In England and Wales if you don't wish to get married or civil partnered in a church, you may have a marriage/civil partnership conducted by the Registration Service at a registration office or at a venue which is licensed for marriages and civil partnerships.
And now the eight step process for both statutory and independent ceremonies:
1.Choose the place you want to have your independent wedding/civil partnership
2. Choose the date of your independent wedding/partnership ceremony
Once you have decided these two things you can start planning everything else around your date and place.
3. And now for the legal process…
Choose a registration office for your legal marriage/civil partnership. (Any office in England and Wales)
You need to decide on the registration office first, because it will be recorded when you give notice and if you change your mind later you would have to go through the whole process, including paying the fee, all over again.
If you are coming to lovely Devon in the week before your wedding, and you wish to do the legal bit here you can find a local Registration Office here:
4. Now you need to make a phone call to the Registration Office where you would like to have your legal marriage/civil partnership, to book a date and time. In Devon, this telephone number is 0345 155 1002.
If you are having your legal marriage/civil partnership somewhere else you will be able to find the number on the internet: search for www.your county.gov.uk and then search for “marriages”
You just need to ask to book a marriage ceremony/civil partnership and they will ask relevant questions! It's good to confirm you can have the date and time that you want for your legalities.
The registration service may ask you to pay in full at the time of booking. The statutory fee for a ceremony with two witnesses is £46. [plus £11 for each marraige certificate]
5. Next you need to make an appointment to give notice.
If you are having your legal marriage/civil partnership in your home registration office, the person you spoke to at step 4 will almost certainly ask you about booking your appointment. Or you could ask them.
BUT if you are getting married/ civil partnered at a registration office outside of your home district, you will need to make a separate appointment to give notice in the district where you live. If the two of you live at separate addresses it is possible that you will need to go to different offices to give notice, depending on district boundaries.
Remember to check which documents you will need to take with you to this appointment.
Notice to marry/register a civil partnership must be given not later than 28 days before your legal marriage/civil partnership; it can be given up to one year before your legal event.
TOP TIP: try to make an appointment as soon as you can, as close to 12 months from your legal event as practicable – it’s great to get this formality completed; one less thing to worry about and no last minute panics.
Twenty-eight days after you have given notice, the registration service produce your "certificate for marriage" or “schedule” This piece of paper is gold dust because it is a crucial legal document: no document = no marriage; no schedule = no civil partnership
When you are giving your notice to marry, the date and venue of your independent ceremony are not relevant to the registration service: they need to know which registration office, date and time you are planning your legal marriage/civil partnership.
When you arrive at your appointment you will be seen separately and, as well as producing the required documents, you will each be expected to know how long you have been together, how long you have lived at your current address, and each other's occupation, full name & date of birth.
Giving notice will cost you £35 each.
6. Attend the right office (!) for your legal marriage
In your legal marriage ceremony you are required to: confirm your full names. Make a declaration that you are legally free to marry. Say the contracting words that you each take the other to be your lawful wedded spouse. This does have to happen within a ceremony with two witnesses.
Civil partnerships: you are not obligated to have a ceremony and there are no mandatory words. You may go the the Registration office to sign your documents and you will need two people to witness that.
You can, but you are not obliged to, exchange rings or vows - just tell the registrar if you do not wish to do that and they will be really nice about it.
You are legally married or legally civil partners!
7. And now, have an amazing independent, personal wedding ceremony at your chosen place, date and time
You will be united in love, witnessed by all the people who are important to you.
8. Love each other forever.....