Cost comparisons

So, you’re getting married, congratulations! There are going to be a lot of big decisions to make and more than likely you will have a budget to consider. Even if you don’t (lucky you !) you may be curious as to where your hard-earned cash is going when it comes to the ceremony. So I’m going to break it down a little for you, starting with legal ceremony fees:

Giving notice of marriage/civil partnership:

£35 per person, however if you are subject to immigration and do not have the minimum requirements to prove your status you will be charged £47 to give notice. Remember you have to give notice at least 28 days before your proposed ceremony date and the notice period can be extended up to 70 days if you do not meet the specified criteria regarding immigration status in the UK. So no spontaneous ceremonies allowed with the register office!

You can find all the information you require on the UKGOV webpages here:

The giving notice stage provides you with the permission to marry and you must state which licensed venue/approved place of worship that you wish to marry at, which then binds you to that venue unless you wish to pay (and wait for 28 days etc) to give notice again.

Now, on to what it costs to marry at an approved wedding venue:

Register offices can set their own fees with regards to attending outside approved venues, below is one example of these fees.

As I am based in London I have used a London register office for comparison and the information is correct as of 28th February 2016. *

Monday-Friday / before 5pm£450
Monday-Friday / after 5pm£635
Saturday / before 5pm£520
Saturday / after 5pm£635
Sunday and bank holidays£635

Fine Room One (up to 100 guests)

Sunday and bank holidays£800

Fine Room Two (up to 70 guests)

Sunday and bank holidays£700

Fine Room Three (up to 30 guests)

Sunday and bank holidays£520

Sir Peter Wakefield Room (Library) (up to 50 guests)

Sunday and bank holidays£520

So, in this particular office, fees can cost as much as £800, before you even think about the actual party!  But what does this include?

  1. Prices include a non-refundable booking fee, the registrars’ attendance and one certificate.
  2. The registrars will arrive approximately 30 minutes before the ceremony and will require an on-time start. Busy register offices will more than likely have to attend a ceremony before/after yours and therefore cannot be delayed. Consequently your ceremony will be a prescribed length.
  3. The registrars will have to approve your readings and music to ensure there is no religious content. So even at an approved venue you cannot incorporate any spiritual elements into your ceremony, you will need to do this separately.
  4. The ceremony will be a template with little scope for personalisation, apart from your own personal vows (which may have to be submitted in advance for approval).
  5. You may not have the opportunity to meet your appointed registrar in advance and it is very unlikely you will have a rehearsal beforehand. Certainly that is the case with the example I am using here.

Now my fee:

Monday-Friday / before 5pm£550
Monday-Friday / after 5pm£550
Saturday / before 5pm£550
Saturday / after 5pm£550
Sunday and bank holidays£625

As you can see I only charge a little extra on Sundays and Bank Holidays and my fee is  not dependant on the number of guests present, in fact it is negotiable for private, couples-only ceremonies (price on application). What does my fee include?

First non-obligation meeting.

All telephone/skype calls until the big day.

If you are London based I do not limit the number of meetings (at a mutually agreed location) we have leading up to the day.

A bespoke written ceremony, delivered for you on the day, with no restriction on content.

A rehearsal before the day.

Advice on readings, rituals and music.

Complimentary certificate and a copy of the ceremony to keep.

Coordination on the day itself – organising the bridal party, music, readings etc. I will also arrive at least one hour early. Use me as you wish!

Unlimited time on the day itself. I will not book another ceremony on the same day as yours.

The bonus of knowing your celebrant and having built up a rapport with them before the big day. So much nicer than having a stranger marry you!

Obviously I am a little biased in my argument here, but is hard to argue that spending up to £800 for a wedding ceremony is good value for money when you look at what you will actually receive for the fee.Paragraph

Of course if you do want to be legally married all of this isn’t going to help you! But the good news is you need only spend as little as £50 to have a legal wedding ceremony. This is called the “statutory wedding” which will take place in the register office – usually literally an office but if you shop around you may be able to find some that look better than others (remember to choose the venue before you give your notice). Every register office must offer the statutory wedding service but as it doesn’t generate any revenue it is usually only offered on a weekday. You will usually only be allowed two witnesses (check with the office in question) and it will be very quick. So you can be legally married for £120 (2 x marriage notices and statutory wedding) which allows you to spend money on a brilliant, personal, no restrictions ceremony with your friendly celebrant!

If you still aren’t convinced then please head to my testimonial page for some lovely reviews and comments from my clients!

Emma x

* Please note that registrar attendance fees and service provided for approved wedding venues, will vary throughout the London boroughs and from region to region within England and Wales. My comments are an example of one such office based on my own research.