This week has been a week of fails, wedding wise. We made an appointment to go to “give notice” at our local registry office, which is a legal part of getting married in the UK if you are having a “civil ceremony.” In the UK you basically have two options for a wedding; a church ceremony, or a civil ceremony.
As neither of us are practicing Christians a church ceremony wasn’t an option for us, by our own choice. I was brought up in a Christian household where we went to church every Sunday and now that I don’t follow the ways of the Church I wouldn’t feel that I was being respectful to those Christians who do to have a wedding in their place of worship. Especially as the decision I made when I was a teenager to no longer go to church was surrounded by the unhappiness I felt in my church’s attitude to gay/lesbian people, gay/lesbian families and therefore by extension, me.
The second option of a civil ceremony seemed initially far more straight forward and provided a lot more options to us when it came to venue choices. However, it turns out there are still more complications there too.
In the UK the venue that you choose to get married in must be licensed to perform weddings, it must have a roof and be moored to its foundations – oh yes, and the wedding must take place between the hours of 8am and 6pm. So garden weddings, weddings on the beach, weddings at midnight are all out. None of these ceremonies would be legally acceptable as a “wedding” in the eyes of UK law. It turns out that when they say “wedding,” they mean signing the register.
Luckily the venue we have chosen is licensed to perform weddings, win! But you still have to make an appointment and pay for the superintendent registrar to attend your wedding in order to make it legal. So, that’s 500 smackeroonies just so they can come with the register for you to sign it, which takes 3 minutes. I think I’m in the wrong business!
If we do the signing of the register at the registry office it costs only £40, and we can have our venue’s ceremony at whatever time we please – we don’t have to fit in with a registrars diary or ensure we are wrapped up before they need to go to their next appointment, and so that’s what we’ve chosen to do.
We will have our awesome fabulous ceremony at the time we want, where we want it (outside in the beautiful gardens) and how we want it. We will sign the register at the registry office on another day in that week.
So that brings us to this week’s fail. As part of the civil ceremony process we have to attend the registry office to “give notice” of our intention to get married. If you have a church wedding this is replaced with a “reading of the banns.” I had booked the appointment about a month before, along with our date to do the legal sections of our wedding and somehow managed to mix up the dates and time.
In my diary I had the time as 2pm, but when I went downstairs at 10:15am on Monday to find the letter I realised that was the time for our registry signing and our notice appointment was actually 10am. FAIL. I quickly rang them and they were able to fit us in at 11am.
We rushed down to the Town Hall and were pointed in the direction of the marriage ceremony waiting room which was really dreary and full of signs like “NO FOOD OR DRINK” (how romantic!). When we were shown into an office by our registrar it quickly transpired that we didn’t have the correct ID with us, one driving license each wasn’t enough – we must have separate ID and proof of address. DOUBLE FAIL.
So now we must make another appointment to give notice, and take another day off work in order to do so. Hopefully next time we’ll get it right!