Guide to planning your ceremony

Guide to planning your ceremony

1. Type of ceremony

The first decision you'll need to make is if you'd like a religious ceremony in a church or chapel (which must hold a licence for marriage) or a civil ceremony at the Register Office or at an approved premises.

2. Select a venue

Once you've chosen the type of ceremony that you’d like, you’ll need to choose a suitable venue.

  • For religious wedding you’ll need to contact your local church or place of worship
  • For civil weddings and civil partnerships you can book any register office in England or Wales or an approved venue in any district of England and Wales (such as a hotel or stately home)

You're required to name the venue where your ceremony will take place when you give notice, so you must have decided on the venue for your wedding or civil partnership before you attend Bristol Register Office to do this. If you change the venue you will need to give, and pay for, fresh notices of marriage or civil partnership.

You'll need to contact the venue where you wish to get married or enter into a civil partnership and make a provisional booking for your chosen date.

You don’t have to live in Bristol to have your ceremony here. The venues we list have all been granted a license for marriage and civil partnership ceremonies.

Find an approved venue in Bristol.

3. Book registrars

A civil marriage or partnership is a non-religious ceremony performed by two registrars. Once you've made a provisional booking with your chosen venue you’ll need to confirm with the Register Office that registrars will be available on that day and time for your ceremony. 

Once you've got a provisional booking with your chosen venue, you can check the availability to book registrars for your ceremony up to two years in advance by calling the Bristol Register Office on 0117 922 2800.

We recommend that you book early to ensure that registrars are available on your chosen date.

4. Give notice of marriage or civil partnership

When and where to give notice

Once you've confirmed a registrar's availability for the date and time, and have a provisional venue booking, you'll be able to make an appointment to give notice of intention at a register office.

The notice is a legal statement which must be signed by you and the person you are marrying or civil partnering. You need to give 28 days from giving notice of marriage to the ceremony.

If you or your partner are subject to immigration control, the notice period may be extended to 70 days.

You must both give notice in person. The law requires you to give notice in the district where you have both lived for at least seven consecutive nights.

If you or your partner are subject to immigration control, you'll need to give notice to marry or register your civil partnership at a Designated Register Office. There are 76 designated register offices in England and Wales, including Bristol Register Office. 

Book an appointment to give notice

Call us on 0117 922 2800.

Lines are open 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Closed Wednesday 12noon to 1.30pm.

Appointments are available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9.00am to 3.30pm and Wednesday 10.00 am to 3.30pm.


You'll need to pay a statutory fee of either £35 or £47 each when you give notice. You’ll be told which fee you’ll need to pay when you make an appointment.

There's an additional fee of £10 per appointment for notice appointments outside standard times:

  • Wednesday evenings, 5pm to 7pm
  • Saturdays, 9.30am to 2.30pm

You pay this when you book.

Documents to take to the Register Office

You’ll need:

  • your passport (if you don’t have a passport or your passport has expired please call us on 0117 922 2800)
  • proof of address for each partner, this needs to be one of the following:
    • bank statement dated no more than 1 month before the appointment
    • utility bill dated no more than 3 months before the appointment
    • current council tax bill
    • mortgage statement or tenancy agreement
    • valid driving licence with the correct address shown
  • proof of your divorce or dissolution, if you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before. If your divorce was granted outside of the UK we’ll need the original document from that country along with an English translation if applicable. At the time of the appointment, a fee of either £50 or £75 is payable for the consideration of any divorce granted outside the British Isles. This will be done by either the register office or the General Register Office, dependent on where the divorce was granted, and will enable your ceremony to go ahead.
  • if either of you are a widow or widower we’ll need a certified copy of your former spouse’s death certificate and the marriage or civil partnership certificate, along with an English translation if applicable
  • if either of you are under 18 you’ll need consent from your parents or guardian. Each parent who is named on your birth certificate must give this consent. They’ll need to fill in a form which you can get from the Register Office and must fill in before your appointment
  • if you’re a non-EU national you need to bring evidence of your immigration status and a passport size photo of each of you

What happens at the appointment

The Superintendent Registrar or one of their deputies will interview you and your partner. This normally takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

You'll be taken to a private office and will be interviewed separately. They'll ask you a series of questions about each other to confirm personal details and when the wedding or civil partnership is to take place.

Getting married or civil partnered quickly

You can only get married or have a civil partnership quickly where one of you is terminally ill and is not expected to recover.

For Church of England ceremonies, you must contact a clergyman of the Church of England.

For a civil marriage or civil partnership ceremonies contact the Registrar Office of the district where the terminally ill person is currently located. Call us on 0117 922 2800 to find out who this is.

5. What your ceremony will cost

Cost of registering a marriage or civil partnership 

You have to pay a £30 non-refundable booking fee when booking a ceremony at the register office. 

The standard marriage or civil partnership certificate costs £4 at the time the marriage or civil partnership is recorded by the registrar, or £10 if you request it after. You may need a copy to prove your marital status in the future.

Cost of a registrar attending a marriage or civil partnership at the Old Council House:

The Mayoral Room, Old Council House  

Monday to Friday: £200

Saturday: £250

The Lantern Room, Old Council House 

Monday to Friday: £625
Saturday: £740
Sunday: £915
Bank Holiday: £920

The Grand Council Chamber, The Old Council House

Monday to Friday: £795
Saturday:  £855
Sunday: £1095
Bank Holiday: £1100

The Statutory Room, The Old Council House

Monday and Tuesday: £50

Registrar fees for alternative venues 

For prices from 1 April 2019 call the register office on 0117 922 2800.

Monday to Saturday: £385
Sunday: £400
Bank Holiday: £480

Terms and conditions

See our Register Office terms and conditions (pdf, 295KB) (opens new window)