Photo credit: www.sammytaylorweddingphotography.com

Please find below our most frequently asked questions about ceremonies at the moment, taking into account public health advice, registration law, and Islington Council policies.

This information was updated on 12 May 2022, but please note that the advice may change later.

The questions are divided into the following categories:

  • Booking the ceremony
  • Giving notice
  • Planning the day (Town Hall ceremonies)
  • Planning the ceremony (Town Hall ceremonies)
  • Ceremonies at licenced venues
  • After the ceremony
  • Holding your ceremony outdoors

If you have a question which is not on this list, please email registrars@islington.gov.uk and we will try our best to answer it.

Booking the ceremony

Please click on the booking buttons at the top of the page. We are currently taking bookings up to the end of December 2023.

We aim to be able to open up our diary for 2024 bookings by the end of 2022.

If you would like to be updated when the diary opens, please email registrars@islington.gov.uk and we will email you as soon 2024 bookings are live!

Alternatively, please check back to this page in December 2022 for updates, or follow us on Instagram, where we announce the diary opening each year.

Our room capacities at the Town Hall are:

  • The Council Chamber- 50 guests*
  • Room 99- 12 guests*
  • Statutory Room – 2 guests*

* This number includes the witnesses/guests of any age, including children and babies. The couple, registrars, and one professional photographer do not count toward this number.

These guest numbers are the maximum allowed following our fire and health and safety risk assessments, and will not increase any further.

For any other venue:

The venue’s ceremony licence and risk assessments will determine the size of the ceremony. Please contact your venue for confirmation of guest numbers.

A marriage in England and Wales can be between same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Marriages can be civil or religious (although most religions don’t offer same-sex marriages). At the Town Hall and our licenced venues, we perform only civil marriages which means no religious content can be incorporated. As marriage is a verbal contract, therefore you must say prescribed words to be legally married. After a marriage ceremony you will be declared to be husband and wife, husband and husband, or wife and wife. Your legal status will be ‘married’.

A civil partnership in England and Wales can also be between same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Again, no religious content can be included. Civil partnership is a written contract, which means you do not have to make legal vows to each other, you can just sign the paperwork with your witnesses if you prefer, although we always offer our couples the choice of a ceremony or a simple signing. After a civil partnership ceremony, you will be declared to be civil partners in law. Your legal status will be ‘civil partner’. A civil partnership between same-sex couples can be converted into a marriage at a later date if the couple choose to do so.

The legal preliminaries to marriage and civil partnership (giving notice) are the same, as are the fees for each ceremony.

Couples are advised to complete further research before booking a ceremony, particularly if either party is a national of another country or you are planning to live abroad, as there are differences in how a marriage and a civil partnership are recognised in other countries.

At this time opposite-sex couples are not able to convert their marriage into a civil partnership but if the law changes, we will update this page.

If you would like more information on the differences between a marriage and a civil partnership, please visit gov.uk for the government’s advice.

‘Civil ceremony’ is a term we use to make it clear that the ceremony has no religious content. The term covers both marriages and civil partnerships.

No! You can choose any licenced building in England or Wales. A licenced venue can be any non-religious building that has applied for and been granted a licence to hold civil ceremonies on its premises, such as a hotel or restaurant.

The only exception to this is the statutory room, which is only available to Islington and City of London (the square mile) residents.

We are planning to resume tours soon, so please check back to this website or our Instagram, where we will post details of upcoming tours.

 

If you are having your ceremony at Islington Town Hall, the cost includes the use of the room, the registrars’ attendance to conduct the ceremony and complete the legal paperwork, and one marriage or civil partnership certificate.

If you are having your ceremony at a licenced ceremony venue, the cost includes the registrars’ attendance to conduct the ceremony and complete the legal paperwork, and one marriage or civil partnership certificate. You will need to book the ceremony venue directly with their staff.

Giving notice

After you have booked your ceremony, you are both legally required to give a Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership, in person, at a Register Office.

This means making an in-person appointment to see a registrar to show them proof of your identity, address and that you are free to marry/form a civil partnership, and fill out some paperwork. This can be done up to a year in advance, but must be done at least one month before the ceremony.

The information will be placed on a noticeboard at the Register Office for 28 clear days for anyone to make any legal objections. If there are none, the legal paperwork will be issued to the Register Office who will be conducting your ceremony.

It is very important that you give the correct notice for the type of ceremony you are planning, as legally this cannot be changed at a later date. For example; if a couple gives notice for a marriage but then decides they would prefer a civil partnership, they would need to pay to give a new notice; provide their documents again, and wait another month.

