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Approved premises ceremony plan guidance

Introduction

Your ceremony plan helps you plan your ceremony and tells us your choices for your special day. It is important you fill in all the details.

Please:

If it is necessary to change the date, time or venue of your ceremony you must contact us immediately. Please note that a fee of £25 will be incurred each time you alter your arrangements.

Arranging a ceremony can be stressful but we will do our best to make it as simple and straightforward as possible.

On your wedding day

In all cases, you will be interviewed by the Registrar immediately prior to the ceremony. If you chose to arrive together, you must arrive at your chosen venue no later than 20 minutes before the time of your ceremony. If you choose to arrive separately, one partner must arrive no later than 30 minutes before the time of the ceremony and the other partner no later than 15 minutes before the time of the ceremony.

The Essex Registration and Nationality Service does not accept responsibility for delays beyond its control. Please be mindful that our staff may be attending other ceremonies on the day and it is important that your ceremony starts on time.  If you are more than 10 minutes late for the start of your ceremony it may need to be arranged for another time and date.

Witnesses

You must provide two witnesses to the ceremony, these are usually either relatives or friends. They should be over the age of 16, able to understand English and the significance of the ceremony they are witnessing.

Music and reading

You may wish to have your own choice of music and / or reading(s) for your ceremony. Please submit details of these with your ceremony plan no later than ten weeks before the ceremony. Neither your music nor reading may include any religious content. Your music should be supplied directly to the wedding coordinator at your venue. You still need to complete the details on your ceremony plan as we need to know the music you have chosen.

If you do not provide your ceremony plan or reading(s) at least ten weeks before your ceremony, we are unable to guarantee your personal choices on your ceremony day.

Entering the ceremony room

You have the option of walking into the ceremony room together or separately accompanied by a relative or friend.

Registration of your ceremony

Before you sign the register the Registrar will ask you to check that all the particulars have been correctly recorded. It is important that you check the entry very carefully, as errors discovered after the register has been signed can be a lengthy and difficult process to correct. Finally, the witnesses will be called to sign the register.

Photography and video policy

We ask your guests not to take photographs during the ceremony or at the signing of the register. When the ceremony is complete and the register is signed, we can stage a mock signing of the register when photographs may be taken.

If you wish to make a video or DVD of your ceremony, please bring this to the attention of the Registrars on the day so that they can show the operator where the camera should be positioned and explain the importance of remaining in one place throughout the ceremony.

Please note where space is limited only one video or DVD camera is permitted. Filming of the signing of the register is not allowed. Please check to establish the policy on the use of confetti at your chosen venue.

The elements of your ceremony

The Superintendent Registrar reserves the right to alter the order of service where necessary.

Ceremony is… words

These words are optional. You may choose one of the following options for a short explanation of the meaning of the ceremony, or no statement on the meaning of the ceremony to be included.

A1. (Partner’s name) and (Partner’s name) see their marriage as the promise of hope between two people who love each other, who honour one another as individuals and who wish to share their future together. They now wish to affirm their relationship in your presence as they start their new life together.

A2. Marriage is a desire by two people not only to share themselves and their experiences but also to accept one another as individuals.

Marriage means making a commitment to developing co-operation. It calls for honesty, patience and, of course, humour. A good partner will be loving and caring, but above all, a best friend.

A3. (Partner’s name) and (Partner’s name) have found in each other happiness, fulfilment and love. Their relationship has been enriched by the presence of their child / children, (children’s names), whom we all welcome here today.

A4. None of these

Declaratory words

These words are required by law to make sure your ceremony is valid. They cannot be changed or left out. You must choose one of these options. is valid. They cannot be changed or left out. You must choose one of these options.

B1. I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (Partner’s name) may not be joined in matrimony to (Partner’s name).

B2. I declare that I know of no legal reason why I (Partner’s name) may not be joined in marriage to (Partner’s name).

B3. If you are free to marry, please answer “I am” to the following question: Are you (Partner’s name) free lawfully to marry (Partner’s name)?

Contracting words

These words are required by law to make sure your ceremony is valid. They cannot be changed or left out. You must choose one of these options.is valid. They cannot be changed or left out. You must choose one of these options.

C1. I call upon these persons here present to witness that I (Partner’s name) do take thee (Partner’s name) to be my lawful wedded wife / husband.

C2. I (Partner’s name) take you (Partner’s name) to be my wedded wife / husband.

C3. I (Partner’s name) take thee (Partner’s name) to be my wedded wife / husband.

Promises

These words are optional. You may choose one of the following promises, or none.

D1. As I take you to be my wife / husband, I promise to love you, to honour and respect you. I will stand by you and be true to you always.  I will care for you, laugh with you when you are happy, comfort you when you are sad. Whatever life may bring, I will always love you.

D2. Couple will write own promises and submit for approval by Superintendent Registrar at least ten weeks before the ceremony.

D3. No promise

Rings

These words are optional. If you are not exchanging rings, this section will be left out. If you are exchanging rings, please choose one of these options.

E1. (Partner’s first name) I give you this ring as a token of our marriage and as a lasting reminder of the promises we have made here today. (If rings are being exchanged, Partner 2 repeats.)

If one ring is given, Partner 2 responds:

(Partner’s first name) I accept this ring as a token of our marriage and as a lasting reminder of the promises we have made here today.

E2. (Partner’s first name) I give you this ring as a symbol of our marriage. I promise to be loving, faithful and loyal to you in living our married life together. (If rings are being exchanged, Partner 2 repeats.)

If one ring given, Partner 2 responds:

(Partner’s first name) I accept this ring as a symbol of our marriage. I promise to be loving, faithful and loyal to you in living our married life together.

E3. (Partner’s first name) I give you this ring as a symbol of our love and as a lasting reminder of the vows we have made here today. (If rings are being exchanged, Partner 2 repeats.)

If only one ring given, Partner 2 responds:

(Partner’s first name) I accept this ring as a symbol of our love and as a lasting reminder of the vows we have made here today.

Outdoor ceremonies

If you would like your ceremony to take place in an outdoor structure, please complete the outdoor ceremonies agreement form – Word document, 65KB, print and sign, scan and email to registration@essex.gov.uk at least 10 weeks before your ceremony, with your ceremony plan.

Essex Registration and Nationality Service know how important your special day is you, your family and friends.

We will do all that we can to ensure that it lives up to your expectations.

Many couples are choosing to hold their ceremony in some type of permanent outdoor structure and we are happy to accommodate this where possible. However it will not always be possible to hold a ceremony outside due to inclement weather. This can include rain or the likelihood of showers, wind, very cold conditions, very hot and sunny with no shade for guests or any other extreme conditions.

It is a legal requirement that marriage registers and all other legal paperwork must be kept safe, dry and in pristine condition at all times. These are the official records of the ceremony and it is very important that the registers and paperwork are protected. For this reason the registrars will have the ultimate decision on whether the ceremony can be held outside or not.

Please do not let it spoil your day if the ceremony cannot take place outside for whatever reason. Make plans for your chosen room inside too – and consider it a bonus if the weather is kind to you. Please be careful to ensure that the number of guests you have invited to a possible outdoor ceremony can also be accommodated into your chosen room.