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Marriages and Civil Partnerships

Marriages and Civil Partnerships

The current impact of Coronavirus/Covid-19 on the registration service

Updated on 24 February 2021

The Prime Minister announced on Monday, 22nd February, 2021 a roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions [external link]

The impact on marriages and civil partnerships is

Who can attend the marriage or civil partnerships ?

Date of the marriage or civil partnership How many people can attend?
Up to 28 March 6 people maximum but only qualifying exceptional circumstances
29 March 11 April 6 people maximum and exceptional circumstances no longer apply
12 April to 16 May 15 people maximum
17 May to 20 June 30 people maximum
21 June onwards

No restrictions

Statutory marriage room: 4 people maximum (couple being married plus two witnesses only)

The Council Chamber Foyer: 12 people maximum (the couple being married plus 10 witnesses only)

The Council Chamber: 70 people maximum (the couple being married plus 68 witnesses only)

Approved venues such as hotels: as per the licence of that hotel (contact us if you need any help with this).

Who is included in these numbers ?

The numbers quoted includes the couple being married, guests and legal witnesses. Children aged 1 and over are classed as a guest.

You do not need to include anyone “working at the wedding” including the registrars, photographers, videographers and hotel staff in the maximum number of persons who can attend.

To comply with government rules, these numbers will be strictly enforced, you should not bring additional guests as they won’t be permitted into the wedding.

What other restrictions apply ?

The following restrictions still apply to weddings:

  • A maximum number of people can attend as above.
  • You must provide test and trace details of those attending.
  • All guests are required to wear a face covering. This does not apply to the couple being married, children under the age 11, the registrars and also anyone who can prove they are exempt. More information about wearing a face covering can be found of the .gov website face covering guidance page [external link]
  • There will be restrictions on live music during the ceremony, photography and also on the content and length of the ceremony. You can contact us if you have any queries or more information can be found on the .gov marriage and civil partnership guidance page [externa link]

We have a legal obligation to enforce these restrictions which are set by the government to ensure a safe environment for us all.

Will there be further changes ?

Further government announcements may be made which could impact your wedding. These may include changes to any of the above restrictions or the ability for your wedding to proceed on your intended date.

If your wedding is impacted by any further government announcements or restrictions then we will contact you to make you aware of them and discuss your options with you.

Civil Marriage Venues in Darlington

Darlington Register Office

You can be married in one of our three rooms:

  1. The Statutory Marriage Room
  2. The Council Chamber Foyer
  3. The Council Chamber

The Statutory Marriage Room

By law, each Registration District has to designate a 'register office' and provide a Civil Marriage or Civil Partnership Ceremony at a statutory rate which is currently £46 plus certificates.

Statutory Marriage Room costs and details 
Availability Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday only at either 9:30 am or 10:30 am only
Price £68.00 (includes two marriage certificates)
Number of people who can attend. The couple being married and two witnesses only.
Booking Restrictions

Can be booked a maximum of a year ahead.

To meet covid-19 social restrictions requirements we have temporarily relocated the statutory marriage room to a larger room. Photographs of the temporary statutory marriage room are on our website.

* At least one of the parties must live in Darlington, that is you pay your council tax to Darlington Borough Council.

The temporary marriage room from the left

The temporary statutory marriage room from the left

The temporary marriage room from the right

The temporary statutory marriage room from the right

The Council Chamber Foyer

Council Chamber Foyer costs and details
Availability

Monday to Saturdays only at either

11:00; 12:00; 13:00; 14:00; 15:00 and 16:00 (16:00 available Saturdays but not Fridays)

Price £152.00 (includes two marriage certificates)
Number of people who can attend. The couple being married, 10 guests (two of whom are the witnesses) and one photographer.
Booking Restrictions Can be booked up to 2 years ahead.

