Covid-19 (Coronavirus) update

Our services are running at a reduced capacity. Please check our individual pages for updates on what services are running and any restrictions that are in place.

Our terms and conditions have also been updated to show the changes we have in place to keep our building, customers and colleagues safe.

Face coverings must be worn at the Register Office unless you are medically exempt.

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Getting married guide

Getting married can seem daunting at the best of times, but especially now where we are still under the effects of a global pandemic.

Please ensure you check this page regularly for updates. We contact all couples who have booked a ceremony with us when major changes to guidance has affected their ceremony.

See also:

Update - 15 June 2021

From 21 June 2021 the latest government advice means there is no numerical limit on the number of people for all our ceremonies. However, there is a need to maintain social distancing at all times, which may limit the number of people who are able to attend a venue.

In The Vestry, we cannot hold more than 18 people, including the couple, their witnesses and their guests. For other external venues, please check with the ceremony organiser on their agreed risk assessment and refer them to our office if they have any queries. Register Office ceremonies will continue to be the couple and two witnesses only.

For those who have paid for more enhanced ceremonies (Friday-Sunday in the Vestry and all venue ceremonies), you may now have pre-recorded music, aisle walking and readings with face-coverings. Please note however, there is no aisle in the Vestry to allow social distancing and a larger number of guests.

Please also note the changes to Civil Marriage and the changes to giving notice from 1 July 2021.

Cancellations will be guided by our existing terms and conditions. You are able to reschedule a ceremony to after the 19 July 2021, free of charge, if the government restrictions mean you cannot have the number of guests as originally planned. Ceremonies booked after 15 June 2021 will be subject to our standard terms and conditions for any reschedules and cancellations.

If you would like to continue with your ceremony to get legally married but are sad to be missing out on a larger celebration, we also offer renewal of vow ceremonies you can hold later this year or in 2022 to commemorate your relationship with more people.

With each major government update, we will be updating our website to highlight any changes that may affect your ceremony.

We are excited to be able to hold our ceremonies again and look forward to celebrating your special day with you.

The process

There are things you need to know and do when wishing to get married or form a civil partnership.

Decide on a venue

One of the most important aspects of day, the venue must be decided before giving notice.

The notice is only valid for one venue for one year. If you are marrying in Tower Hamlets, we can book your ceremony or registrars in your notice appointment.

If you are getting married in another area, you will need to discuss availability with that local authority first.

Give notice of intention

More information can be found on our notice of intention page.

Book your venue

If you are getting married in Tower Hamlets, we can book your ceremony or registrars in your notice appointment if you are giving notice with us.

Please email us to discuss options once you have read the information on this page.

Attend your ceremony

Follow all the instructions in your confirmation emails to ensure you attend your ceremony on time and with the correct documentation and people.

Failure to arrive on time will result in your ceremony being postponed and may be subject to a fee.

Marriages and Civil Partnerships: what is the difference?

Marriages and Civil Partnerships provide couples with broadly similar rights. Please check the government guidance fora full comparison.

The major difference is a marriage ceremony is a verbal contract given in a ceremony. A civil partnership is a signed contract and a ceremony is optional.

If you chose to have a civil partnership in our Register Office, our most basic offering, then the couple will only be able to sign the schedule with their witnesses- there would be no ceremony.

If you chose to have a marriage in our Register Office, our most basic offering, then you will have the most basic ceremony which asks you to say the minimum words necessary to form a marriage.

Changes to Civil Marriage from 4 May 2021

As you may have heard, the government has implemented changes in law to allow mother’s details to be entered onto a marriage certificate. This will take effect from the 4 May 2021.

From this datemarriages will not be recorded in a paper register, but an electronic one. This means you will not receive a handwritten certificate on the day of your ceremony and we will only be able to issue an electronic certificate once we have entered the marriage onto our system- much like Civil Partnerships.

Marriages will not be considered ‘registered’ until they are placed onto the national electronic register after the ceremony has taken place. This means that ceremonies that take place on weekends may not have the marriage registered until the Monday. Certificates can only be issued and sent via 2nd class post (special delivery optional at an additional fee) once the ceremony has been registered. We are not authorised to issue commemorative certificates of marriage or supply anything in writing at the time of the ceremony to confirm the marriage has taken place.

In moving to an electronic register, we will still be checking information about you before the ceremony, but you will instead have a chance to note any changes in ink and add up to 4 parents- this will include any step-parents. We will be asking questions on the day so you will not need to give this information in advance. Another change is that your ages will no longer appear on your marriage certificate, but your dates of birth.

All other aspects of a marriage ceremony are the same- declaratory and contracting words are to be said by the couple in the presence of 2 witnesses and a Registrar and Superintendent Registrar (or their deputies).

You do not need to do anything else such as giving notice again- your paperwork will automatically be converted.

