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Ceremonies in East Sussex


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

0345 60 80 198

How soon can we get married / register a civil partnership?

For most marriages or civil partnerships, you must give at least 28 full days’ notice before you are able to be married or register a civil partnership.

This could be extended to 70 days if you and/or your partner are nationals of a country outside the EEA (European Economic Area).

Notices are given at your local register office, more information can be found on our how to guide.

In exceptional circumstances, this waiting period may be reduced. Please see ‘urgent weddings’ for further information.

What is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?

A marriage in England and Wales can be between same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Marriages can be civil or religious (although most religions don’t offer same-sex marriages). At our Register Offices and our licenced venues, we perform only civil marriages which means no religious content can be incorporated. Marriage is a verbal contract, meaning you must say prescribed words to be legally married.

A civil partnership in England and Wales is only currently available to same-sex couples. This was the only option for same-sex couples before the law changed to allow same-sex marriages, and same-sex couples can still choose to have a civil partnership if they prefer. Again, no religious content can be included. A civil partnership can be converted into a marriage at a later date if the couple chooses to do so.

The legal preliminaries to marriage and civil partnership (giving notice) have the same waiting times and documents required.

For further information please see:

How much does a ceremony cost?

Ceremony prices vary depending on where and when you have your ceremony. Ceremony fees must be paid in full at the time of booking, and include a £100 non-refundable booking fee. Your booking will be charged at the rate applicable at the time of booking, regardless of when your ceremony will take place. Bookings can be made up to three years from the date of booking. Fees are subject to change on the 1st April each year.

Please take a look at our fees here

Can we reserve our booking?

Unfortunately, we cannot reserve a booking. To secure a booking full ceremony fees will need to be paid. Please see our How to Book page for further information.

Can we personalise the ceremony?

Yes you can. We encourage you to personalise your ceremony so it is exactly how you want it. We are always happy to discuss your ideas and can help ensure you have the ceremony you want.

For ideas about how you can personalise your ceremony please see ‘Enhance your ceremony’ or call us 0345 60 80 198

Can we have our ceremony outside?

Yes you can. A number of our licenced venues have licenced outside spaces where your ceremony can take place. If however the outside area you have in mind isn’t licenced i.e the beach, the woods etc take a look at 'Outdoor Ceremonies'.

Where can our ceremony take place?

No matter what the reason for your ceremony, we want you to be able to have it exactly where you want it. So as long as the location is deemed safe and suitable then we will conduct your ceremony wherever you wish. Please see our ‘Weddings with a difference’ page for further information.

What time can we have our ceremony?

We can conduct ceremonies 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The time booked for the ceremony is the time the ceremony must commence. Surcharges are incurred for certain dates and times.

What is giving notice? and how do we give our notice?

Giving notice is a legal requirement that must be completed prior to getting married or registering a civil partnership. It is an appointment that you and your partner are both required to attend at your local register office with certain documents proving:

  • Your name
  • Age
  • Address
  • Nationality
  • Freedom to marry

There is a statutory fee of £35 per person.

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

More information can be found here.

We have given our notice, what happens now?

Once you have given your notice, the information will be displayed publically at the register office. This is displayed so that if anyone has a legal objection they can inform the registrar. They are displayed for a statutory period of 28 days (possibly extended to 70 if you and/or your partner are subject to immigration) once this time has passed your details will no longer be made public and your authorities to be married will be printed, by the district in which your ceremony is taking place. You do not need to do anything on this day, this will all be dealt with by the relevant registrar.

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. 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.

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

The law requires you to have two witnesses present at your ceremony. Your witnesses should be 16 years or older, understand English and be of sound mind. Your witnesses do not need to know you personally. Their role on the day is to witness you say your vows. They do not need to provide any ID on the ceremony day. The Register Office are unable to provide you with witnesses, you will need to ensure you have two witnesses prior to your ceremony.

What happens on the ceremony day? Do we need to bring anything?

It is our duty to verify the information to be entered into the legal record of marriage or civil partnership at the time of the ceremony. Both parties are required to be interviewed immediately before your ceremony. This interview can be done together or separately, depending on your preference. This should take around 5-10 minutes and you do not need to bring anything with you.*

*If you have changed your name since you gave notice of marriage, we will need to see documentation in support of that name change.

Will we receive any information about the ceremony?

Once you have given notice you will receive a Ceremonies in East Sussex 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.

What time do we need to arrive?

It is extremely important that the ceremony starts on 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.

For ceremonies taking place at a Register Office, and where you are being interviewed separately; we advise party one to be ready to be interviewed around 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 Licenced Venue, and where you are being interviewed separately; We ask party one to be ready to be interviewed 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.

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?

Most couples opt 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.

What happens if we are running late?

It is extremely important that your ceremony starts at the scheduled start time. 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

How long does the ceremony last?

A ceremony usually lasts around 20 – 30 minutes.

What if our number of guests changes?

For fire safety and comfort, if the number of guests exceeds the capacity of the room which is stipulated in the venue's licence, some guests may need to be excluded from the ceremony or there may be an option to move to a bigger room. If the number of your guests change please contact your venue to confirm room capacity. If you transfer to a bigger room there may be further charges.

Can we write our own vows?

Yes, you can. Writing your own vows is a personal choice and if you would like to add them to your ceremony then please do. You will say these in addition to the vows prescribed by law.

Please note there cannot be any religious content or connection.