If you are both British or Irish nationals, or have pre-settled or settled status, or a pending application for pre-settled or settled status made before 30 June 2021,  you will do this in the Register Office for the council area each of you live in, even if that is not the one you are having your ceremony in.

If either if you are not any of the above, you will do this together in the Register Office for the council area at least one of you lives in, even if that is not the one you are having your ceremony in.

Only residents of the London Borough of Islington on the City of London (the ‘square mile’) should come to Islington Register Office for their notice.

Please see our notice booking page for full details on giving notice, and book an appointment if you live in the London Borough of Islington on the City of London (the ‘square mile’).

Most people need to bring passports and recent proof of address like a bank statement or utility bill.

If you have been married or in a civil partnership before, you will need to show proof that that union has ended. This could be a death certificate, decree absolute or final dissolution of civil partnership document.

This is a brief outline, so please see our notice booking page for the full details.

Whatever nationality or immigration status you are, you both need to set up residency in, and give notice of marriage/civil partnership in England or Wales to have your ceremony in England or Wales.

Please visit this page for more information.

Marriage and civil partnership law requires an in-person, face-to-face interview with a registrar to give notice, and so notice cannot be given by proxy, in writing, by video call, online or by any other method.

Sadly, no. The notice of marriage or civil partnership is a statutory legal requirement by the General Register Office, which is out of the local authorities’ control. Notices last one year from the date of the appointment at the Register Office.

If your notice of marriage or civil partnership expires before your new date, a new notice will have to be given.

No, unfortunately, the notice that you have given is for your original location and it cannot legally be moved to another location.

A new notice will have to be given.

No, we will only contact you if there is a legal objection or another problem with your notice.

Planning the day

(Town Hall ceremonies)

Yes. There is a ramp to the Town Hall building and lifts to all levels, as well as accessible bathrooms.

Guide dogs and other trained assistance animals are welcomed. Your animal should wear their vest to show that they are a trained assistance animal and not just your pet. If your animal does not have a vest, please bring the paperwork to show that they are a trained assistance animal.

We have limited special access parking spaces available on the Town Hall forecourt, and these need to be booked well in advance by emailing securitytownhall@islington.gov.uk

If you or any of your guests have a disability, please click here to complete a personal emergency evacuation plan form so we can ensure safety on your ceremony day.

We don’t have general parking available at the Town Hall, so we advise your guests to arrive by public transport.

If you or your guests have a disability, we have limited special access parking spaces available on the Town Hall forecourt, and these need to be booked well in advance by emailing securitytownhall@islington.gov.uk

Chauffeured cars, taxis and buses are able to stop outside the building to drop off or collect couples or guests.

Covid-19 is still present in the population, and there is still a need for caution. The safety of our staff, our customers, and our community is our highest priority.

Please postpone the marriage/civil partnership if you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus or are testing positive.

We recommend you and your guests take lateral flow tests before attending your ceremony.

We are asking all couples and guests to continue to take sensible precautions to help our service remain open to register births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships. We are sure you can appreciate that we are privileged enough to attend lots of special days, and we would be devastated to have to cancel ceremonies if our staff become unwell after coming into contact with ceremony parties.

While this could be a fun thought, the only animals permitted in the Town Hall are guide dogs and other assistance animals. Your animal should wear their vest to show that they are a trained assistance animal and not just your pet. If your animal does not have a vest, please bring the paperwork to show that they are a trained assistance animal.

We have floral arrangements in each ceremony room so there is no need to bring your own.

You are welcome to bring your own personal flowers with you, but you won’t be able to take them into the room beforehand. They will need to be brought into and taken out of the room within the ceremony slot you have booked.

Sadly no.

Our rooms are used for more than one ceremony a day, so we are unable to allow access to decorate the room before your ceremony.

In addition to this, Islington Town Hall is a listed building so we can’t allow anything to be attached to the walls or chairs.

You are welcome to bring a floral display to place on the registrars’ table at the front of the room, but this will need to be brought into and taken out of the room within the ceremony slot you have booked.

Unfortunately, no. There is not enough time between ceremonies to rearrange the seating or layout.

There is no storage space at the Town Hall, so having deliveries made in advance of your ceremony is not possible.

No, only public bathrooms.

Each room has a strict maximum number of people that can be safely accommodated, decided by fire regulations. If your guests exceed the number allowed in the room, then some of them will be asked to remain outside the building.

If you find out after you book a room that it will be too small for your expected guest numbers, and you wish to move the ceremony to a larger room, contact us and we will check the availability of other rooms on your chosen date. Extra costs will apply if there is a difference in fees between the rooms.

