Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships 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.

Check a list of approved wedding and civil ceremony venues in Portsmouth

Email registrars@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or call 023 9282 9041 if you have any questions, would like to view our ceremony rooms or make a provisional booking.

You can also 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, including help arranging a marriage involving someone who is terminally ill, please phone 023 9282 2251. Please note: we can only assist with events taking place within the City of Portsmouth (PO1-PO6).

For events taking place elsewhere please contact the Register Office for that district.

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 marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration 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 28 days. This legal requirement gives time for anyone to dispute the validity of the proposed union. After 28 days a civil marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration can take place.

If you book your ceremony or registration date first, you should post your notices of marriage or civil partnership within eight weeks. If the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration 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 or civil partnership certificate, which is issued after the ceremony or registration, 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, or civil partnership dissolution document. If this was not in the UK we'll need to see the original divorce document or dissolution document, along with a full translation of the document. A non-refundable fee of up to £75 is payable per document at the time of your notice appointment, for the consideration of any divorce or civil partnership dissolution granted outside the British Isles. 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 or are a surviving civil partner. In some cases, you may also need to produce a marriage or civil partnership certificate for your previous marriage or civil partnership.
  • 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 marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration cannot go ahead unless the legal formalities have been completed.

There is more information on Gov.uk about the documents for a notice of marriage or civic partnership 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

You will need to book both:

  • The venue (you can read more about doing this in the sections called 'Booking your civil ceremony - the register office venue' and' Booking your civil ceremony - approved venues' on this page)
  • A registrar from the local authority in the area in which the ceremony is taking place.


The fees charged are for the registrars to attend and officiate at your ceremony. If you book a ceremony at an approved venue, the venue will advise of their fees separately. There is no fee for the venue if you book a ceremony at Milldam House or the Register Office room.

Registrar fees 

A civil ceremony must be overseen by a registrar 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 £60. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the couple being overseas, friends and family can’t make this booking.

Every person wishing to register a marriage or civil partnership in England and Wales will have to give a notice in their district of residence. A notice period of 28 clear days must elapse before a ceremony/registration can take place.

Ceremony fees

Portsmouth Register Office - Milldam House Ceremony Room (maximum 45 guests, minimum 2 guests)

  • Monday to Thursday - £261
  • Friday - £311
  • Saturday - £361
  • Sunday or Bank Holiday - not available

Milldam House Room is available from 10am-3.30pm Monday to Friday, and 10am-3pm Saturday. It offers the opportunity to make an entrance to music (optional). Personal vows or a reading may be included (optional).

Approved venues in Portsmouth

For a ceremony at an approved venue, you will need to check availability with both the venue and the registrars. The fees below are for the registrars to attend at the venue and officiate at your ceremony. The venue will advise of their fees separately.

Approved venue fees

Approved venue fee by ceremony start time

Monday to Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday or Bank Holiday

9.30am - 5.15pm

£491

£521

£586

£686

5.30pm - 7.00pm

£591

£621

£686

£786

7.30pm - 9.30pm

£791

£821

£886

£986

10.00pm onwards

£1081

£1081

£1081

£1081


Portsmouth Register Office - statutory ceremony in Superintendent Registrar's Office
 (maximum 4 guests, minimum 2 guests)

  • Tuesday to Thursday - £57
  • Not available Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holidays.

Ceremonies are available at 9.30am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Ceremonies take place in a working office room, not a ceremony room. Noise from the reception area may be experienced. Music and personal vows or readings are not permitted.

Please note that this room is currently fully-booked until January 2020. We still have plenty of availability in our Mildam House room.

Refund policy

Should you need to cancel a ceremony please contact us as soon as possible. Provisional booking fee and notice fees are non-refundable.

  • 12 weeks or more of written notice of cancellation - full refund of the ceremony fee
  • Less than 12 weeks but more than four weeks of written notice - 50% refund of the ceremony fee
  • Less than four weeks notice or failure to cancel - No refund

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. 

Certificates

You receive a certificate as proof of your marriage or civil ceremony. You are welcome to order additional certificates - please see the official copy certificates page for instructions on how to do this.

How does a civil partnership change legal status?

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

Citizens Advice and Stonewall both expand on the legal benefits of civil partnership status.