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Changes to the Marriage Registration Process


At the beginning of May 2021 some changes were introduced to the marriage registration process in the UK. These are specifically around the completion of the marriage register and the information included in your marriage certificate.

I’ve had a few questions around this so I thought it was worth pulling together a summary of the changes and what they mean for you.

These changes apply to both church weddings and civil ceremonies in either a register office or an approved venue.


Information On The Marriage Certificate

Traditionally marriage certificates only included information about the couples’ fathers.  This includes father’s name, age and occupation.

There has never been any mention of mother’s details.  And this is because historically children were seen as their father’s property.  This is also where the tradition of brides being ‘given away’ by their father comes from.  Sadly there was very little importance attached to the role of a mother with their child’s upbringing!

I know many brides are still happy to walk down the aisle with their father but many don’t have this option available to them or they choose to walk with someone else.

Anyway, I digress.  The good news is that the marriage certificate can now include the details of your mother as well as your father (if you want it to.)

So when you have your appointment to give notice of marriage (for a civil ceremony) they will ask you for details of both your parents.  You can include step parents too.

From what I understand it doesn’t look like this change allows for the inclusion of details if your parents are a same sex family.  This change has been a long time coming so it seems odd that this hasn’t been included at this stage and will require a further change in the future.

If you have already given notice you should receive an email from the register office about the changes.  This will give you the opportunity to provide the additional details to them ahead of your wedding.

Similarly with a church wedding, you should be given the opportunity to add the details if you’ve already provided your father’s details to your church.

Marriage registration

Going Online

At the same time the system for registering marriages has moved online.

Prior to this change, marriages were registered by the couple both signing a register book.  The book was held at register offices and in churches and the registrar would bring it with them to approved venues.

So you would sign the register after your ceremony and then you receive your paper marriage certificate on the day of your wedding.  (Which obviously had to be handed to a responsible adult to be looked after for the day!)

Now, you will sign a marriage schedule instead of the register. This is then returned to the register office by the registrar.  The details will then be recorded digitally and your legal marriage certificates will then be produced and posted to you.

For a church wedding, you will sign a marriage document.  The information in this will then again be entered in to the online marriage register and your certificate posted to you.

I know many people feel a little bit sad about losing the tradition of signing the big register on the wedding day.  It always makes for lovely photos as well as the symbolism of it.  I know that many venues are considering having some sort of replica for the purposes of the photographs so it’s worth asking your venue if they are going to do this.

I hope this helps answers any questions you have about the changes.  You can see the detail on the gov website here.  And you also find more info here about the legal process of getting married in the UK.

And of course if you need some additional help with your wedding planning you can get in touch and lets chat about how I can help you.  You can also see more info here about my wedding planning services.


Louise Wearmouth, Founder of Your Fabulous Wedding