If you are seeing each other before the start of the ceremony, please both arrive with your guests around 15 minutes before the ceremony start time.

If you don’t want to see each other before the start of the ceremony, we would advise that one partner arrives with the guests around 15 minutes before the ceremony start time, and the other partner about 10 minutes before. This way your ceremony should be able to start on time.

Please note that here is no facility to conduct separate interviews in Room 99, or the statutory room at any time, so if you have chosen one of these rooms, you will need to be interviewed together.

It is extremely important that you are all on time, as priority must be given to cleaning the room between ceremonies.

If you are seeing each other before the start of the ceremony, please both arrive with your guests around 15 minutes before the ceremony start time.

If you don’t want to see each other before the start of the ceremony, we would advise that one partner arrives with the guests around 15 minutes before the ceremony start time, and the other partner about 10 minutes before. This way your ceremony should be able to start on time.

By both arriving at different times we are able to minimise the risk of you accidently running into each other before the ceremony begins. At the Town Hall we have our own ushers to assist you once you enter the building.

Please note that here is no facility to conduct separate interviews in Room 99 or the statutory room at any time, so if you have chosen one of these rooms, you will need to be interviewed together.

Our staff will show your guests to the ceremony room, and show you and your partner to another room/s to for your pre-ceremony interview.

You will then enter the ceremony room and the ceremony will begin. The ceremony with no added personalisation takes around 20 minutes to complete, including the signing of the paperwork. If you are adding readings and/or personal vows, please allow 30-40 minutes for your ceremony.

You will then be able to take some photographs inside and outside the Town Hall building, and then you will be able to continue your celebrations elsewhere as planned.

Before the ceremony, you and your partner will need to check the details to go on the marriage or civil partnership certificate.

The registrars will take you to a private room, and ask you the same questions you were asked when you gave notice, for example, your full name and date of birth etc. This is to make sure that the details on the legal record of your marriage/civil partnership are correct and up-to-date on the day of your ceremony.

They will then ask you to visually check the paperwork to make sure it is correct.

It is very important that you check the paperwork very carefully, as any mistakes noticed after the paperwork is signed will need a formal correction request made to the General Register Office for a fee of £90.00.

You do not need to bring any identification to this interview, unless our staff have specifically advised you to bring documents because of your individual circumstances.

There are some details that could change such as your address and occupation. If these details change before the day of your ceremony, there is nothing you need to do. You do not need to bring any documents to support those changes; you just need to confirm them with the registrar at the interview.

If anything else changes, like your name, please email us at registrars@islington.gov.uk as soon as possible to discuss what is required.

In the Council Chamber, you are able to invite up to 6 live musicians. Please note that bagpipes and drums cannot be played inside the Town Hall as they can be heard in other ceremony rooms.

Live musicians can’t be accommodated in Room 99, and recorded music is not used in Room 99 or the statutory room on weekdays, as these ceremonies are short and simple. Please see the ‘Planning the ceremony (ceremonies in Room 99 and statutory room)’ section of this page for more information on these ceremonies.

We aim to be able to give you access 15 minutes before your scheduled ceremony start time.

Our staff will show your guests into the ceremony room when it is ready.

Photographers and musicians will only be able to enter the room when the room is clean and ready. This may mean they are not able to enter the room before the guests.

A member of staff will show the ceremony party into the room at the right time.

The whole ceremony will need to be legally conducted by one of our registrars, though your friends and family can read poems etc.

Yes, you are welcome to, but please be aware we don’t have reliable Wi-Fi in all of the Town Hall ceremony rooms, so you will need to use your own data.

Legally, you need to choose two witnesses who will attend and sign to say they have witnessed the ceremony/signing.

The size and layout of the schedule document that they sign means that you are not able to include more than two witnesses.

Yes, they can be anyone you like, as long as they speak good English and are an adult.

If either you or your partner requires an interpreter, that person must also act as one of your two witnesses.

You need to bring your own witnesses as we do not have the staff levels to supply them.

You should always sign the schedule in the name you are using at the time. If you are planning to change your name after the ceremony, you could consider this to be the last time you sign in your old name.

Yes, you will be able to take some photographs inside the Town Hall building after the ceremony.

We don’t limit the amount of time you are able to have pictures, but we do ask that you are considerate of other couples who also want to take pictures.

You can also have some photographs on the steps outside.

We do not permit anything messy, potentially damaging, or on fire! You are welcome to have these things outside of the building, as long as it doesn’t cause damage, and it is legal to do so. If you have something in mind that is unusual but not messy/hazardous/on fire, please ask us beforehand if it will be possible.