The Council Chamber

Council chamber costs and details
Availability

Monday to Saturdays only at either

11:00; 12:00; 13:00; 14:00; 15:00 and 16:00 (16:00 available Saturdays but not Fridays)

Price £307.00 (includes two marriage certificates)
Number of people who can attend. The couple being married, 68 guests (two of whom are the witnesses) and one photographer.
Booking Restrictions Can be booked up to 2 years ahead.
An image of the Council chambers where ceremonies are performed

Council Chamber

The setup where ceremonies are performed

Council Chamber Foyer

A view of the seating arrangements in the Council chambers

Council Chamber

Approved Venues (for example a hotel wedding)

Approved Venues costs and details
Availability All days (except Christmas Day and Good Friday) at either 11.30; 13:00; 14.30 or 16.00
Price £562.00 (includes two marriage certificates)
Number of people who can attend.

Normally: each approved venue has a number of rooms licensed for civil ceremonies and each designated room has a maximum capacity of persons who can be present. The venue will be able to give you more information.

Current Covid Restrictions: The couple being married, 13 guests and one any paid photographers, videographers or musicians . A “guest” includes any children aged 1 or over.

Booking Restrictions

Available to Darlington and non- Darlington residents.

Can be booked up to 2 years ahead.

You should check availability with the venue before contacting us.

It is currently only possible to book a wedding in an approved venue from January 2021 onwards.

Details about our fees and the times we offer and how to book a wedding at one of our approved venues can be found elsewhere in this page

Religious Marriages

Church of England

Notice of marriage for a Church of England ceremony is given directly at the church and are known as 'banns'.

You should seek advice from the church where the marriage is taking place to arrange for banns. You are not required to attend the register office to give notice of marriage unless one or both of you are not nationals of the EEA (European Economic Area). In this case you should contact the local Designated Register Office, Middlesbrough Register Office (01642 729004) for advice.

All other denominations

Marriages in religious Buildings other than Church of England Buildings (otherwise known as 'Non Conformist' religions) require a couple to give Notice of Marriage with the register office in the district which they reside (which may not be the district of the location of the marriage) and are given the authority to marry by Superintendents Certificate for Marriage rather than Banns as in a Church of England.

Again if one or both of you are not nationals of the EEA (European Economic Area) in which case you should contact the local Designated Register Office, Middlesbrough Register Office (01642 729004) for advice.

These rules apply to all marriages in the Catholic, Methodist, Modern Christian, Spiritualist and Sikh religions.

A marriage in a mosque according to the Islamic faith may not always be legally recognised in this country. Couples who have been through a form of marriage ceremony in a mosque usually require a civil marriage (for example, in the register office) for them to acquire the legal rights of marriage.

The Jewish and Quaker faiths are bound by different marriage rules to civil and all other religious groups. You should contact the synagogue or friends meeting house where the marriage is to take place to make the appropriate arrangements or contact the Register Office for initial advice.

Getting Married abroad

If you are getting married outside of the United Kingdom you should make the appropriate arrangements with the authorities for that country. Information on getting married abroad [external link].

You do not have to inform anyone in this Country that you have been married for example you do not have to register, deposit or record details of the marriage here.

A marriage is only ever registered where it occurs and therefore your local register office does not need to know that the marriage has taken place upon your return.

Some countries, but not all, require you to provide the authorities of the country where the marriage is taking with a 'Certificate of no impediment'. Should you be asked for this document you should contact the register office in the district where you live for further advice on how to get one.

Not all foreign marriages, particularly some religious marriages, are legally recognised in the United Kingdom. Should you have any queries about the validity of a marriage you should contact the General Register Office on 0300 1231837 for further advice.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Although part of the United Kingdom, marriage laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland are different to those in England and Wales.

If you are a resident of England or Wales and you want to marry in Scotland or Northern Ireland you should make the appropriate arrangements with the place of the ceremony or contact the Scottish Registrar General [external link] or the Northern Ireland Registrar General [external link].

If you are a resident of Scotland or Northern Ireland and you want to marry in England and Wales you should contact the Register Office in the district of the Marriage for advice as you may be required to complete a period as a temporary resident of England & Wales before being able to give Notice of Marriage.

Non European Economic Area Citizens

If your nationality is that of a country not in the EEA, but you want to get married in England or Wales, contact the Register Office in the district you live for further advice.

Booking and paying for the ceremony

The dates and times of availability for ceremonies are managed and at the discretion of the Superintendent Registrar.

