Planning your wedding

In England and Wales there are certain conditions that must be met for a couple to marry such as:-

Are you both over the age of 18?

If not then you may still be able to marry if you are aged between 16 and 17 when the marriage is contracted. In this case parental consent is required.  For further information you need to speak to our team for advice prior to booking.

Are you both British Citizens?

If not but you are both citizens of the European Economic Area then you will be treated as British Citizens and will qualify to marry.
If one or neither of you are British or citizens of the European Economic Area then you will be subject to immigration control and will need specialist advice from our team prior to booking.

Are you legally free to marry?

In Cumbria we do not take ceremony bookings for those who are not legally free to marry.  For example where divorce proceedings are underway, but have not fully completed, or where appropriate visas may not yet be in place. 

If your divorce papers were issued outside of the British Isles there will be a fee for checking these documents.

If you are in doubt whether your own circumstances prevent you from booking please contact our team prior to booking.

Is there anything stopping you from marrying each other?

This is known as prohibited degrees of relationship.

You will be asked if you have ever been related to each other by blood, marriage, adoption, civil partnership or surrogacy.

If you answer yes to any of those, then please contact our team prior to booking as you may still be able to proceed.

Do you both live in England or Wales?

Even if you are British Citizens, the legal system in Scotland and N. Ireland is different and they are therefore considered as foreign countries for the purposes of Registration.  If you live outside England or Wales then you may be subject to residency requirements before you can marry here.  Please discuss this with our team prior to booking. 

After reading this, if you think you may not qualify to marry please contact us to discuss your options. They can be contacted as follows:-


Telephone: 0300 303 2472

We recommend using the Email as the telephone lines are very busy.

Firstly may we offer our congratulations!  We are delighted that you are considering Cumbria for your ceremony and can't wait to work with you to make your day special.

If you have not already seen our brochure "Say I Will, in Cumbria and The Lakes" we would highly recommend you do this.  It contains lots of valuable information as well as photographs and details of over 170 stunning venues throughout Cumbria.

Especially for those of you live outside the area we have also created a "find my nearest wedding venue" which will help identify which hotels are licenced to hold Civil Weddings in the area of your choice.  By clicking on the venue it will take you to their website.

Once you have a shortlist of venues it is best to visit them where possible to meet staff and ensure you are happy with everything.  It has to be just right for your special day and in Cumbria our venues strive for the highest standards of customer care.

When you've found the venue for your ceremony, there are a few important points we would like to make you aware of before you begin making your arrangements.

  • In England and Wales, for a marriage in a licensed venue you require a Superintendent Registrar and Registrar of Marriages to attend from the Registration Service in that district. Without our presence the marriage is not legal.

  • Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate your ceremony on the date and at the time you desire, we cannot guarantee you will get your first choice so please ask your venue for some alternate dates and times that suit you to hold the ceremony.  Please do not confirm the booking with the venue or pay any fees or deposits until we have confirmed our availability to attend.

  • It is your responsibility to book the services of the Registration staff and venue separately.  The earlier you book the better and in Cumbria we will take bookings for up to 24 months in advance.

  • It's important to note that weddings can only be held in a venue with a valid license at the time of the ceremony.  It is your responsibility to check this with the venue.


In Cumbria we take bookings all year round with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Certain times of the year will be busier than others but we will always do our best to accommodate you.

Please give consideration to the location of your ceremony and the British weather when making your choice.  Some of our venues may be harder than others to access in certain weather conditions. 

(Please note our weather policy which is within the terms and conditions)


In Cumbria we can offer ceremonies from 8am to 6pm. 

This means the latest ceremony will start at 5pm to ensure it's finished by 6pm. 

There are peak times within the day that will be booked up quickly, so the sooner you book the better.

Legal Timeframe

Whilst we take provisional bookings for up to 2 years in advance in Cumbria, your booking only becomes confirmed once you have completed your legal paperwork.

This legal paperwork is covered in another section, but is known as your Notice Of Intent to Marry.  This notice can only be given within 12 months of your planned ceremony date as it is only valid for 12 months.  We recommend you give notice around 3 months prior to the booked date so that if you have any unforeseen reason to change this, the paperwork has some flexibility. 