We also only permit the use of eco-friendly options like biodegradable confetti outside the Town Hall. Rice is not permitted as it poses health and safety risks with the stairs in inclement weather and attracts pigeons.

There is no alcohol permitted at any time, in any of the rooms in the Town Hall, as we don’t have an alcohol licence. You are welcome to have that celebratory glass of champagne outside instead, just as long as you aren’t impeding the access of other ceremony parties.

Although there is no facility for holding any kind of reception within the Town Hall, the Islington Assembly Hall next door to the Town Hall can be hired for ceremonies and receptions. For availability and costs, please email contact them directly at assemblyhall@islington.gov.uk

While there is no parking on Upper Street outside the Town Hall, your booked transport will be allowed to stop there long enough for you and your guests to get on.

Most ceremonies will take about 20 minutes for a very simple ceremony, to 40 minutes for a ceremony with three readings and personal vows, including photographs.

Ideally your transport should be there waiting for you as you all emerge from the Town Hall ready to whisk you away to your reception.

In our experience, there is no need for a rehearsal, and we do not offer rehearsals at Islington and London City.

Planning the ceremony

(ceremonies in Room 99 and statutory room)

Ceremonies in Room 99 and the statutory room are shorter, simple ceremony timeslots, offered for couples who would prefer this kind of ceremony.

There is no facility to conduct separate interviews in Room 99 or the statutory room at any time, and if you do not wish to see each other prior to the ceremony, or if you want to fully personalise your ceremony, you will need to book one of our other rooms.

We are not able to offer ceremony co-ordination meetings for any ceremonies in Room 99 or the statutory room.

On weekdays, personalisation of the content of the ceremony is not offered for ceremonies in Room 99 or the statutory room, as the ceremony timeslot is too short to allow it, so the ceremony will be short and simple.

No readings, entrances to the room, personal vows, music or other personal elements can be accommodated, other than the exchange of rings.

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, which will go through the details for your specific date.

On Saturdays, some personalisation of the content of the ceremony is offered for ceremonies in Room 99, as the ceremony timeslot is slightly longer.

You can choose to add:

  • a partner entrance
  • one non-religious reading
  • pre-recorded music at specific points

No coordination meeting with the registrar, extra readings, personal vows, live music or other personal elements can be accommodated, other than the exchange of rings.

If you wish to ‘make an entrance’ please note that you both need to be seen together for interview just before your marriage/civil partnership. After the interview you will be accompanied to the room ready for your entrance.

The size the door of Room 99 does not allow for two people walking side-by-side, and the distance to the couple’s chairs is very short, so we don’t recommend someone ‘walks you down the aisle’ although you are able to do this if you wish. If you are choosing to walk in with another person, please let the registrar know on the day who that person is, so that they can remain outside the room ready for your entrance.

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, which will go through the details for your specific date, and you can list the choices you have made.

Statutory room ceremonies are not offered on Saturdays.

As civil partnership law is different from marriage law, there are no legal words you need to say, so if you would prefer to simply sign the paperwork with your witnesses you can.

Many couples like to have a ceremony and make promises to each other as a public pledge of their love and commitment, even though it is not a legal requirement. You will need to book a ceremony room and timeslot for the civil partnership paperwork to be done whether you are choosing to have a ceremony or not.

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, which will go through the details for your specific date, and you can list the choice you have made.

That is fine. Although we would encourage you to celebrate both ceremony days in these circumstances, on weekdays Room 99 and statutory ceremonies are always very simple, and for Saturday ceremonies you can choose the most simple options for your ceremony.

During the marriage ceremony you will make two legal declarations before your witnesses, guests and the registrars. You will declare your freedom to marry one another, and then accept one another as husband or wife.

For civil partnership couples the words themselves are not legally binding, but will be verbal promises made to each other.

These words do not need to be memorised as you will repeat them, a few at a time, after the registrar.

Not at all. The exchanging of rings is a traditional part of a ceremony rather than a legal requirement. Some couples choose to exchange only one ring, some choose a different token personal to themselves, and others choose not to include this part of the ceremony at all.

At the end you will be announced as husband/wife and husband/wife, or as civil partners, and will sign the marriage or civil partnership schedule, the legal record of your union, with your witnesses.

Your guests will then be invited to congratulate you both as you leave the room together, and then they will follow you.

Planning the ceremony

(ceremonies in the Council Chamber)

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, which will go through the details for your specific date, and you can list the personalisation choices you have made.

That is fine. Although we would encourage you to celebrate both ceremony days in these circumstances, you can choose the most simple options for your ceremony.

