Civil ceremonies in Dorset & Hampshire

If you don’t plan a religious ceremony, there are two types of venue for civil marriages and partnership ceremonies: a register office or an approved venue licensed for the purpose.
Although you may not incorporate any religious content into a civil marriage ceremony, most registrars are happy to include individual touches provided they can have sight of your choices of readings and music beforehand, so they can ensure they comply with the law.
Register office weddings are typically easy, intimate and inexpensive and, while in the past the ambience might have left a little to be desired, nowadays register office marriage rooms are smart and comfortable.
They will usually have a display of fresh flowers in season and the facility to play music.

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On the day…

Before the ceremony

Guests should arrive around 20 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin. They will be shown to a waiting room before being invited into the marriage room at the appropriate time. Both bride and groom should arrive at the wedding venue 15 minutes before the ceremony, so the registrar can finally confirm the information to be recorded on the register, collect any fees which are still owing and check all the details of your ceremony. Bride and groom can be interviewed either together or separately, if they don’t want to see each other before the wedding. Whatever you do, don’t be fashionably late! While your registrars will make every effort to accommodate a late arrival, they may be committed to other appointments – especially on Saturdays, so do allow for traffic problems and unforeseen hold-ups.

Arrival of the bride

The bride can be escorted into the marriage room to processional music by her father or family friend or the couple can enter together. It is perfectly acceptable to have bridesmaids and attendants if you wish, though if you’re marrying in a register office, bear in mind the restrictions on space.

The ceremony

The registrar will begin by welcoming everyone and explaining what will happen during the ceremony, reminding you of the solemn and binding nature of the vows you are about to make. The couple will then be asked to declare their intention to marry, make their vows to each other and exchange rings if they decide to do so. While there are strict legal constraints on the declarations and contracting words you must say, you may also write your own promises to each other, which you can ask the registrar to lead you through on the day.

Signing the register

In the final part of the ceremony, the registrar will oversee the signing of the marriage register by the bride and groom and two adult witnesses. At every part of the proceedings, the registrar will explain what is happening and lead the couple through their responses.

BOURNEMOUTH REGISTER OFFICE

Town Hall, Bourne Avenue, Bournemouth BH2 6EB
Tel: 01202 454945
Email: registrars@bournemouth.gov.uk
Website: www.bournemouth.gov.uk/living

With a choice of three rooms available from Monday to Saturday midday and the Council Chamber, available seven days a week.
Surrounded by some of the most famous gardens in the UK, the impressive Town Hall offers a unique venue, its magnificent facade providing a spectacular entrance for you and your guests.
The oak panelled Council Chamber with its domed ceiling, galleries and curved seating has a truly statesman-like air. It accommodates up to 130 people.
The Willows is a timeless and elegant room, richly decorated and enhanced by crystal chandeliers.  Ceremonies with up to 50 guests are conducted in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in this formal setting. The Register Office itself has a small room accommodating up to 10 guests for those who want a small private affair.

HAMPSHIRE REGISTRATION SERVICES

Offices throughout Hampshire
Tel: 0845 603 5637
Email:
Website: www3.hants.gov.uk/registration

With offices in Aldershot, Alton, Andover, Basingstoke,  Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Lymington, Petersfield, Ringwood, Romsey, Totton and Winchester. To help you arrange your marriage you will need to speak to a Registration Officer during register office opening hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm).
Their Contact Centre (0845 603 5637 – call charges apply) is open Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9.30am – 4pm. If you make contact outside register office opening hours, Contact Centre colleagues will take your details and ensure that a registration officer returns your call the next working day.

POOLE GUILDHALL

Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH
Tel: 01202 633744/3745
Email:
Website: www.poole.gov.uk

Built in 1761, the historic Guildhall in the heart of Poole’s old town provides a charming venue for weddings and civil partnerships. Its main features comprise a large ceremony room with enough space for up to 120 guests and the eye-catching facade with its cast-iron and stone staircase presenting a grand backdrop for photographs.

SOUTHAMPTON REGISTER OFFICE

6a, Bugle Street, Southampton
Tel: 02380 915327
Email: registrars@southampton.gov.uk
Website: www.southampton.gov.uk

Built in 1761, the historic Guildhall in the heart of Poole’s old town provides a charming venue for weddings and civil partnerships. Its main features comprise a large ceremony room with enough space for up to 120 guests and the eye-catching facade with its cast-iron and stone staircase presenting a grand backdrop for photographs.