Availability

Once you have chosen an approved venue for your wedding and have agreed with the venue that they are available on that date that you require then you should contact the Register Office to make a booking. We recommend that you confirm our availability before making any financial commitment to the venue. This is because we may not be able to honour any availability should you contact us after committing to the venue first. 

For Register Office Weddings in the Council Chamber, The Foyer or the Statutory Marriage Room you should speak to the Superintendent Registrar to set the date and time of the wedding. You should have an idea of a date or range of dates when you call.

Bookings can be made for Approved Venues, the Council Chamber and the Foyer up to two years ahead. Bookings for the Statutory Marriage Room can only be made up to one year ahead.

Making a booking

Bookings for weddings can be made by phoning the register office on 01325 406400. We hold these bookings provisionally for one calendar month from making the booking. During this time a booking form must be returned to us and payment for the wedding made in full. A booking is only a valid booking once the booking form has been completed and the wedding paid in full.

We are unable to respond to direct email requests for availability. Please telephone the register office to enquire or alternatively use the enquiry form below.

Your details

Basic information
Contact information

Address

Fees for the Wedding

Weddings in Approved Venues or the Council Chamber.

Fees for these weddings must be paid in full with the booking form. Paying the wedding in installments is not available.

We recommend that you do not pay any fees to venues until you have confirmed our availability to attend your wedding as we can't be responsible for not being able to accommodate agreements with venues prior to checking our availability.

How to book and pay

You can return your completed booking form and pay your fees by either

  • Return the completed booking form with a cheque or postal order for the appropriate amount payable to “Darlington Borough Council” and a receipt will be posted to you.
  • Returning the completed booking form to us by email to [email protected] and then making a payment on our website
  • A wedding is only a confirmed booking once we have received both the booking form and the payment.
  • When making a payment you should pay the full amount and quote a reference which is unique to your wedding in the format dd/mm/yyyy/surname. For example, 21082021JONES.
  • Booking Form [pdf document]
  • Terms and Conditions [pdf document]
  • Make a payment online

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Making the Legal arrangements

Legal Paperwork – Notice of Marriage

Covid Update:

  • If you are rescheduling your wedding you need to ensure that your notices of marriage will be valid for the date of your new wedding. If you contact us on 01325 406 400 we can check this for you.
  • If you are keeping the same venue but need to give new notices of marriage for the rescheduled date then we will not charge you for new notices of marriage
  • If you are moving your wedding to another venue then we will charge you for new notices of marriage as you have chosen to change venue unless your original venue has gone into administration during the Covid-19 period.

If you are being married in a Church of England Church then you do not need to give notice of marriage. You should contact the church arrange to give “banns”.

If you are having a civil wedding, civil partnership or are being married in a religious building other than a Church of England Church. for example a Catholic, Methodist or other type of religion then you need to give notice of marriage or civil partnership.

You should only contact Darlington Register Office is you are a resident of Darlington for example, you pay your Council Tax to Darlington Borough Council.​

Why do I have to give notice of Marriage?

  • It is a legal requirement to give notice of your intent to be married. Without giving a valid notice of marriage the ceremony cannot go ahead.
  • This can be done at the earliest one year and no later than 29 days before the marriage.
  • Residents outside of England and Wales (even if you are a British Citizen) should contact us to arrange to discuss the required residency rules to be able to give Notice of Marriage, including those who live in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What documents will I have to bring?

Each person giving notice is required to bring the following documents (original versions only):

Proof of your name, date and place of birth and nationality

  • A Current Passport and/or
  • A Birth Certificate

(if you were born in or after 1983 and you do not hold a current passport, a full birth certificate, and your mothers birth certificate must be provided)

  • Current Photo National Identity Card if you are a non British Citizen
  • Any change of name documents such as a Change of name deed or official deed poll.
  • A completed parental consent form is you are under 18 at the time of giving notice.

Proof of your status:

  • A decree absolute if you have been divorced
  • A death certificate of your former husband/wife if you have been widowed.

Should your divorce have been granted in a county outside of England and Wales, there will be a fee payable at the time of your appointment for verifying the validity of these documents. This fee depends upon the country where the divorce papers were granted.

