This page covers planning your ceremony itself.

You can find answers to questions about arrival, departure and time spent at the Town Hall (apart from during the ceremony) by visiting this page.

Photographer: Beans On Toast For Two

Please find below our most frequently asked questions about Council Chamber ceremonies

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.

Council Chamber ceremony planning

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, 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 us and we will put you in touch with them to arrange a time of mutual convenience to discuss your ceremony by phone.

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, 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 into the Council Chamber, following the terms of our risk assessment. If they require amplification, music stands or other equipment, 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.

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 a reading if we think it is unsuitable.

It’s fine to have funny or irreverent readings or poems, but we will decline readings containing adult language and/or topics.

If you have a reading that you think is a bit close to the line, please email it to us and we will check whether it is acceptable, or whether it is more suitable for your reception.

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.