If you are planning on eloping or want a smaller and more intimate wedding then you’ll probably be thinking about getting married at a Registry Office. As a London wedding photographer, I’ve seen my share of civil ceremonies in London and beyond. Here are my top tips of what to expect at a civil ceremony in England.
A Civil Ceremony is led by a registrar and is a non religious ceremony. A registrar and a wedding celebrant have different roles in a wedding ceremony. A registrar will guide you through the civil ceremony and will legally record your wedding. A wedding celebrant will work more personally with you to create a bespoke ceremony, but their ceremony won’t be legally binding in England if they are on their own.
You can have a wedding with a celebrant officiating and a registrar present to take care of all the legal needs. This would normally happen at a venue different from a registry office.
A civil ceremony is straightforward and normally very quick. To make the ceremony more personal, you can ask a friend or family member to give a quick reading and you can say your own vows, should you wish to.
When doing your legal paperwork no pictures are allowed to be taken. Once the official paperwork is done, your photographer will be allowed to get some photos of you pretending to sign your documents and there is normally a certificate which you are allowed to show to the camera.
While the ceremony will feel like it’s speeding past, take your time when you have your first kiss. You’re officially married, so take a second to enjoy it!
Each registry office is unique, and some have multiple rooms available for civil ceremonies. So depending on the amount of guests you would like to invite, there will be a room the right size for you. Keep in mind that registry offices are busy places and they will often host several weddings a day. You won’t get much time in the venue.
Normally, the registry office will have some floral decor already in the room. Should you wish to bring your own, make sure you speak to the office to see if this is allowed. You won’t have much time for setting up and taking down your decor.
You can wear whatever you’d like to your registry office wedding. You can go all out with a traditional dress and suit, or opt for something more casual. It’s completely up to you.
If you’d like to have the classic confetti photos after your ceremony, check ahead of time with the registry office to see where the confetti throws are normally done. They may also have rules on the types of confetti you are allowed to use. Often you are asked to use biodegradable confetti.
Couple Portraits & Group Photos
At registry offices, there’s usually back to back weddings, so you won’t have much time in the location’s iconic photo spots. Make a small list of couple portraits or group photos you’d like, but have another location in mind for photos, so that you don’t feel super rushed with your pictures.
The Reception/After Party
Congratulations! You’re married! Now it’s time to party! Once you’ve been legally married at the registry office, you can organise your reception, or a ceremony led by a celebrant at another location. You can hold your reception on the same day as your registry office wedding, or at another time entirely. It’s completely up to you.
Registry office weddings are often more cost effective and easier to organise. If you are looking for an intimate, non religious wedding ceremony, then the registry office is a great choice.
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