What you need to know about giving notice of marriage

What is giving notice of marriage? What's involved in giving notice of marriage? These are questions I've seen a lot whilst planning my own wedding so I figured I'd break it down and do a whole guide to giving notice of marriage because it's actually super important and without it you can't even get married.

What is giving notice of marriage?

The first thing I will say is I am obviously no expert, I'm just trying to provide you with a basic understanding of what notice of marriage is and why it's so important. The first thing any couple should do when planning a wedding is research the legal aspect of their day because as fun as planning a wedding is there are some important steps to take as well.

What is giving notice of marriage?

Notice of marriage is a legal statement of your intention to marry. It states you and your partners names, ages, occupations, addresses, nationality and marital status. Put simply, without giving notice of marriage you cannot get married. Your notice of marriage is then displayed for the public to see and anyone can come forward if they know of any legal reason why you shouldn't be getting married. You have to give notice at the registry office in the area you live in regardless of where you are getting married. However if you're getting married in a Church of England church then you have your banns read instead. For any other church denomination or wedding location you must go to the registry office in the town/city where you live and give notice there. If you and your partner live apart in different towns than you would each have to attend a notice of marriage in your own home towns.

Weddings abroad come with their own set of rules and for this post I won't be going in that as each country is different. If you're getting married abroad then head to the government website and follow the steps for finding the country you're getting married in then it will tell you exactly what you need to do in terms of legalities. 

When do you give notice of marriage?

It's only valid for 12 months so you can't give notice of marriage more than a year before your wedding date. Your notice has to be displayed for 29 day though so you must give notice no later than 29 days before your wedding date or your wedding can't go ahead. Keep in mind some registry offices will be busier than others and you may have to wait for an appointment so it's best to get booked in sooner rather than later. We gave notice just over 5 months before the wedding and found it easy to get an appointment. However our registry office only offered appointments Monday-Friday so again it's something else worth checking as I can't take time off during the week (I work in a school) so I had to wait until I was next on a school holiday to attend the notice of marriage.

What happens at your appointment?

I'm not going to lie I was quite nervous the day before our appointment but I'm here to tell you there is absolutely nothing to worry about. I can't give you an exact run down of what will happen at your appointment as each council is different but I can give you a very good idea of what to expect. Our appointment was very simple but I have heard from other brides that they had more questions at their appointment. They also check over the details of your wedding day and check over the documents that you have to take with you (more on that in a bit). I will say this though whether your council is super simple like ours or whether they have a lot of questions, there's absolutely nothing to panic about. The questions aren't designed to trick you if you actually know each other. They're designed to catch people out who may be being forced into marriage or marrying for illegal reasons. So honestly don't worry about it because the average couple will sail through the appointment. I will give you a rundown of our appointment but as I've said keep in mind every council is different.

Our notice of marriage

So here's how our appointment went. We were both interviewed together to start with, we were asked to produce our paperwork to be looked over then we each had to confirm our name and state whether we'd ever changed our names or whether we'd been married before. We were asked where we were getting married, the date and the time. My fiance was then asked what my date of birth was and I was asked what his was. I was then asked to leave while my fiance was interviewed on his own then we swapped over. In the individual interviews we were asked again to confirm our details, names, date of birth and address, we were also asked again if we'd ever changed our name or being married before. We were asked each others occupation and the occupation of our own dad. So I was asked what Josh did for a job and what my dad did and Josh was asked what I did and what his dad did.
And that was it! We were in and out within 15 minutes, super quick and simple and nothing to worry about at all!

What documents do you need to take?

Your council website should tell you exactly what you need to take to your appointment so do double check on there but as a general rule as long as you're a British national then all you need is proof of nationality and proof of address. If you've changed your name, being married before or you're not a British national then you will need extra documents. For proof of nationality you're asked to take a valid passport, however if you don't have one or it's not in date then you can take your birth certificate and your mother's birth certificate. My passport is out of date so I had to take the two birth certificates and it wasn't a problem at all. However the birth certificates have to the the full versions not the short ones. You can order copies of birth certificates if you don't have them and they're fairly inexpensive. As for proof of address, it's usually a utility bill, bank statement or council tax bill. There will be date restrictions though, for example at our council utility bills had to be dated from the past 3 months and bank statements had to be dated from the past month. 

So I think that's covered the basics of giving notice of marriage. I do urge you to check with your council though and please remember to sort of the important legal stuff before anything else. Wedding planning can be a lot of fun and I think a lot of people don't realise there's more to it then booking a venue and registrar. Please do your research and don't get caught out and leave things too late because that's when wedding planning stops being fun.

If you have any other questions about giving notice of marriage, please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. 

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