For weekend ceremonies in the Council Chamber, a registrar will be allocated a month before. Once we have sent you your pre-ceremony organiser, and you have completed and returned it, please email registrars@islington.gov.uk and we will put you in touch with them.

At this time we are not able to offer in-person co-ordinations, but you can arrange to ‘virtually meet’ the registrar by video call or talk on the phone at a time of mutual convenience to discuss your ceremony.

If your ceremony is on a weekday, it will be conducted by one of our experienced registrars. We are unable to allocate a specific registrar as there are occasions where substitutions need to be made due to unforeseen circumstances.

We do not offer a choice of registrar based on their personal characteristics.

No. Please choose the entrance that suits you, whether you enter the room together, with parents, with bridesmaids, with your children or however you prefer.

Ceremonies in the Council Chamber can add the following personalisation:

  • a choice of four ceremony scripts (or the option to write your own)
  • up to three readings
  • personal vows
  • music at specific points in the ceremony

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, where you can list the choices you have made.

Please note all that readings, wording and music must not be from religious texts, or contain religious messages.

You can see the links to the scripts we are currently using by clicking on the links below, depending on the type of ceremony you have chosen:

Please note that scripts are subject to change, and you will be sent the most up to date scripts to choose from at least a month before your ceremony, with the form we ask you to complete.

If you want to combine several of our ceremony scripts, or write something totally unique, you are able to in the Council Chamber.

Please note that the ceremony must contain the legal parts of the ceremony (the wording in bold in our ceremony scripts), and the wording must not be from a religious ceremony, religious texts, or contain religious messages.

If you are interested in writing a personalised ceremony, please see the links below to see the order and structure of a ceremony for you to use as a template:

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, where you can attach the script you have written.

We reserve the right to ask you to change the script if we feel it is not suitable for a civil ceremony.

As civil partnership law is different from marriage law, there are no legal words you need to say, so if you would prefer to simply sign the paperwork with your witnesses you can.

Many couples like to have a ceremony and make promises to each other as a public pledge of their love and commitment, even though it is not a legal requirement. You will need to book a ceremony room and timeslot for the civil partnership paperwork to be done whether you are choosing to have a ceremony or not.

On the form we send you at least a month before the ceremony, you can let us know whether you would prefer a ceremony or a signing.

During the marriage ceremony you will make two legal declarations before your witnesses, guests and the registrars. You will declare your freedom to marry one another, and then accept one another as husband or wife.

For civil partnership couples the words themselves are not legally binding, but will be verbal promises made to each other.

These words do not need to be memorised as you will repeat them, a few at a time, after the registrar.

In a civil ceremony you will not be asked to obey your partner. ‘Obeying’ was historically a part of some religious wedding ceremonies, but has never been part of the legal wording of a civil ceremony.

Not at all. The exchanging of rings is a traditional part of a ceremony rather than a legal requirement. Some couples choose to exchange only one ring, some choose a different token personal to themselves, and others choose not to include this part of the ceremony at all.

If you wish to have recorded music in the Council Chamber, please choose someone from your ceremony party to control the music from a phone or tablet. Our staff will show them where to plug the device into our sound system, or help them to connect with Bluetooth.

You are able to invite up to 6 live musicians, following the terms of our risk assessment. If they require amplification they will need to bring that themselves. Bagpipes and drums cannot be played inside the Town Hall, as they can be heard in other ceremony rooms, but they can be played outside the building. Please note that musicians may not be able to access the room earlier than your guests, due to cleaning between ceremonies.

Please bring a phone or tablet with the music on it, and our staff will help you plug it into our sound system. We advise that you download the music onto the device, rather than rely on streaming.

The connection to the sound system is a standard headphone jack, but we do have adapters in the rooms so that Iphones/Ipads can be used as well. You can also connect via Bluetooth.

It is requested that you choose one of your guests to be in charge of playing the music. They will be shown where the connections are, and all cues for when to play the music will be given by the registrar.

Unfortunately, we are unable to incorporate religious music (whether words or music) into a civil ceremony, which must be free of all religious connotations.

If you would like a song that mentions God or heaven or similar, but you don’t think it is a religious song, please email us and ask. For example, “Angels” by Robbie Williams and “I Say A Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin are not considered religious songs although they mention angels and prayer.

There are also some popular pieces of music such as Wagner’s “The Wedding March” from Lohengrin (more popularly referred to as “Here Comes the Bride”) which was written for an opera and would be acceptable, as would be Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”.

The music for Schubert’s “Ave Maria” (without the words) is acceptable as the music was not written for the Latin prayer.

