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Ceremonies in East Sussex

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not on the list, please contact us;

0345 60 80 198

Can we reserve a date a time for our ceremony?

We are unable to reserve any ceremony bookings. To secure a date you must call our ceremonies team on 0345 60 80 198. Ceremony fees are payable in full at the time of booking. Bookings will only be confirmed once full payment has been made.  

See Plan your Ceremony for further information.

Can we personalise the ceremony?

Yes you can. We encourage you to personalise your ceremony to ensure you have your ceremony exactly how you want it. We are always happy to discuss your ideas and offer any advice.

Take a look at the ways you can personalise your ceremony.

Can we have our ceremony outside?

We have been conducting outdoor ceremonies for years. A number of our licensed venues have outside spaces that have been licensed for marriages and civil partnerships where your ceremony can take place.

However if your chosen outside venue or location isn’t licensed i.e the beach, the woods etc take a look at Outdoor Ceremonies for further information.

Where can our ceremony take place?

Your ceremony venue or location is a very important decision, and as long as it is deemed safe and suitable then we will conduct your ceremony anywhere in East Sussex. 

If your chosen venue or location has not been licensed for marriages or civil partnerships then one of our Ceremonies Managers will complete a simple risk assessment prior to your ceremony.

Please note that any ceremony that takes place in an unlicensed venue or location is not a legal ceremony. A legal ceremony may be needed in addition. 

Please see Weddings with a difference for further information.

What time can we have our ceremony?

We can conduct ceremonies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (subject to availability). Surcharges are payable for certain dates and times. See our fees for payable surcharges.

What is Giving Notice?

Giving Notice is a legal requirement that anyone wishing to marry or enter into a civil partnership must complete prior to their ceremony. You must both attend an appointment at a Register Office and provide certain identification documents.  

There is a statutory fee to Give Notice.

Once notice has been given a statutory waiting period must pass before you can legally marry or register a civil partnership.

See Giving Notice for further information.

We have Given Notice, what happens now?


Once you have Given Notice a statutory waiting period of 28 clear days must pass before you are able to marry or enter into a civil partnership (this waiting period could be extended to 70 days if you/and or your partner are subject to immigration control)

During this period your notice details are displayed at a register office in the district where you Give Notice allowing members of the public to issue any legal objections they may have to the ceremony.

Once the statutory waiting period has passed and if no legal objections have been received then you are free to marry or register your civil partnership at the specified venue in the next 12 months. 


What happens if we need to cancel our ceremony?

In the event that you need to cancel your ceremony you will be required to notify us in writing, you can send this to

The following cancellation procedures apply:

  • Cancellation more than twelve weeks before the ceremony – a full refund of ceremony fees, once the £100 non-refundable booking fee has been deducted.
  • Cancellation between six and twelve weeks before the ceremony – a refund of 50% of the ceremony fees paid, once the £100 non-refundable booking fee has been deducted.
  • Cancellation less than six weeks before the ceremony, or failure to notify us of the cancellation in writing, you remain liable for 100% of the balance of the ceremony fees, and no refund will be made.

If you need to amend your ceremony in anyway then an amendment fee of £50 will be payable on each occasion that you change the details of your booking. This includes changing the time, date or venue.

You can view our full Terms & Conditions online. 

Who can be our witnesses? What do they need to do? Can the Register Office provide them?

The law requires you have two witnesses present at your ceremony. Your witnesses should be at least 16, understand English and understand the ceremony.

Your witnesses do not need to know you personally. Their role on the day is to witness you both say your vows or sign the schedule.

Witnesses do not need to provide any ID.

You will need to ensure you have two witnesses prior to your ceremony, the registration service are unable to supply witnesses.

What happens on the day of the ceremony?


Prior to your ceremony you are both required to meet with the Registrars for a pre-ceremony interview. The purpose of these interviews is to ensure that your personal details are correct. These interviews are brief and will be held at your ceremony venue directly before your ceremony.

You can meet with the Registrars together or separately, depending on whether you want to see each other before the ceremony.

Take a look at On The Day for more information about what happens on the day of your ceremony.


Will we receive any information about the ceremony?

Once you have Given Notice you will receive a ceremony pack, which will explain everything you need to know about the ceremony, what happens on the day, what you will be required to say and how you can personalise the ceremony.

You can also find plenty of information on the pages of our website.

What time do we need to arrive?

It is extremely important that the ceremony starts on time.

For ceremonies taking place at a Register Office, and where you are being interviewed separately; we advise party one to be ready to be ready to meet with the Registrar 20 minutes before the ceremony and party two around 10 minutes before the ceremony start time. If you are being interviewed together then you need to be ready to be seen 15 minutes before the ceremony start time.

For ceremonies taking place at a Licensed Venue, and where you are being interviewed separately; We ask party one to be ready to be ready 30 minutes before the ceremony start time and party two 15 minutes before the ceremony start time.