When giving notice you are announcing your intent to marry and by law, the public have a right to object.  Any objection must be based on law (such as you're still married or under age) rather than any personal reasons.

There is a period after your giving notice, before the legal authorities for marriage can be produced to allow for such objections.  If both parties are British or citizens of the European Economic Area then this is 28 days with the paperwork authorised on the 29th day. This can take longer if there are any foreign papers to consider such as a divorce.

If either party is subject to immigration control this period of notice can be extended by the Home Office for up to 70 days and we cannot proceed with the ceremony until we have received their clearance.

If you require an urgent ceremony on health or other grounds you can find more information on the Emergency Ceremonies page or contact our team of expert Registration Officers for guidance and support at

We recommend using the Email as the telephone lines are very busy.

Ok so you're getting there - you know you're free to marry and you've established where you want the ceremony to take place and have some dates and times in mind.

The next step is to establish how much it will cost before making the booking.

Deposit or Booking Fee

Every wedding we book is charged a deposit, except for statutory or church ceremonies where a booking fee is charged. 

This must be paid at the time of booking to secure the slot.

It is non-transferrable and non-refundable

Amendment Fee

If you alter the date time or venue of your ceremony this will incur a fee for the work involved.  This fee is non-transferrable and non-refundable

Legal Paperwork

If you both live within England or Wales you will have to attend an office to give your notices of intent.  This is covered below.  This is a statutory fee

Ceremony Fee

There is a fee for Cumbria Registration Service managing and attending your ceremony and this must be paid at least 12 weeks before your ceremony date.

Failure to do so may result in a late payment fee.

Legal Certificate Fees

You can obtain as many legal certificates as you like.  Often people like to keep one that they never send away and then a few to send off to people after the event to update records.  This is also a statutory fee per certificate. These are ordered and paid for after your ceremony online.  

In addition to your legal certificates, you can purchase commemorative ones too, which will be presented at your ceremony. These can be ordered when you pay your ceremony fees.  These are a lovely keepsake for you as well as parents or grandparents.  Please note these are not legal certificates and cannot be used for any official purpose.


Should you require to cancel your ceremony, our refund policy on your ceremony fee is as follows:

Cancelled more than 6 weeks ahead of the date - Full refund given less £100 deposit  ( £45 booking fee for Church and Statutory ceremonies)

Less than 6 weeks ahead of the ceremony date - No refund given

Our fees are regularly reviewed and updated.  Cumbria Registrations Service Fees and Charges.

Fabulous!  We couldn't be happier that you've decided to book your wedding in Cumbria.

To make a booking:


Call: 0300 303 2472.

Face to face

We have 6 offices around the county with varying opening hours
These offices are run on an appointment basis
You could have a lengthy wait until they have a gap in their diary and may not be seen.

Agree and Book

Once you have chatted through all your details and requirements our officers will book your ceremony and send you a provisional confirmation

We recommend that you provide an email address as this means we have the fastest and simplest way of communicating with you throughout your arrangements.  We don't share your details with anyone and it's only used for your ceremony.  For further information please see our privacy statement.

The provisional letter will set out all the details for your day and confirm the next steps with a few terms and conditions of booking.

Pay deposit or booking Fee

At the point of booking the deposit or booking fee be paid. This can be paid by card over the telephone using a debit or credit card in your name.

If you don't have a card or someone else is making the payment, we are happy to take a card payment from a friend or family member however you would need to call together so you could confirm your details etc. and then we need to speak with the card holder to take the payment.

This charge is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Once the payment has been taken we will send you a receipt for the service by email and also our card system will send you a receipt for the transaction.

Confirmed Booking

Once you have given your notice of intent to marry your booking moves from provisional to confirmed. 

A few days after we've received your notices we will send you an email to say your booking is now confirmed and outline your next steps and this is where the fun begins.  

You will be sent a planner to begin building up your big day from who will be your witnesses to what music you want during the ceremony. 

12 weeks before your ceremony date we also need to collect full payment for your ceremony plus any non-legal commemorative certificates (presented on your ceremony day),that you would like to purchase. Please order and pay for legal marriage certificates after the ceremony online.  

You may have questions as you go along but rest assured we'll be there to support you.  We would ask that you read the final drop down box with lots of important information, but after that you've now completed the booking process.

Good luck with all your plans and we look forward to being involved in your big day!

