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.