You can choose to include one reading which will be read by one of your guests, or personal vows to each other. Your reading/vows needs to be kept to a 2000 character limit to ensure ceremonies do not overrun.
Registrars can only perform civil ceremonies, which must be free of all religious connotations, which means that the “Song of Songs”, or St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (“Love is patient, love is kind” etc.) cannot be read at a civil ceremony. If you have a reading that mentions God or heaven or similar, but you don’t think it is a religious reading, you can submit it on the form below and we will check whether it is acceptable.
Similarly, personal vows must not have any religious connotation, or be taken from any religious ceremony. The words ‘to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part’ are part of the Church of England marriage vows, and so you are not able to use them in a civil ceremony. You may like to consider different words for your personal vows with the same meaning, like ‘I promise to love, honour and care for you, to support you through good fortune and adversity, joy and sadness, as long as we both shall live’.
Other than religious content, which can’t be used, civil ceremonies must, by law, be ‘seemly and dignified’. This means that we reserve the right to ask you to change your reading or personal vows if we think they are unsuitable. It’s fine to include humour, but we will decline vows containing adult language and/or topics. We will contact you if you need to replace or amend your reading/vows.
If you would like some more information on writing your own vows, please click here to see an article written by Elle, with advice from Islington Registrars, that may help you.
Even if your reading or personal vows are a secret or surprise, we still need you to submit them on the form below, rather than by any other method.