Photography at Weddings

Please note that all photography and video recording, professional or otherwise, is by permission of the presiding Superintendent Registrar.


Allowed during the ceremony:

  • photograph as the couple and groom enter
  • photograph of the exchange of ring(s)
  • photograph of the first kiss

Flash guns may be used only with the permission of the presiding Superintendent Registrar, and must be agreed prior to the ceremony.

Photographers are welcome to take photographs before and after the formal ceremony.  

You can request that the Registrar makes an announcement at the beginning of your ceremony to ask your guests not to post photographs on social media. (Please add special requirements to your planner).

The ceremony should not be delayed as a result of photographs being taken.

Video recording

Video recording is at the discretion of the couple, but the following applies throughout the formal ceremony:

  • only one video camera to be used
  • the recordist should remain stationary.

It is the responsibility of the couple to advise their chosen photographer of the above guidance.  Cameras must be battery operated to avoid trailing cables, which are a potential health and safety risk to the couple, their guests and employees of Cumbria County Council.

Paying for your Ceremony

All fees are required to be paid no later than 12 weeks prior to the date of the ceremony. Please pay by credit / debit card. 

Cumbria Registration Service Fees and Charges

A non-refundable deposit or booking fee is charged when you book your ceremony.

All fees are regularly reviewed, and can be confirmed at time of booking with the Registrar. 

If you make any change to your booking there is an amendment fee. It is your responsibility to check that the venue will have a valid marriage licence at the time of your marriage.

Refund of ceremony fees

Our refund policy on cancelled bookings made after 11 April 2021 is as follows:

Cancelled more than 6 weeks ahead of the date - Full refund given less £100 deposit  ( £45 booking fee for Church and Statutory ceremonies)

Less than 6 weeks ahead of the ceremony date - No refund given

For the purpose of refunds, the cancellation date is deemed to be when written confirmation is received by the registrar.

Weather Policy

Please note that we cannot guarantee to reach your venue during periods of extreme weather. 

We will however endeavour to attend as soon as it is safe to do so and regret we will not accept liability for any loss in such instances.  We would be obliged if you could take this into account when choosing the venue and date for your ceremony.

Animals at Wedding Ceremonies

We want you to have a wonderful ceremony with your celebration being personal to you and have your own style.

We are required by law to ensure that certain standards are upheld, however we do our best to work with you to ensure that you set the tone you want for your day and make it memorable.

We would not recommend the inclusion of any animal or bird in a ceremony or recommend the use of any particular professional service in this regard.

No animals or birds can be used in any ceremony held in a Register Office, Registration Office or Cumbria County Council premise.

  • We have regular ceremonies throughout any day and the next clients may be affected by allergies even after the pets have been left the room.
  • If a pet were to have an unfortunate toilet accident (even the best trained can do this in an unusual environment), whilst clients would pay to have the carpets cleaned this would not be possible prior to the arrival of the next party.

The use of any animal or birds at any ceremony in a licensed venue is at the discretion of the Owner/Manager of the premises.

  • Details of the animals or birds proposed and what part they intend to play in the ceremony must be advised to the prior to the ceremony.  

There will be no delay to any ceremony due to the behaviour of any animal or bird during a ceremony.

  • We strongly recommend you think carefully regarding your decision as the inclusion of any animal or bird in your ceremony as it may lead so a certain element of confusion.
  • Any disruption or confusion cannot lead to any delay in proceedings.  This includes if the ring disappears into the rafters!! We would proceed as planned without the exchange of rings.
  • We would remind you to be aware of animal welfare issues and satisfy yourself that the animal is not stressed in any way during the proceedings.  Our staff reserve the right to report any concerns they may have to the appropriate Animal Welfare organisation.

Getting Married outside

Outside ceremonies are very popular in Cumbria but you should be aware of the following if you are considering getting married outdoors:

Any outdoor structure may only be used if it is deemed acceptable by the registration staff on the day of the ceremony, taking into account staff health and safety as well as the protection of the legal documents.  As the weather is very changeable in Cumbria, provision should always be made for an indoor alternative room to be used at short notice.  The registrar will make the decision on the day if the ceremony can take place outside.

Cumbria Registration Service can afford no guarantee that an outdoor ceremony will be granted.