Further information can be found in the leaflets issue by the Home Office below:

Ceremonies in Tower Hamlets

Alist of all our ceremony fees can be found on our fees page. Coronavirus restrictions mean we may not be able to hold our ceremonies in the usual way.

The Register Office

These are the most basic ceremonies and have extremely limited availability.

If you chose to have a civil partnership in our Register Office, then you will only be signing the schedule with your witnesses - there would be no ceremony.

If you chose to have a marriage in our Register Office, then you will have the most basic ceremony that will ask you to say the minimum words necessary to form a marriage.

The Vestry - Until 31 August 2021

The Vestry is our main ceremony room where we hold the majority of our ceremonies.

It is an historic space, once home to the East London suffrage movement, and has seen thousands of people cement their love for each other. We hold simple ceremonies Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

These ceremonies do not allow for any walk-ins, change of outfits or readings but will still provide a perfect backdrop for a simple celebration.

We hold larger ceremonies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the Vestry. These ceremonies allow for custom music, readings, entrances and other embellishments such as time for the couple to change.

These will need to be discussed with us beforehand to ensure we can accommodate your request.

The Vestry can also be opened to allow more people should you require it. There is a fee for this.

For more information, please email ceremonies@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

St Georges Town Hall - From 1 September 2021

St Georges Town Hall is a recently renovated building located in the heart of Shadwell. We have two ceremony rooms allowing you to have your ceremony in the space that is right for you. We also have access to a large garden at the rear with historic architecture providing the perfect backdrop for your wedding photos.

Our larger room, The Tower Suite, is an old hall able to seat up to 120 guests and is perfect for those who wish to celebrate in grand style. The Tower Suite has a seperate exit staircase but also holds opportunities for photography on the grand sweeping staircase which leads you to our gardens. The Tower Suite also has access to a dressing room for those who are electing to have an enhanced ceremony with us.

Our smaller room, The Hamlet Suite, is located just off the main grand staircase and with a capacity of 20 guests, it is perfect for those who wish to have a more intimate ceremony. 

Approved venues

Tower Hamlets has many beautiful, modern, sophisticated and varied venues for you to celebrate in, covering a wide range of budgets.

Please see our list of all our approved venues. Please contact the venues individually to discuss getting married with them.

You will also need to contact us separately to organise the attendance of registrars at your ceremony.

Once you have some dates with the venue in mind, or if you are interested in booking a ceremony within Tower Hamlets, please contact our ceremonies team

Email: ceremonies@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

Ceremony Types

As mentioned above, we have 3 main types of ceremony in Tower Hamlets and information on these can be found below.

Ceremony Types
All subject to COVID restrictions Register Office Simple Ceremony Enhanced Ceremony
 Where Specified Room 

Tower Suite

Hamlet Suite

The Vestry (Monday-Thursday)

Tower Suite

Hamlet Suite

The Vestry (Friday - Sunday)

External Venues

 General Availability  Twice a week

Most Days

(St Georges Town Hall)

 Every Day
 Price  See fees page  See fees page  See fees page
 Number of Guests  2 witnesses only

Tower Suite - 40

Hamlet Suite - 10

Tower Suite - 120

Hamlet Suite - 20

External Venues - various limits

 Script  Legal words only  Simple  Enhanced
 Ring/Token Exchange  Yes  Yes  Yes
Length (maximum times given)

15 minutes pre-ceremony

10 minute ceremony

15 minutes pre-ceremony

20 minute ceremony

15-20 minutes pre-ceremony

30 minute ceremony

 Music  No  Yes (from set list)  Yes
 Readings No No Yes
 Personal Vows No No Yes
 Seperate Pre-Ceremony Questioning No No Yes
 Grand Entrance No No Yes
Access to Dressing Room No No

Yes

(St Georges Town Hall)

Available Ceremony Times

Due to staffing limitations we are only able to offer specific slots for our ceremonies. This is to ensure we can attend as many ceremonies as possible. We are unable to offer times other than those offered below which are also subject to availability.

Ceremony times for the Vestry
MondayTuesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
- 10:00 10:00 10:00 09:30
10:45 10:45 10:45 10:45 10:15
11:30 11:30 11:30 11:30 11:00
14:00 14:00 14:00 14:00 13:00*
14:45 14:45 14:45 14:45 14:00*
15:30 15:30 15:30 15:30 15:00*

* Saturday afternoons in the Vestry are only available if there are no weddings booked at external venues and can only be offered in the order above.

Ceremony times for external venues
Monday-FridaySaturday-Sunday
11:00 11:00
14:00 13:00
16:00 15:00
18:00 17:00
- 19:00

 

Pay the remaining balance

If you have already made a provisional booking and need to pay an outstanding balance, you can still do this online.

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