Flowers at Searcys

Please find below our most frequently asked questions about ceremonies at licenced venues

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.