Registrars can only perform civil ceremonies, which must be free of all religious connotations, so unfortunately not. This 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, please email it to us and we will check whether it is acceptable. For example, the poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats would be acceptable as it is not religious in content.

Some other examples which would be acceptable although they have reference to God would be “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (“Sonnets from the Portuguese”) and “Howard’s End” by E M Forster. The extract on marriage from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran (a philosophical/spiritual work but perhaps not specifically a religious one) is acceptable, but other passages may not be.

You may wish to incorporate your own personal and heartfelt words into your ceremony. This is your opportunity to write a few sentences that encompass your feelings for each other, or make promises to each other in addition to the legal promises.

You can choose to memorise them or have them written down. Your sentiments must not have any religious connotation, or be taken from any religious ceremony.

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.

Although these may seem like standard traditional marriage vows, they are, in fact, part of the Church of England marriage vows, and so we are not able to use them in a civil ceremony.

You may like to consider different words 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.’

Unfortunately, this ceremony has its roots in the pagan religion, so we are unable to incorporate it into a civil ceremony, which must be free of all religious connotations.

Civil ceremonies are intended to provide a non-religious option to couples who would like to make a personal and legal commitment to each other outside of a religious setting. The law prevents civil ceremonies from containing religious elements.

At the end you will be announced as husband/wife and husband/wife, or as civil partners, and will sign the marriage or civil partnership schedule, the legal record of your union, with your witnesses.

Your guests will then be invited to congratulate you both as you leave the room together, and then they will follow you.

Ceremonies at licenced venues

A licenced venue is a venue that has applied for, and been granted, a licence to hold civil marriages and civil partnerships on its premises, for example, a hotel, museum or livery hall.

At a licenced venue, you book the venue to hold your ceremony, and then book the local registrars to come and conduct the ceremony.

You can see a list of the licenced venues in Islington and City of London by clicking here.

The safety of our staff, our customers, and our community is our highest priority.

Couples and guests are asked to:

  • Postpone the ceremony if you or your guests have any of the symptoms of coronavirus or have tested positive (please visit the NHS website by clicking here to check).
  • Postpone your ceremony if you or your guests have recently returned from abroad and not been vaccinated/ been tested in line with government guidance. Please click here to visit the government website with the current requirements
  • Our registrars conduct a number of ceremonies a day, and to avoid the risk of infection to you, our staff, your friends and family, other ceremony parties and users of the building, we recommend you wear face coverings while inside the venue (unless under 11 years old or medically exempt)
  • Our staff have been recommended to continue to wear face coverings, and we ask you to respect this
  • We ask that you maintain 2 metres distance from our staff and other users of the venue, especially when entering and leaving the building
  • We recommend that you and your guests take a lateral flow test before travelling to your ceremony
  • Please follow any safety measures set by the venue

We are asking all couples to continue to take safety measures to help our service remain open to register births, deaths and marriages. We are sure you can appreciate that we are privileged enough to attend lots of special days, and we would be devastated to have to cancel ceremonies if our staff become unwell after coming into contact with ceremony parties.

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, which will go through the details for your specific date, and you can list the personalisation choices you have made.

For weekend ceremonies, a registrar will be allocated a month before. Once we have sent you your pre-ceremony organiser, and you have completed and returned it, please email registrars@islington.gov.uk and we will put you in touch with them.

At this time we are not able to offer in-person co-ordinations, but you can arrange to ‘virtually meet’ the registrar by video call or talk on the phone at a time of mutual convenience to discuss your ceremony.

If your ceremony is on a weekday, it will be conducted by one of our experienced registrars. We are unable to allocate a specific registrar as there are occasions where substitutions need to be made due to unforeseen circumstances.

We do not offer a choice of registrar based on their personal characteristics.

We aim to arrive half an hour before the booked ceremony start time. We find that this is early enough to make sure that the ceremony can begin at the booked time.

If you are seeing each other before the start of the ceremony, please both arrive/ be ready for interview at least 15 minutes before the ceremony start time.

If you don’t want to see each other before the start of the ceremony, we would advise that one partner arrives around 20 minutes before the ceremony start time, and the other partner about 10 minutes before. This way your ceremony should be able to start on time.

It is important that you are on time, as the registrars may have other ceremonies to attend after yours.

Before the ceremony, you and your partner will need to check the details to go on the marriage or civil partnership certificate.

The registrars will take you to a private room, and ask you the same questions you were asked when you gave notice, for example, your full name and date of birth etc. This is to make sure that the details on the legal record of your marriage/civil partnership are correct and up-to-date on the day of your ceremony.

