered for same-sex marriage.

outdoor wedding ceremony bright sunshine blue sky civil wedding ceremony

Before you head off to the register office to fulfil the main legal requirement, giving notice, it’s important to have chosen and booked your date and venue. So this is your first port of call in wedding planning.

Giving marriage notice Leicestershire

Leicestershire has a register office in each district – Melton, Loughborough, Market Harborough, Hinckley, Wigston, City, County Hall, Coalville and Rutland. Giving notice involves attending the register office in your area and signing a legal statement about your intention to marry. This notice must be given at least 28 days before your wedding date, but the ceremony must also take place within 12 months. Giving notice costs £35 each and you can pay upfront for your marriage certificate at this time.

Your local register office is the one in the registration district where you live. You must have lived there for the past 7 days and if you live in different registration districts, you must give notice separately.

To give marriage notice in Leicestershire, you need to take the following ORIGINAL documents with you.

  • Proof of name/age/nationality (a valid passport) (or UK birth certificate only if you were born before 1983)
  • Proof of name change if necessary (deed poll)
  • Decree absolute if you are divorced/death certificate if you are widowed
  • Wedding date and venue plans
  • Proof of home address (a UK driving licence, a utility bill from the last 3 months, a bank statement from the last month, a council tax bill/a mortgage statement from the last 12 months or a current tenancy agreement/letter from your landlord dated in the last 7 days)

If you are having a religious wedding ceremony, it may not be necessary to visit the registrar. Wedding banns are traditionally read out in the parish church where both of you live as well as the church in which you intend to marry. They are read out for 3 Sundays within the 3 months before you get married and as well as being a legal requirement, they are a beautiful announcement of your intention to wed.

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The exchanging of vows is a legal requirement if you are getting married but not if you are forming a civil partnership (which is only same-sex couples). Any other wording you’d like to include can be discussed with your registrar or minister.  That can include extra vows if you want to be totally unique. If you have opted for a civil ceremony then you cannot include religious readings or music.

Changing your name and ‘status’

If you are female and choosing to take your partner’s name, let the minister or registrar know. It’s that easy. You will need your marriage or civil partnership certificate as evidence when contacting other organisations to let them know. It’s wise to update your name and marital status with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HMRC, DVLA, your banks and private pension schemes as soon as you can after the wedding. You can travel on your honeymoon on a passport with your maiden name as long as you booked the holiday in your maiden name. Easier to change that once you return!

If you’re not female and taking your partner’s name but you still want to change surname, you need to do so by deed poll.

leicestershire wedding photography bride and groom embrace in front of country house ruins, winter wedding

More information

If either of you is not a British National then extra laws will apply before you can legally wed in the UK. The law also varies if you are getting married in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. For full facts and legal requirements take a look at


Now moving onto the rest of your wedding planning, the exciting stuff. If you want a monthly run down of the upcoming wedding fairs, sales and other events in Leicestershire, make sure to sign up to my emails.