Can we have our civil ceremony on the same day but AFTER our main ceremony?

I don't seem to be able to find anyone "official" to answer this, so I'm turning to you for advice!
We are having our wedding in September, and because an outside ceremony has always been our dream, we realised early that this ceremony can't be combined with the civil one. This suits us because my lovely Godmother is doing our "real" ceremony very much in the humanist style, and we definitely want that to feel spiritual. Our plan was to have a civil ceremony also at the venue immediately afterwards, but totally in private with just a couple of witnesses. To us this is really just the equivalent of when a couple would go to sign the register in a church wedding (but with a few necessary words too obviously). 
The problem though is that when I spoke to the registrar she was really digging her heels in about the fact that this would mean our "other" ceremony was blessing a marriage that hadn't happened. I explained that we see that as the real wedding, and the civil bit is just a formality, but she's being quite difficult. From my research though, there is no actual legal reason for this to be a there?

We did talk about having the civil ceremony a couple of days before, but we just know that we'd feel slightly like some of the magic of the day was taken away that way. And my partner doesn't want to do the civil bit on the same day but BEFORE the ceremony, because he wants the first time he sees me to be the moment I appear at the end of the aisle in my dress. And we can't do it the day after because we're going on our honeymoon. And leaving it until after we're back would make the honeymoon feel really hollow. I know a lot of you won't agree with out wish to do it this way around, but it's what's right for us...

Thanks in advance for anything you might know about this!


  • Elz2017Elz2017 Posts: 316

    Can't see any legal reason for this to be an issue - but you could ring the CAB to check (they have a bit about marriages on their website so I'm sure an advisor could help you over the phone)

    All the registrar has to do is be in the right place at the right time surely - none of her business how you spend the rest of your day I'd have thought! 

  • Ybur2Ybur2 Posts: 1

    Of course you can! 

    The bit you're doing before (your main ceremony) isn't legal so there isn't any reason it should affect your legal bit! We're doing the same although having the legal bit in the registry office beforehand first thing in the morn because our venue isn't licensed. I think the way you're suggesting is lovely and I'd do it that way if it didn't mean leaving our venue!!

  • elvis4nutselvis4nuts Posts: 102

    I totally understand what you are saying and we are doing something very similar, but doing the "legal" bit two days later.  It is called a "basic registration of marriage" where you just do the legal bit, no pomp & ceremony.

    Whoever you spoke to is obviously too stuck in her ways to understand what you wanted and quite frankly it is none of her business! Your ceremony isn't a blessing, its when you are getting married.

    I had this with some of my family..... "So you wont ACTUALLY be married then on what you are CALLING your wedding day???!!!"

    Yes.  We will.......   No not in the eye of the law but that is the least important bit! 

  • Michelle330Michelle330 Posts: 119

    As long as your venue is licensed then there’s no reason you can’t do it this way round. Just book a registrar for the time you want them there and that’s all they have to do. You don’t need to do rings or anything then, basically infront if the registrar and your witnesses say yow vows they pronounce you husband and wife you sign the register job done. No more than 20 mins tops. 


    Thats all you need to do to get legally married, what you do the rest of your day in whatever order doesn’t matter

  • Ruth118Ruth118 Posts: 7

    Thank you all! That's what I thought originally, but  I definitely feel more reassured now about standing firm on this when I talk to the registrar again.


  • Lexi90Lexi90 Posts: 971

    I can’t see any reason why either. We are legally getting married 2 days before our wedding. When I called to book and said we wanted the 2 witnesses statutory ceremony as we are having our wedding day 2 days later the lady was like “no the legal one is your real wedding, you need to know it’s your wedding day and official” she was quite forceful Too. I said I was aware of that. To be honest to us it’s mainly paperwork and when we gave Notice the lady there said it was becoming more and more common to do that. We aren’t exchanging rings and just doing the basic vows, no wedding dress etc , so I can’t see how it will take the magic away from our big day. 

  • Barbie3Barbie3 Posts: 340 New bride

    Do what U want.

    Anything u do outside of the legal ceremony is none of the registrar's business, and I think ur plan sounds great!

    I know at least 3 couples who've got legally married privately then had a blessing/ceremony/party on a different days n counted that as there wedding date.  They all had fantastic weddings n noone thought NEthing of it.

  • MrsTwizbeMrsTwizbe Posts: 3,352 New bride

    I think the registrars get quite forceful about this because the legal bit is the most important bit. There has been lots of coverage lately of couples having a religious / symbolic wedding but not doing the legal part and then having issues later on. Particularly women ending up in vulnerable situations because they didn't know their wedding wasn't legal.

    It is also part of their job to ensure you understand that the legal ceremony is your wedding date in so much as any legal proceedings (e.g. if you later divorce) will date your marriage from that date and not any symbolic ceremony regardless of what anniversary the couple celebrate.

    I don't think they are trying to be 'judgy' just doing their job which is the legal registration of marriages.

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,942 New bride

    Agree with TwizBe - I don't think they are being awkward, but it is a legal transaction and it is their responsibility to ensure couples understand the gravity of it.

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