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Getting married in the English Lake District

If you wish to marry in Cumbria you may do so by civil or religious ceremony

A civil ceremony can take place in a registry office or other premises approved by the local authority for marriages (for examples, hotel stately home).

Who do I contact to make arrangements?

Civil Ceremony

if you wish to marry by civil ceremony, that is at a register office or other building approved by civil marriage, you should first contact the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. You may marry at any register office or approved premises of your choice in Cumbria. However for a marriage in an approved premises, you will also need to make arrangements at the venue in question. In addition you will need to give a formal notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar of the district(s) where you live.

Church of England

If you wish to be married in the Church of England - and generally you will be able to do so only if you or your partner live in the parish - you should first speak to the Vicar. If he is able to marry you he will arrange for the Banns to be called on three Sundays before the day of your ceremony or for a common licence to be issued. The marriage will also be registered by the Vicar and there is generally no need to involve the local superintendent registrar.

Other Places of Religious Worship

If you wish to marry by religious ceremony other than in the Church of England you should first arrange to see the minister or other person in charge of marriages at the building . However, the Church or religious building in question must normally be in the registration district where you or your partner live. It will also be neccessary to give formal notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar of the district(s) where you live. A registrar may also need to be booked.

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The Legal Formalities. 

Unless you are marrying in the Church of England by Banns or Common Licence you and/or your partner must attend personally at the register office for the district(s) where you live and give notice of your marriage to the superintendent registrar.

Notice can be given in one of two ways:

By Certificate
Both of you must have lived in a registration district in England or Wales for atleast seven days before giving notice at the register office. If you both live in the same district you only need to give one notice. If you live in different registration districts then each of you will need to give notice in your own area. After giving notice you must wait a further twenty-one days before the marriage can take place.(for example, if notice is given on 1 July the marriage may take place on or after 23 July).

By Licence
To marry by this method, which is often known as 'special licence' and is more expensive, one of you must have lived in a registration district in England or Wales for at least fifteen days before giving notice to the registrar office. Your partner only needs to be a resident of, or physically in England or Wales on the day notice is given. After notice is given the marriage can take place after one clear day. For example,you can give notice on a Tuesday and be married on the Thursday.

How far in advance may I make the booking? 

A notice of marriage is valid for twelve months. You may therefore not give notice of marriage to the superintendent registrar more than twelve months before the date of your marriage. However you may be able to make an advance (provisional) booking with the superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry. The superintendent registrar will be able to give you more precise information in this respect.

Documents you may need to produce to the superintendent registrar or the Vicar.

When you attend before the superintendent registrar or Vicar to make the formal arrangements you will need to produce certain documents, for example,if you have been married before a decree absolute of divorce bearing the courts original stamp, or if your husband or wife died a certificate of death.

It would also be useful if your birth certificate or passport could be produced. Photocopies are unlikely to be acceptable. Other documents may also be needed depending on circumstances for example, the consent of parents to a marriage where one of the couple is under the age of 18.

If you are not able to provide any of the above documents the superintendent registrar will explain what other documents may be acceptable.

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Please note

  • Your marriage cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed.
  • Notice of marriage must be given in person to the superintendent registrar by you or your partner. No one else can do so on your behalf.
  • Where an advance booking for a marriage has been made, it is essential that a formal notice is given to the superintendent registrar, once you are legally able to do so.

Other information

There are nationally set fees for giving notice to the superintendent registrar and the registrar's attendance at a marriage at a registrar office or religious building. However, the fees for the attendance of superintendent registrar and registrar at a marriage in an approved premises (for example,at at hotel) is set by the local authority. The superintendent registrar of the district where you wish to marry will be able provide you with the details of the fees payable.

On the day of the wedding you will need to bring with you at least two people who are prepared to witness the marriage and the sign the marriage register.

If you wish to know more about marriage ceremonies at register offices or at approved premises please ask the superintendent registrar for details. While a ceremony of marriage in the presence of a superintendent registrar cannot, by law, contain any religious aspects, it may be possible with the agreement of the registration officers attending the ceremony, for you to include non-religious music and/or poetry readings and for the wedding to be videoed.


The above is for general guidance and is not a complete statement of the law. You should always consult the local registry office directly. E&O.E - 11th April 1999