They will then ask you to visually check the paperwork to make sure it is correct.

It is very important that you check the paperwork very carefully, as any mistakes noticed after the paperwork is signed will need a formal correction request made to the General Register Office for a fee of £90.00.

Please be aware that our registrars are not able to interview partner/s in hotel bedrooms.

You do not need to bring any identification to this interview, unless our staff have specifically advised you to bring documents because of your individual circumstances.

There are some details that could change such as your address and occupation. If these details change before the day of your ceremony, there is nothing you need to do. You do not need to bring any documents to support those changes; you just need to confirm them with the registrar at the interview.

If anything else changes, like your name, please email us at registrars@islington.gov.uk as soon as possible to discuss what is required.

It will be up to your venue whether they permit pets. Our staff are happy to conduct ceremonies where well-behaved pets are present.

No. Please choose the entrance that suits you, whether you enter the room together, with parents, with bridesmaids, with your children or however you prefer.

Ceremonies at licenced venues can add the following personalisation:

  • a choice of four ceremony scripts (or the option to write your own script)
  • up to three readings
  • personal vows
  • music at specific points in the ceremony

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a month before your ceremony, where you can list the choices you have made.

Please note all that readings, wording and music must not be from religious texts, or contain religious messages.

You can see the links to the scripts we are currently using by clicking on the links below, depending on the type of ceremony you have chosen:

Please note that scripts are subject to change, and you will be sent the most up to date scripts to choose from at least a month before your ceremony, with the form we ask you to complete.

If you want to combine several of our ceremony scripts, or write something totally unique, you are able to at a licenced venue.

Please note that the ceremony must contain the legal parts of the ceremony (the wording in bold in our ceremony scripts), and the wording must not be from a religious ceremony, religious texts, or contain religious messages.

If you are interested in writing a personalised ceremony, please see the links below to see the order and structure of a ceremony for you to use as a template:

You will be emailed a link to a page with a form to fill in at least a months before your ceremony, where you can attach the script you have written.

We reserve the right to ask you to change the script if we feel it is not suitable for a civil ceremony.

In a civil ceremony you will not be asked to obey your partner. ‘Obeying’ was historically a part of some religious wedding ceremonies, but has never been part of the legal wording of a civil ceremony.

As civil partnership law is different from marriage law, there are no legal words you need to say, so if you would prefer to simply sign the paperwork with your witnesses you can.

On the form we send you at least a month before the ceremony, you can let us know whether you would prefer a ceremony or a signing.

The whole ceremony will need to be legally conducted by one of our registrars, though your friends and family can read poems etc.

During the marriage ceremony you will make two legal declarations before your witnesses, guests and the registrars. You will declare your freedom to marry one another, and then accept one another as husband or wife.

For civil partnership couples the words themselves are not legally binding, but will be verbal promises made to each other.

These words do not need to be memorised as you will repeat them, a few at a time, after the registrar.

Not at all. The exchanging of rings is a traditional part of a ceremony rather than a legal requirement. Some couples choose to exchange only one ring, some choose a different token personal to themselves, and others choose not to include this part of the ceremony at all.

Yes, there are points where music can be played, usually as guests gather, at the entrance of the partner/s, whilst signing the paperwork, and as the couple exit.

Please arrange the music management with the venue staff, as they will be able to advise you on arrangements for live or recorded music at their venue.

Unfortunately, we are unable to incorporate religious music (whether words or music) into a civil ceremony, which must be free of all religious connotations.

If you would like a song that mentions God or heaven or similar, but you don’t think it is a religious song, please email us and ask. For example, “Angels” by Robbie Williams and “I Say A Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin are not considered religious songs although they mention angels and prayer.

There are also some popular pieces of music such as Wagner’s “The Wedding March” from Lohengrin (more popularly referred to as “Here Comes the Bride”) which was written for an opera and would be acceptable, as would be Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”.

The music for Schubert’s “Ave Maria” (without the words) is acceptable as the music was not written for the Latin prayer.

Registrars can only perform civil ceremonies, which must be free of all religious connotations, so unfortunately not. This 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, please email it to us and we will check whether it is acceptable. For example, the poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats would be acceptable as it is not religious in content.

Some other examples which would be acceptable although they have reference to God would be “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (“Sonnets from the Portuguese”) and “Howard’s End” by E M Forster. The extract on marriage from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran (a philosophical/spiritual work but perhaps not specifically a religious one) is acceptable, but other passages may not be.

You may wish to incorporate your own personal and heartfelt words into your ceremony. This is your opportunity to write a few sentences that encompass your feelings for each other, or make promises to each other in addition to the legal promises.