If you are being interviewed together then please be ready to be seen 20 minutes before your ceremony start time.

Please ensure that you, your partner and your guests all arrive in plenty of time prior to the scheduled start time of the ceremony.

In the event that the ceremony commences later than the scheduled start time then East Sussex Registration reserves the right to amend or cancel the ceremony. Please see our Terms and Conditions.

We don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, is this ok?

As is traditional, most couples choose not to see each other before the ceremony and this is absolutely fine. Procedures will be put in place to make sure that you do not see each other before the ceremony begins.

In these circumstances you will be seen separately by the Registrar before the ceremony.

How long does the ceremony last?

 A ceremony last approximately 30 minutes. This allows enough time for the signing of the register/schedule and photographs.

What if the number of our guests changes?

Each Register Office ceremony room and licensed venue has a maximum capacity which has been set for fire regulations. If your guest numbers exceeds this then some of your guests may have to wait outside.

Alternatively you may be able to transfer your ceremony to a larger room if there is one available. To enquire about a larger ceremony room contact your chosen venue. To enquire about a Register Office ceremony contact us on 0345 60 80 198.

Any amendments to your ceremony booking may incur additional charges.

Can we write our own vows?

We invite you to personalise your ceremony. Writing your own vows can be the perfect way to enhance your ceremony You will say these in addition to any legal vows. 

Take a look at how you can personalise your ceremony.

Can we have animals at our ceremony?

We do not permit animals at any ceremony that takes place at an East Sussex Register Office, except registered assistance animals.

If your ceremony is taking place at a venue other than a Register Office then you will need to check whether animals are permitted.The venue is entirely responsible for the health and safety of the guests and any housekeeping issues which may arise as a result.

If you are having any animal attend your ceremony then you must make Ceremonies in East Sussex aware prior to the ceremony.

Do we have to exchange rings?

The exchanging of rings is an ancient tradition that couples still follow. Although most couples do exchange rings it is not a legal requirement and is a personal choice. Instead you may choose to exchange one ring, or maybe a gift instead, the choice is yours.


Do I have to change my name?

Your name, your choice! There is no obligation to change your name after marriage or civil partnership. You can decide whether to change your name and what you change it to.

Find out more about Changing Your Name.

Can we use our own celebrant, friend or family member to conduct our ceremony?

For a civil marriage or civil partnership ceremony to be legal it must be conducted by an authorised Registrar. However you may like to include them by asking them to do a reading during the ceremony.

Although there are legal restrictions to a legal civil ceremony, if you would like to include religious content or hold your ceremony in a unlicensed space then we can provide you with a celebration ceremony to incorporate your wishes following a legal ceremony. Taking care of both the legalities and the celebration ceremony.Ensuring that you are legally married/formed a civil partnership and that you also have the ceremony you want. 

See Weddings with a difference for more information.

We want to get married abroad, what do we need to do?



If you’re getting married or registering a civil partnership abroad, you may need to obtain certain documents prior to the ceremony. You will need to contact the local authorities where you want to get married to find out what you need to do.

You will find more information here: ‘Getting married abroad’.

Is there disabled access at the Register Offices?

 All four of our Register Offices have at least one accessible ceremony room.

If you or your guests have any accessibility issues please let us know as soon as possible 0345 60 80 198.

We don't live in East Sussex, can we hold our ceremony here?

You can get married or form a civil partnership at any licensed venue or Register Office in England and Wales regardless of where you live.

We would love you to choose East Sussex as your ceremony destination.

A residency requirement must be met along with completion of certain legal preliminaries prior to any marriage or civil partnership ceremony that takes place in England and Wales.

See Giving Notice for further information.

Me and/or my partner are not British, what do we need to do to be married/form a civil partnership?

To be married or form a civil partnership in England and Wales you must first Give Notice. This is usually done at your local Register Office, however, if you and/or your partner is a foreign national from outside the EEA or Switzerland then you must give notice at a Designated Register Office (this may or may not be your local Register Office)

For further information please see

We are an opposite-sex couple, can we enter into a Civil Partnership?

Regulations to extend civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples have now been approved by Parliament and were made on 5th November 2019. These regulations will come into force on 2nd December 2019.

Opposite-sex civil partnership ceremonies will be able to take place from 31st December 2019.

Before you are able to form a civil partnership you must both Give Notice at least 28 days before your ceremony date. 

For further information see Civil Partnerships.

How many certificates do we need?

Marriage and Civil Partnership certificates cost £11 each. You may have as many as you want. The ceremony fees include two statutory certificates. However if you do not require two or would like to order more then call us on 0345 60 80 198.

Do our children need re-registering?

Any child whose natural parents have married since they were born will need their birth re-registering This is a legal requirement that will make them a child of your marriage.

Re-registration is done by completing a form (LA1). The form will explain the documents required and process to re-register.

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