Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Marriages and civil partnerships can take place from 4 July. Face coverings are now mandatory for all those attending - see our coronavirus update section for more information.

Civil marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations are a legal alternative to church ceremonies.
Portsmouth register office is responsible for the legal aspect of all marriages and civil partnerships in Portsmouth. It's also a licensed venue for the ceremonies themselves.

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

You can contact us if you have any questions, if you would like to view our ceremony rooms or to make a provisional booking.

You can email  us or call 023 9282 9041 .

You can also write to, or visit us at:

Milldam House
Burnaby Road
Portsmouth
PO1 3AF

Our opening hours are:
Monday - Friday:  9am to 4.30pm

For emergencies outside normal office hours on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays - please phone 023 9282 2251.
This includes help arranging a marriage involving someone who is terminally ill.

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.

Notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments - coronavirus update

From 8 June 2020 Notice of Marriage and Civil Partnership appointments can take place in Portsmouth.

This will be strictly by appointment only and for time critical notices only: for example if you have a provisional booking for a ceremony due to take place within the next three months. 

Please telephone our ceremonies office on 023 9282 9041. We will arrange an appointment for you and confirm which documents you are required to bring with you.   

The Notice of Marriage and Civil Partnership procedure is a face to face interview with a registrar and you will be required to attend the register office in person..   

We only require the person/s giving notice to attend and you must not bring other family members with you. If you or any member of your household is self-isolating or has any recent symptoms of Covid-19 please do not attend and contact us to rearrange your appointment.

Our Milldam House ceremony room can hold a maximum of 12 guests. Face coverings are now mandatory for all those attending.

Face coverings are now mandatory for all guests attending wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships at a register office or approved venue. Official government guidance

Who deals with the legal side of a civil marriage 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, you will need to give notice of marriage with Portsmouth register office yourself. This includes Methodist, Baptist, Muslim, Roman Catholic or Sikh venues. 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 service or a civil ceremony - or register as civil partners - 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 marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration must 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 preliminaries to marriage or civil partnership 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 marriage 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.

There is no legal ceremony for a civil partnership. Signing the schedule makes a civil partnership official. Both partners and the two witnesses must sign the schedule. If you want to add an extra ceremony to mark the event you will need to do it separately. This can either be held at Milldam House or at an approved venue such as a hotel.

Please visit our Citizenship, renewal of vows, naming and civil partnership ceremonies page for further information.

Registrar fees 

A civil marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration 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.
The fee is £65 and is non-refundable. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the couple being overseas, friends and family can’t make this booking.

Anyone, who wants 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 pass before a ceremony / registration can take place.

Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership fee is £35 per person. There is an extra fee of £15 per person for Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership appointments on a Saturday. Saturday appointments have very limited availability. The Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership fee is nonrefundable.

Civil Partnership registration costs £57.

Ceremony fees (from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021)

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

  • Monday to Thursday - £281
  • Friday - £331
  • Saturday - £381
  • 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).

* Please note: under current social distancing measures Milldam House has the capacity to hold a maximum of 12 guests. This includes all children, adults and a photographer. This does not include the couple being married. From 8th August, it is mandatory for all guests to wear a face covering. Please do not invite any extra guests to wait in the garden or around the building as they will not be allowed to enter.

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 marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration (2 guests only - these will be your witnesses,so must both be over the age of 18)

Monday - not available
Tuesday to Thursday - £57
Friday to Sunday - not available
Bank Holidays - not available

Statutory marriage ceremonies or civil partnership registrations are available at 9.30am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Ceremonies or registrations take place in a working office, not a ceremony room. You may hear noise from the reception area. Music and personal vows or readings are not allowed. You must bring two witnesses to your ceremony or registration. They must be over the age of 18 and be able to speak and understand English.
Please note that this room is fully-booked until January 2021. We still have a lot of availability for marriage ceremonies in our Milldam 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? 

A civil marriage ceremony is simple. You will make two statements (see below). We will ask you to choose one from the declaratory words and one from the contracting words which we will guide you through:

Declaratory Words:

  1.  “I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I………….may not be joined in matrimony to…………….” OR
  2.  “I declare that I know of no legal reason why I……may not be joined in marriage to ……..” OR
  3.  By replying “I am” to the question “Are you……free lawfully to marry……?”

 

Contracting Words:

  1. “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I……do take thee….to be my lawful wedded wife/husband” OR
  2. “I ….. take you…..to be my wedded wife/husband” OR
  3.  “I ….. take thee…..to be my wedded wife/husband”

 

You will then sign the register in front of two witnesses and receive a certificate.

 

Exchanging Rings

The couple can choose to exchange one or two rings - this is optional. 

If you want to make your ceremony more personal you can discuss this with the registrar. At a Milldam House ceremony, you can include either longer personal vows or one short reading. At an approved venue ceremony, you can add longer personal vows and some readings if you wish. In all cases, no religious content is allowed. The readings and personal vows must be appropriate. They must be approved by the Superintendent Registrar two weeks before the ceremony.

Certificates

You receive a certificate as proof of your marriage or civil partnership. You can order more certificates. Please see the  official copy certificates page for instructions on how to do this.

How does a civil partnership change legal status?

Civil Partnerships are an alternative for couples who may feel that marriage is not right for them. If you're not sure which option is right for you, you can check the national government website for more information

Couples who form a civil partnership have a new legal status, that of 'civil partner'. This makes your relationship legally official. Some of the benefits that civil partnership registration gives you as a couple include:

  • access to benefits, such as social security and state pension
  • 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.