Marriages & civil partnershipsLast updated: 27 November 2013 09:32 UK
Civil partnerships and wedding ceremonies are a legal alternative to church ceremonies. Portsmouth register office is responsible for the legal aspect of all marriages and civil partnerships in Portsmouth, as well as being a licensed venue for the ceremonies themselves.
This is what you have to do to organise your marriage or civil partnership in Portsmouth. The procedures for both are similar, but a civil partnership registration is not obliged to be before witnesses - it can be registered privately. Civil partners might like the additional information on Citizens Advice and Stonewall websites. Also see the question below 'How does a civil partnership change legal status?'
Contact the register office if you have any questions, would like to view our ceremony rooms, make a provisional booking or order a printed copy of our Weddings and civil partnerships brochure.
- The weddings and civil partnerships brochure is available to download below
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 023 9282 9041. Write to or visit us at Milldam House, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO1 3AF. Our opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
For emergencies outside normal office hours on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, or for help arranging a marriage involving someone who is terminally ill, please contact 023 9282 2251.
Who deals with the legal side of a civil ceremony?
If you choose to marry in the Church of England, the vicar will deal with all legal aspects for you.
However, if you wish to marry at any other religious building registered for marriages, such as Methodist, Baptist, Muslim, Roman Catholic or Sikh venues, you will need to give notice of marriage with Portsmouth register office yourself. The section below 'Notice of marriage or civil partnership' explains what this means.
It is usually only possible to be married in a religious building in the district where one or both of you live or worship.
The religious venue will generally have a authorised person to conduct the ceremony and register your marriage. Otherwise, you will need to ensure a registrar from the local register office is available to register your marriage. Contact the local register office before finalising any arrangements with the minister. There will be a fee for a registrar to attend.
Notice of marriage or civil partnership
Once you decide to marry - in a religious or a civil service - you must by law make your intentions public in the district, or districts, where you both live.
Those getting married in a church ‘call the banns’. Those opting for a civil ceremony make an appointment with the local registrar to give ‘notice of marriage’ or 'notice of civil partnership' - an official record of permission for the ceremony to take place. Notices are legal documents which must be given in person by both parties. A friend or relative cannot do this.
The registrar then posts a notice publicly for 15 days. This legal requirement gives time for anyone to dispute the validity of the proposed union. After 15 days a civil marriage or partnership can take place.
if you book your ceremony date first, you should post your notices of marriage or civil partnership within eight weeks. If the ceremony is more than a year away, the registrar will advise you when and where you should give your notices.
You must both have lived continuously in any one district of England or Wales for seven days immediately before the date you give notice. If you both live in the same district, if possible you should attend together to give your notices of marriage or civil partnership. It does not matter if either of you move to a different address after the notice has been given.
The notice is valid for 12 months, but is not proof of a marriage or civil partnership. The marriage certificate, issued at the ceremony, is the proof of a marriage or civil partnership.
The cost of posting a notice of marriage or civil partnership is £35 per person.
Documents needed for a notice of marriage or civil partnership
When you give your notice of marriage or civil partnership there are certain documents that you need to show:
- birth certificates - to verify your ages and spelling of your names
- passports - to verify your nationalities
- deed poll documents, change of name deed or statutory declaration - to show any changes to your name
- decree absolute if either of you has been divorced. If this was not in the UK we'll need to see a translation of your document. In some cases, it is necessary for a foreign divorce document to be sent to the registrar general for verification.
- death certificate - if either of you has been widowed. In some cases you may also need to produce a marriage certificate for your previous marriage.
- consent form - if either of you is under 18 you will need a consent form signed by the person who is responsible for you
- proof of address – to verify that you are living in the registration district
Your ceremony cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed. This information is also in the Weddings and civil partnerships brochure which you can download below.
There is more information on Gov.uk about the documents for a notice of marriage appointment. If either you or your partner are from outside the European Union, please phone the register office before arranging any appointments, as there are different procedures and documents involved.
Booking your civil ceremony - the registrar
You will need to book both:
- the venue (see sections below called 'Booking your civil ceremony - the register office venue' and 'Booking your civil ceremony - approved venues)
- someone to officiate at your ceremony, usually a registrar, but can be an authorised person
A civil ceremony should be overseen by a registrar or an authorised person to ensure legal requirements are met. In Portsmouth you can book a registrar up to two years in advance on payment of a non-refundable fee of £30. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the couple being overseas, friends and family can’t make this booking.
The table below shows the cost of booking a Portsmouth registrar to officiate at either the register office itself or at one of the approved venues in the city. Fees in the table are in addition to fees paid for the notices of marriage or civil partnership, and forhiring the approved venue, if applicable.
Portsmouth Register office
Fees from 1 April 2013
Register office room
(max 16 people)
Milldam House room
(max 45 people)
Attending a ceremony at an approved venue
|Monday - Thursday||£49||£129||£384||£484||£684||£1,004|
|Sunday or Bank Holiday||n/a||n/a||£579||£679||£879||£1,004|
*Limited availability in the Register Office room on Saturdays from October - March
Refund policy - should you need to cancel a ceremony at Portsmouth register office please contact us as soon as possible. Here is our refund policy:
|Written notice of cancellation given||Refunds payable - refund does not include the provisional booking fee or notice fees|
|12 weeks or more||Full refund of ceremony fee|
|Less than 12 weeks but more than four weeks||50% refund of ceremony fee|
|Less than four weeks or failure to cancel||No refund|
For more information about the two rooms available at the register office see 'Booking your civil ceremony - the register office venue'.
What happens at a civil ceremony?
Every civil ceremony includes as a minimum the couple's declaration and promises to each other, followed by the signing of the register in front of two witnesses, and the presentation of the certificate. Gov.uk explains the legal side of a civil marriage or partnership ceremony.
The registrar will discuss with you how you can personalise your ceremony with music, a reading or photographs. Pages eight to eleven in the Weddings and civil partnerships brochure below, discuss this in more details and give the words of the declarations and vows.
You receive a certificate as proof of your marriage or civil ceremony. You are welcome to order additional certificates:
- £4 - additional certificates at time of registration
- £7 - after registration
- £10 - more than one calendar month after registration
Alternatively you can buy a commemorative certificate. A commemorative certificate is a keepsake and souvenir of the occasion, it cannot be used for legal or statutory purposes.
How does a civil partnership change legal status?
Same-sex couples who form a civil partnership have a new legal status, that of 'civil partner', which gives your relationship legal recognition. Some of the benefits that civil partnership registration gives you as a couple include:
- access to benefits including social security and state pension, including the right to benefit from a deceased partner’s pension
- recognition under inheritance rules
- ability to succeed to tenancy rights
- next-of-kin visiting rights in hospital
- ability to gain parental responsibility for each other's children
- right to register the death of a partner
- employment benefits
- recognition under intestacy rules