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.
Update - 29 March 2021
Reopening our office
The latest government advice means we can open our office for ceremonies from Monday 29 March 2021 in line with the latest guidance.
Currently these ceremonies only allow a maximum of six people, including the couple and the two witnesses, across all our venues in Tower Hamlets. Register Office ceremonies will continue to be the couple and two witnesses only.
Given these restrictions, if people would like to reschedule an existing ceremony to a later date, we are offering this for free until 21 June 2021.
Cancellations will be guided by our existing terms and conditions. New ceremonies booked after 29 March 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.
Thank you once more for your patience as our focus has been to help the bereaved with death registrations in the winter peak and to encourage our customers to do their part by staying home and protecting the NHS.
If you have any urgent questions, please feel free to email us. There may be a delay in responding due to increased demand.
We look forward to celebrating with you soon.
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 for a 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 date marriages 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
A list 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 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 basic 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.
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.
Please email us for availability once you have some dates with the venue in mind.
If you are interested in booking a ceremony within Tower Hamlets, please email our ceremonies team.
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
| Monday|| Tuesday|| Thursday|| Friday|| Saturday|
* 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-Friday|| Saturday-Sunday|
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.
Pay remaining balance