You can choose to memorise them or have them written down. Your sentiments must not have any religious connotation, or be taken from any religious ceremony.

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.

Although these may seem like standard traditional marriage vows, they are in fact, part of the Church of England marriage vows, and so we are not able to use them in a civil ceremony.

You may like to consider different words 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.’

Unfortunately, this ceremony has its roots in the pagan religion, so we are unable to incorporate it into a civil ceremony, which must be free of all religious connotations.

Civil ceremonies are intended to provide a non-religious option to couples who would like to make a personal and legal commitment to each other outside of a religious setting. The law prevents civil ceremonies from containing religious elements.

Any religious blessing would need to take place after the ceremony has ended and the registrars have left.

Legally, you need to choose two witnesses who will attend and sign to say they have witnessed the ceremony/signing.

The size and layout of the schedule document that they sign means that you are not able to include more than two witnesses.

Yes, they can be anyone you like, as long as they speak good English and are an adult.

If either you or your partner requires an interpreter, that person must also act as one of your two witnesses.

You should always sign the schedule in the name you are using at the time. If you are planning to change your name after the ceremony, you could consider this to be the last time you sign in your old name.

At the end you will be announced as husband/wife and husband/wife, or as civil partners, and will sign the marriage or civil partnership schedule, the legal record of your union, with your witnesses.

Your guests will then be invited to congratulate you both as you leave the room together or join your guests. The registrar can direct your guests as you wish, for example ‘Please make your way to the courtyard to greet the newlyweds’ or similar.

The ceremony with no added personalisation takes around 20 minutes to complete, including the signing of the paperwork.

If you are adding readings or personal vows, please allow 30-40 minutes for your ceremony.

Marriage and civil partnership law states that you can’t have drinks in the room until the ceremony has finished and the registrars have left, so if the venue has a licence and permits it, they can serve drinks once the registrars have left.

In our experience, there is no need for a rehearsal, and we do not offer rehearsals at Islington and London City.

After the ceremony

The details of your ceremony must be entered onto a computer system after the ceremony, so we can’t give you the certificate at the end of the ceremony.

Please allow up to three weeks to receive your marriage/civil partnership certificate in the post after the ceremony.

The fee you pay for the ceremony includes one certificate, but you are welcome to order as many as you need online on our website after the ceremony.

Please click here to visit the webpage where you can order extra copies of your certificate.

There is no legal requirement in this country to change your name after your ceremony. This is a personal choice and not everyone wishes to do so.

If you do choose to change your name, your marriage or civil partnership certificate is evidence of the name change and no further legal processes need to be followed- just show your certificate to the bank etc. where you want to change your name.

In England and Wales, your name will appear on the certificate as it was before the marriage/civil partnership. It is not possible to record your married name on the certificate in this country.

If you are nationals of another country, then we suggest you contact your consulate or embassy to find out what the legal requirements are in your country.

If you would like to honeymoon in your new name, your passport can be changed up to three months before the ceremony, as long as you have given notice. Please visit this page to complete the required form and post it to the Town Hall to be signed by the Superintendent Registrar, before submitting it to the Passport Office.

Please note that your new passport will only be valid from the date of the ceremony.

Yes, it is a legal requirement to re-register the birth of your children after you get married or form a civil partnership, if the children were born in England or Wales.

This means that the birth certificate will be updated to show that you are now married or in a civil partnership. The child’s surname can also be changed at this point if you choose.

Please visit the gov.uk website page to download the application form after your ceremony.

If your child was born in Islington or City of London, please visit the council website for information on reregistering.

If your child was born elsewhere, please contact the register office for that area, who will advise you on re-registering the child/ren.

We know it’s all a bit overwhelming by the time you come to actually sign the marriage or civil partnership schedule, but it is extremely important that all the information recorded in the entry is correct. Your registrar will direct you to check everything before you put pen to paper, and please use those moments to double check your details.

It is your responsibility to make sure all is right before you sign. If you spot anything that is wrong tell the registrar straight away and they can amend it for you. It is very difficult to correct the registration after the event.

Please be aware that any errors in the information given will cost £90.00 to amend after you have signed to say the details are correct.

Holding your ceremony outdoors

The government has confirmed that outdoor civil marriages and civil partnerships will continue to be possible at licenced venues after April 2022. Once we have more details on the requirements after April 2022, we will update this page.

 

Unfortunately, Islington Town Hall does not have suitable outdoor space for ceremonies to take place in, so we will not be able to offer this option.

Please click here to see the advice document published by the government for more information for the trial period (ending April 2022), which is the most up to date information available at this time.