Can we have animals at our ceremony?

East Sussex Registration does not permit animals or wildlife at ceremonies within the Register Offices, except for registered assistance dogs.

If you are having your ceremony at a venue other than a Register Office then you will need to check whether you are able to have animals with the venue. The venue is entirely responsible for the health and safety of the guests and any housekeeping issues which may arise as a result. East Sussex Registration must be informed in advance if any animal will be attending the ceremony.

Do we have to exchange rings?

The exchanging of rings is an ancient tradition that most couples still follow. It is meant to represent the vows you make, your love and commitment to each other. Although most couples do exchange rings this is not a legal requirement and is a personal choice. You may only exchange one ring, or maybe a gift instead, the choice is yours.

Do I have to change my name?

Your name, your choice! You can decide whether you want to change your name and what to change your name to.

What’s the difference between a Registrar and a Celebrant?

There are many debates about the difference between a Registrar and a Celebrant led ceremony and which is best.

You may have heard that the Registrars will dictate what you can and cannot have during your ceremony, or that it is cheaper to have a Celebrant. This isn’t always the case. Ceremonies in East Sussex do not dictate or tell anyone what they can and cannot have, as we want you to have your ceremony, your way. Of course, there are legal requirements that need to be met and completed but if you have your heart set on a ceremony that involves hymns, prayers, want to get married in the woods or in a field, want to say your own vows, maybe a midnight ceremony or a handfasting? Whatever your dream ceremony looks like we are here to help make it happen.

We can take care of both the legal ceremony and your celebration ceremony, whether this is on the same day, the day after, or a week after - it’s your choice. Our celebration ceremonies can be anywhere, anytime, anyplace and include anything for just £250, the only additional cost would be your legal ceremony. The fee for your legal ceremony would depend on when and where this took place.

Take a look at ‘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 might need certain documents from the UK. 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?

Eastbourne Town Hall
There are three ceremony rooms at Eastbourne Town Hall. Two of these are located on the first floor. There is a small lift. Users of the lift must be able to stand (with support) while in the lift, and will be required to leave their own wheelchair (where applicable) on the ground floor. We will make a manual wheelchair available (where required) for use on the first floor. In the event of an evacuation, staff are only able to assist one guest. Any additional guests requiring assistance must be mobile and it is the responsibility of the couple to ensure that they have nominated guests to assist them under such circumstances. The Court Room is located on the ground floor and is fully accessible.

Hastings Town Hall
Both ceremony rooms at Hastings Town Hall are located on the first floor. There is a small lift.

Hookstead, Crowborough
Crowborough Register Office is located at Hookstead, the ceremony room is located on the ground floor and fully accessible.

Southover Grange, Lewes
Both ceremony rooms are fully accessible.

Can we have a ceremony in East Sussex if we don’t live there?

You can get married or form a civil partnership at any licenced venue in England and Wales regardless of where you live. For most marriages or civil partnerships, you must give at least 28 full days’ notice before your ceremony can take place. You must give notice at your local register office, you can only give notice at a register office if you have lived in the registration district for at least the past 7 full days before giving notice. For further information please call us 0345 60 80 198

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

To be married or form a civil partnership in England and Wales you must give your notice of intention. 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

How many certificates should we get? And how much are they? When will we receive them?

Marriage and Civil Partnership certificates cost £11 per certificate. You may have as many or as you want or need. You will be presented with the handwritten certificates at your ceremony (up to two). If you have ordered more than two, you will receive the additional copies in the post. These will be printed copies and you should receive them around 5-7 working days after your ceremony.

Do we need to re-register our children? And why?

A child will need re-registering if their natural parents have since married. Re-registering your child/children creates a new birth record and legitimises them, ensuring they have the same legal rights as any child/children you may have after marriage.

Re-registration is done by completing a form (LA1) which you may be given at your notice appointment or on the day of your wedding. The form will explain the documents required to re-register. You can find the form here.

At some point after your wedding, you will need to book an appointment at the register office, there is no charge for re-registration but the usual fee will be charged for any certificates issued.

For re-registration of a child following the marriage of the child’s mother and the child’s female parent please contact the General Register Office 0300 123 1837

We don’t want anyone to know we are getting married/registering a civil partnership, will you notify anyone?

We do not notify anyone of your intention to marry or form a civil partnership; however, once you have given your notices they will be displayed publically at your local register office for a period of 28 full days. The law requires that notices are displayed, allowing anyone to view the information and report any legal objections they may have. The notice will not show when your ceremony will take place, but will show your full names, address, date of birth and the venue of where your ceremony will take place. Once the 28 days have passed your information will no longer be public.

Other than the statutory notice period we will not share any information about you or your ceremony booking with anyone else other than yourselves unless permission is given by you to do so.

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

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Death (Registration etc) Bill became an Act of Parliament on 26 March 2019, having obtained Royal Assent. This requires the Secretary of State to make regulations to extend civil partnership to opposite-sex couples by no later than 31st December 2019.

Since the Act was passed, our regulator the General Register Office (part of the Home Office), has begun consulting on the changes and working through the processes in order to be able to inform the Secretary of State how best to implement this legislative change by the end of the year.  

Once these processes have been agreed and laid into Parliament as a Statutory Instrument this will enable us to then be able to provide you with more information.

At the current time we have no further knowledge of what the process will be and are unable to take any bookings for opposite-sex civil partnerships.


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