If you’ve found love, why wait? Especially if there is late venue availability and you have a small guestlist that meets all local restrictions. If the opportunity arises, you need our last minute wedding checklist to make sure you don’t forget the essentials in a rushed big day.
Sorry to stand in the path of true love. But we cannot stress enough you have to give official notice and then you can get married at least 30 days after that. But you need to have a venue and paperwork sorted before even making that key step. Please note, if one of you is not an EU citizen, this could be longer.
Things you need before planning a wedding
Find a Wedding Venue
Sorry to be a killjoy. Sadly you can not get married just anywhere and by anyone to be legal, and it has to be one of the following places with a registrar present:
- Register Office
- Church of England or Church of Wales
- Hotels or Wedding venues approved by the local authorities
- A private location or a synagogue (only if the partners are Jewish)
- Registered religious buildings in England and Wales
- The Meeting House (only if one or both partners are members of the society)
- Home of one of the partners (only if they are homebound)
- A Hospital (only if one the partner is ill and not expected to recover)
- A licensed Military, naval, or air force chapel
Have the relevant paperwork
It would be useful to ensure you have access to Birth Certificate, Passport, Drivers license, bank statement and utility bill. If you are both not UK nationals, then you may need a travel visa or proof of immigration status. You need:
- Proof of Name and Address, Nationality, Age and Date of Birth.
- Proof of the end of a previous marriage or civil partnership if applicable
- Proof of immigration status if applicable
- Overseas partners may have to show the passport, though it is not mandatory. The Birth Certificate, however, is essential.
- A non-EEA (European Economic Area) national can marry in the UK or Wales after acquiring a travel visa if they wish to marry a British (citizen/ settled citizen) or an EEA national. An EEA national doesn’t require a travel visa.
- A citizen subject to immigration control should notice only at the Designated Register Office in England and Wales.
The essentials for getting married
Okay, so you’ve got all of the above sorted and know you can legally get married. Time to get ticking off the last minute wedding checklist. The first task is essential and must be done first.
Being spontaneous is a beautiful thing, but even at elopement hot-spot Gretna Green you can’t just turn up and get married on the same day without giving notice. The minimum time period for arranging your wedding is 29 days from giving notice. On the plus side, a month gives you a lot more time to plan, and in the above consider if eloping is the right thing to do.
To give notice you need:
- Details of the ceremony venue
- a valid passport, UK birth certificate (if you were born before 1 January 1983) or national identity card from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
- proof of your home address (drivers license, utility bill, bank statement)
- proof of any name changes (deed poll)
How to give notice of a wedding
You must go to your local registrar (you might need an appointment) and sign a legal statement to say you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. This has to be at least 29 days before the ceremony and you must be married within a year. More details are available on the UK Government website. This carries a cost of £35 per person for UK and EU Nationals.
If one of you are non-UK or EU National, then there are dedicated registrar offices and costs increase to £47.
Book a registrar
You must have an officially recognised registrar to officiate the wedding to make it legal. The cost of a registrar is:
- £46 at a registry office
- £86 at a registered religious building
Invite some Guests
Legally you need two witnesses at the ceremony to sign the documentation that they witnessed the union. Technically you don’t need to know the people, but we’d like to think at least some friends and family will be there for this special moment in your lives. The witnesses can be friends or family and are usually members of the bridal party.
Prepare some wedding vows
In church weddings, there is little flexibility on the Rite of Marriage which are used. Civil ceremonies in paradox, need to avoid religious statements and while there is a standard marriage text which has to be followed, before that you can use your own vows if you so wished.
Optional extras for the wedding
These believe it or not are not actually essentials, but we consider more than nice to have at your wedding.
You don’t actually need wedding rings to get married. They are not a legal requirement, and nothing more than a symbol of your commitment and unity. But they are the only reminder of the day that will never leave you. Last minute wedding rings are easier to get hold of than you might think, with plain bands possible to obtain in days.
An evening reception
Particularly relevant with covid lockdown restrictions stopping receptions in very high-risk areas in England. There is no obligation to have a wedding reception, although we personally feel this is a once in a lifetime occasion where friends and family would love to be a part of.