Weddings and ceremonies

On the day

​A Northamptonshire County Council ceremony officer will conduct the pre-ceremony interview and ceremony and will be happy to answer any last minute questions that you may have.

Arrival

​  

You will be greeted by the ceremony officer for a brief meeting. This meeting is to ensure that all the information on the certificates for marriage are correct. You will also be asked to confirm the information given on your notices, including your natural, step or adopted father’s full names and occupations.

These details will be recorded in the marriage register and on your marriage certificate(s) and any commemorative certificates.

Don’t be late! It may have been ‘fashionable’ for the bride to be late but don’t be - you and your guests must be on time as the ceremony officer will have other ceremonies to attend on the same day.

Please consider this when advising guests of their arrival time. See your ceremony confirmation letter correspondence for the suggested arrival time.

For details of guest and seating capacity in our ceremony rooms, please see our registration office pages. For information on approved venue seating, please contact the venue.

Typical order of events

A typical running order for the ceremony is:

Marriage ceremony

  • Introduction and welcome
  • Declaration of freedom to marry
  • First reading
  • Contracting words
  • Exchanging of rings
  • Additional promises
  • Second reading
  • Signing the register

Marriage registration

  • Introduction and welcome
  • Declaration of freedom to marry
  • Contracting words
  • Exchanging rings
  • Signing the register

No other embellishments for a marriage registration can be offered due to the location and limited time available for a registration. Guests are limited to the two witnesses only.

The marriage legalities conclude with the formal signing of the register which will take place after you have been declared husband(s) and/or wife(s). 

Marriage ceremony words

 

In a marriage ceremony you will say the following:

​The choice of words below are spoken aloud during the ceremony in the presence of witnesses by both partners as a declaration that they are free to marry.

(a) Traditional: “I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I [full name] may not be joined in matrimony to [full name of partner]”

(b) Modern: “I declare that I know of no legal reason why I [full name] may not be joined in marriage to [full name of partner]”

(c) Simplified: “(If the answer to my question is yes please reply I am).

Are you [full name] free lawfully to marry [full name of partner]?”.

​The choice of words below are spoken aloud during the ceremony in the presence of witnesses by both partners to signify they are entering into a contract of marriage.

(a) Traditional: “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I [full name] do take thee [full name of partner] to be my lawful wedded husband/wife”

(b) Modern: “I [full name] take you [full name of partner] to be my wedded husband or wife”

(c) Simplified: “I [full name] take thee [full name of partner] to be my wedded husband or wife”.

Readings and additional promises

For ceremonies, the couple can have an additional reading and exchange additional promises to make the ceremony even more special. Your guests can take the lead with readings if you wish.

Witnesses

  • The law requires that you have two witnesses at your marriage
  • They can be relatives or friends and must be able to speak and understand English. Children and young people can sign the register as additional witnesses
  • All witnesses must be able to understand what is taking place and testify to what they have witnessed.

Ceremony conclusion

The formal signing of the register will take place after you have been declared husband and wife/husband and husband/wife and wife.

Flowers

  • All ceremony rooms in the Registration Offices are decorated with either silk or dried flower arrangements. 

Confetti

Confetti is a familiar part of any marriage. We simply ask your guests not to throw confetti inside the building.

Recording the event

  • This is up to you and your guests but recording needs to be discreet during the ceremony
  • The ceremony cannot be interrupted for recording
  • Some of our registration offices are close to attractive public parks that provide excellent backdrops for your photographs

Please let us know in advance when you submit the planning form so we are prepared. See 'So you want to get married - how to do it' for more information.

Use of an interpreter

  • If one or both of you is unable to speak and/or understand English, you will need to provide an interpreter
  • Interpreters will be asked to sign a statement that he/she has translated the questions and answers correctly
  • You are not able in law to interpret for each other

Ceremony fees

For details of current charges please see our fees page.

Booking terms and conditions

For information on our booking conditions see our terms and conditions page.

Still have questions?

If after reading all this information you still have some unanswered questions please visit our weddings frequently asked questions page.

More information on weddings and civil partnerships is available on GOV.UK.