If your divorce is from outside England and Wales you should make this known to us when making an appointment as it will affect the process of giving Notice of Marriage.

Proof of your current address:

  • This must be dated within 3 months of you giving notice of marriage. Evidence can include a current Driving Licence, Bank Statement, Council Tax Bill, Utility Bill, Payslip or details of Benefits or Income Tax.

Is there a fee?

Yes, the current statutory fee is £35 per person and is payable at the time of giving notice. This can be made by cash, cheque or card.

Do I need an appointment?

Yes, we operate an appointment system and you must both attend in person for your appointment. Contact us on 01325 406400 to book an appointment.

Non EEA (European Economic Area) Citizens

  • Non EEA Citizens are also required to give notice of marriage to be married in England and Wales.
  • However to comply with immigration control requirements, you must give notice at a “designated register office” who only have the authority to grant authority for non EEA citizens to be able to be married.
  • Our local designated office for Darlington Citizens is Middlesbrough Register Office (01642 729004) who can advise you on the documents and procedure that you will need to follow.
  • You should still contact the Register Office or place of marriage to make the appropriate ceremony booking before giving notice of marriage at Middlesbrough.

Further Advice:

The date, time and venue of the ceremony also form part of the notice of marriage or civil partnership. Therefore you will also need to either have a provisional booking with a venue or know an approximate date for your ceremony when attending for your appointment.

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4. Planning and Organising the Ceremony

Covid-19 Update

The legal requirements for a Civil Ceremony are minimal and allow you to personalise your ceremony in terms of vows, readings, music, dedicating candles, making promises to children and lots more.

You will be provided with information which will guide you through the order of the ceremony, the legal requirements and also some suggestions for ways to make the ceremony more personal and meaningful.

Before the ceremony you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and return it to us so that the Registrar performing the ceremony has all of the necessary information. You will also be provided with information which will clarify how the ceremony works including timescales for the day.

If you would like to see the register office marriage facilities before you book it then you can make an appointment with us on 01325 406 400 for a viewing. If you will be giving notice of marriage with us as a Darlington resident we will include the viewing as part of your notice of marriage appointment.

The purpose of a Civil Ceremony is to provide an alternative to a religious ceremony and therefore a Civil Ceremony cannot include any words, music, readings or rituals which are intentionally or obviously religious. For example, readings from the bible, or hymns.

We do try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate requests to make your ceremony personal and many pieces of music and readings are allowed which you might not think are.

If you have any questions or concerns about this you should contact us for further advice.

All ceremony fees must be paid before the day of the wedding.

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Under 18

If you are under 18 on the day of your Marriage you will need to get consent from an appropriate parent or legal guardian before being able to give notice of marriage. Contact the Register Office in the district you live for further advice.

Urgent Marriages

Where a Marriage is required to take place sooner than 16 days a Registrar General’s Licence may be obtained and the ceremony will take place somewhere not approved for a marriage or civil partnership (for an example, an individuals' home or a hospital).

Registrars Generals Licence’s are most commonly granted for Marriages where one of the parties is terminally ill and can't be moved to a place currently registered for Marriage.

Should you be in this situation contact us on 01325 406400 during office hours or on our emergency out of hours number 07932 538910 for advice.

Passports and name change

On the day of your wedding after signing the Marriage Register your will be provided with two marriage certificates, the fees for which are included in the quoted ceremony fees.

These certificates are proof or evidence of the marriage and you should keep them safe. You may be asked to produce this certificate to notify people that you have been married providing them with an update of your current legal status.

Following the marriage you have a number of options in how express your surname:

  • You can both keep your individual names as they were prior to the marriage (you are not obliged to change your name because you have become married).
  • One of you can change your surname to that of the other (the bride most often changes her name to that of the groom but the groom may change his name to the bride's).
  • One or both of you can change your name to a double barrelled version of the two surnames.

The marriage certificate should be sufficient evidence as an entitlement to use any of the surnames or combination of the surnames of the bride and groom. There is therefore no need to do a deed poll following a marriage if you are intending to use a surname or combination of surnames of the parties to the marriage.

If you are changing your name on a passport you can change your name after the marriage or up to 3 months before the marriage. 

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