Civil ceremonies in Bristol, Somerset & Wiltshire

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.


The Guildhall, High Street, Bath BA1 5AW
Tel: 01225 477234



The Old Council House, Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1JG
Tel: 01179 222 800



Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH
Tel: 01793 463000



Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1UJ
Tel: 01934 427552