Marriages & civil partnerships

Further to the government’s announcement of the Covid recovery roadmap, we are delighted to be able to reopen to new marriage and civil partnership ceremony bookings. Please contact us to request a booking.

Notice appointments are now also available to book for couples marrying within the next 3 months, who are residents of the local area. Until travel restrictions are eased, we are unfortunately not able to take bookings for customers from further afield.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to unprecedented demand we have limited notice appointment availability, so we strongly advise you to check this before booking your ceremony.

In order to remain Covid secure, the Museum and Town Hall ceremony room has a maximum capacity of 12 people. This includes the parties to the marriage/civil partnership, as well as children, witnesses and photographers.

Guest limits are expected to return to pre-pandemic numbers from 21 June, depending on government advice.

Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies

The current government guidelines stipulate that ceremonies must be short and all parties must wear a face covering other than the couple.

The legal limit on the number of attendees may vary while nationwide restrictions are in place, but for safety reasons our ceremony room currently has a maximum capacity of 12. This includes the couple, witnesses and photographer. Unfortunately we are unable to include readings as part of the ceremony at this time.

Before the ceremony can take place you are required to have a private interview with the Registrar during which you will be asked to confirm/update the details given at your notice appointment. You must both arrive, to be seen together, 15 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony. If you have not already paid for your certificates you will be asked to do so on the day.

You may wish to enter the ceremony room to music of your own choice, which must be played from your own mobile device.

During the ceremony the Registrar will ask you to repeat the declaratory words, or to sign the civil partnership schedule. If you are making additional vows or giving rings, you will be able to do this after the formal requirements have been fulfilled.

Once the marriage or civil partnership has been registered, we can issue certificates. Please note that it may not always be possible to issue extra copies of the certificates to you on the day; if this is the case extra certificates will be sent out in the post to you.

Please note that we do not permit animals at ceremonies within the Reading Registration Service premises, except for registered assistance dogs. If an approved venue permits a couple to have animals or wildlife at the ceremony, the venue is entirely responsible for the health and safety of the guests and any housekeeping issues which may arise as a result. Please, let us know about the arrangements in advance.

If you want to get married, or form a civil partnership, you must:

  • be over 18, or 16 with parental consent
  • live in the UK and have lived in your registration district for at least nine days
  • be legally free to get married
  • attend a notice of marriage or civil partnership appointment at your district Register Office

Giving notice of marriage or civil partnerships

You must give at least 29 days’ notice before your marriage or civil partnership ceremony. In the current circumstances we ask that you please leave at least 30 days, to ensure that all arrangements are in place. If you are a foreign national, the Home Office may want to increase the notice to 70 days to carry out investigations.

Notice of marriage lasts for one year.

It costs £35 to give notice of a marriage, or £47 if Home Office immigration referral is necessary.

Foreign divorce document checking fees apply, please see Register Office Fees and Charges.

Book an appointment with a registrar

Contact the Register Office on 0118 9373533 to book an appointment.

If you don’t live in Reading, find your local register office and give notice there.

At the appointment you will need to show proof of nationality and address.

If you have been married or in a civil marriage previously, you will also need to show proof of how it ended – usually a death certificate or dissolution/divorce documents.

If you are subject to immigration control you will also need to show:

  • a valid passport of Home Office travel document
  • evidence of your immigration status in the UK
  • a UK passport-style and -size photograph of both of you

We work collaboratively with the Home Office to ensure marriages do not break the Immigration Act. The Registration Officer is obliged to check your immigration status. The Home Office may want to investigate further.

Approved venues

List of approved venues in Reading

If you want to get another venue approved for your ceremony you should contact us. We do not usually approve open air venues or temporary structures. It should not have a religious connection and should be a public venue.

Planning the ceremony

After you have booked your marriage ceremony with us and given your notice of marriage, please complete the online marriage planner. You need to do this at least two weeks before the date of your ceremony. The planner helps you to decide on the style of ceremony but it also helps the Registrar to know what you want for your day.

The marriage ceremony

The current government guidelines stipulate that ceremonies must be short and all parties to a ceremony must wear a face covering other than the bride and groom. The legal limit on the number of people attending a ceremony is 15, but for safety reasons our ceremony room has a maximum capacity of 12, including the couple, witnesses and photographer. Unfortunately we are unable to include readings as part of the ceremony at this time.

Before the ceremony can take place you are required to have a private interview with the Registrar during which you will be asked to confirm/update the details given at your notice appointment. You must both arrive, to be seen together, 15 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony. If you have not already paid for your marriage certificates you will be asked to do so on the day.

You may wish to enter the ceremony room to music of your own choice, which must be played from your own mobile device and Bluetooth speaker.

During the ceremony the Registrar will read out the declaratory words, followed by the contracting words you have chosen, and you will be asked to repeat these in turn. If you are giving rings, you will then be asked to exchange them and repeat any optional ring vows.

You and your witnesses will then be asked to sign the marriage register, followed by the Registrar.

Once the marriage has been registered we can issue certificates. However, please note that it may not always be possible to issue extra copies of the certificates to you on the day; if this is the case extra certificates will be sent out in the post or can be collected from the Register Office at a later date.

Please, note that we do not permit animals at ceremonies within the Reading Registration Service premises, except for registered assistance dogs. If an approved venue permits a couple to have animals or wildlife at the ceremony, the venue is entirely responsible for the health and safety of the guests and any housekeeping issues which may arise as a result. Please, let us know about the arrangements in advance.

Converting civil partnership into marriage

You should read the information on Gov.uk and contact the Register Office to make an appointment, if you want to convert your civil partnership to marriage.

You may want to hold a conversion ceremony where you sign a declaration, which legally converts your civil partnership into marriage. Find out more about civil partnership conversion.

Replacement marriage certificate

Replacement marriage certificate application form