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Changes to marriage

Changes to Marriage law from 4 may 2021Please check our latest Covid-19 advice page before visiting.

The Marriages, Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019

The Act will modernise how marriages are registered for the first time since 1837, through issue of a marriage schedule system and registration in an electronic register. It will move away from the current paper register creating a more secure system for keeping marriage records, that is also more efficient and far simpler to administer and amend, if necessary, in the future. The electronic register will also allow for the names of parents of the couple (mother / father / parent) to be included in the marriage entry and on marriage certificates, instead of only their fathers’ names as is currently the case.

This will be implemented from 4 May 2021.

Marriages and civil partnerships - Guidance on giving notice on GOV.UK

Changes to Marriage law - leaflet for customers Toggle accordion

Changes to Marriage law leaflet for customers (PDF, 1.7MB)

Changes to Marriage law from 4 May 2021

The changes in brief:

  • The Marriage Register will be replaced by a Marriage Document/Schedule
  • Marriage certificates will no longer be issued on the wedding day
  • All parents’ details can be included

The changes will be introduced in England and Wales from 4 May 2021, that affect how all marriages are registered.

Marriage will remain a verbal contract, formed when you say the legal words to each other in the presence of your witnesses and the Registrars/Religious Officiant.

At the end of the ceremony, you will no longer sign the Marriage Register. Instead, you will sign a Marriage Document or Schedule, which will be used to enter the information into an electronic register. Only after this, can a Marriage Certificate be issued to you.

The Marriage Schedule

The Marriage Schedule will contain the details of the couple getting married name; date of birth; marital status; occupation; and address; along with where and when the marriage takes place.

You will also be able to include your mother, father and/or parent’s details as well. This is recorded for family history purposes, and up until now only father’s details have been included.

The Schedule will be prepared by the Registrars in the district where you are marrying, and the information taken from the notice of your intention to marry. The Registrars will bring it with them to the marriage venue.

You, your witnesses and the Registrars will sign the Schedule at the end of the wedding ceremony.

After the ceremony the Registrar will record the information from the Schedule onto the electronic register.

The Marriage Certificate

The Marriage Certificate can only be issued after the information has been entered onto the electronic register. Therefore, a Marriage Certificate will not be issued to you on the day of your marriage but will be issued and sent to you via tracked delivery, within 7 working days of your wedding day.

The Registrar will email you to let you know the certificate(s) have been issued and dispatched. These can be sent to an address of your choice.

Getting married in a Church of England

For those couples getting married in a Church of England in Barking and Dagenham, the Minister at the church where your wedding will take place will provide a Marriage Document for you to sign at the end of the ceremony. This will contain the same information as the Marriage Schedule.

This Marriage Document will need to be delivered to us at The Register Office, to allow us to register the marriage and issue you with your Marriage Certificates. Please make arrangements with the Minister for delivery of the original Document to us for registration.

Certificates can then be ordered online (see below for details) and will be issued within 7 days of receiving the Marriage Document.

There may be some circumstances where those marrying in a Church of England are required to give notice of intention to marry, rather than having Banns called. Your Minister will be able to advise you of this. In these circumstances you will need to follow the process for getting married in another religious building.

Getting married in another religious building

For those couples getting married in a religious ceremony at a non-CoE church or other religious venue in Barking and Dagenham, you will need to make arrangements with us for the delivery of the Marriage Schedule to your Religious Officiant (unless Registrars are booked to attend the ceremony).

Following the marriage, the Schedule will need to be delivered to us at The Register Office, to allow us to register the marriage and issue you with your Marriage Certificates. Please make arrangements with your Religious Officiant for the Schedule to be returned to us for registration.

Certificates can then be ordered online (see details at the back of the leaflet) and will be issued within 7 days of receiving the Marriage Schedule.

Marriage registration process

Civil Marriage 

  1. Give notice - At your local Register Office
  2. Marriage Schedule - Issued by Registrars who will bring it with them to the ceremony
  3. Marriage Schedule - Signed and then retained by Registrars for electronic registration
  4. Certificates - These can be ordered at the time of booking your ceremony. They will be issued and sent out by The Register Office within 7 days of your ceremony

Religious Marriage (non CoE)

  1. Give notice - At your local Register Office.
  2. Marriage Schedule - Issued by Registrars. Couple need to arrange delivery to religious building.
  3. Marriage Schedule - Signed and then returned to The Register Office by Religious Officiant with 21 days for electronic registration.
  4. Certificates - You can order your Marriage Certificate online, once your Marriage Schedule is delivered to The Register Office. They will be issued and sent out by The Register Office within 7 days

Church of England Marriage

  1. Calling of Banns - At the church
  2. Marriage Document - Issued by Minister, who will bring it with them to the ceremony
  3. Marriage Document - Signed and then delivered to The Register Office by Minister within 21 days for electronic registration
  4. Certificates - You can order your Marriage Certificate online, once your Marriage Document is delivered to The Register Office. They will be issued and sent out by The Register Office within 7 days

Address for return of Marriage Schedule or document:

Woodlands House, Rainham Road North, Dagenham, RM10 7ER.

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm (on Wednesday, we open at 10.30am)

Certificate ordering online

Contact us - online enquiry form

What will change?

Ceremonies at Our Venues and Approved Marriage and Civil Partnership Venues

  • Couples will not be invited to sign a marriage register but will be invited to sign a marriage schedule which is an A4 document.
  • Couples will have the option to include up to 4x parents in the schedule and subsequently their marriage certificate i.e. Mother, Father, Step Mother and Stepfather.
  • Couples will not receive marriage certificates on the day of the marriage these will be processed in a specified timescale by the Registration Office in business hours for collecting/posting in line with  customer choice. 

Marriages in Religious Buildings (not Church of England)

  • From the date of implementation, if they have already collected their Certificates for Marriage (blue paperwork) couples will need to arrange to collect the marriage schedule for their ceremony to take place. The Registration Team will contact couples in date order to make arrangements for this.
  • On the day of the ceremony, couples will not be invited to sign a marriage register but will be invited to sign a marriage schedule which is an A4 document.
  • Couples will have the option to include up to 4 x parents in the schedule and subsequently their marriage certificate i.e. Mother, Father, Step Mother and Stepfather.
  • Couples will not receive marriage certificates on the day of the marriage.
  • If you marry in a religious ceremony, the relevant person from the religious building will return the completed, signed Marriage Schedule to the register office in the area where your marriage took place within 21 days of your marriage. Once the completed, signed Marriage Schedule is received at the register office the details will be entered onto the electronic marriage register within the following 7 days; only then will a marriage certificate be available.

Church of England Marriages

  • On the day of the ceremony, couples will not be invited to sign a marriage register but will be invited to sign a marriage document which is an A4 document.
  • Couples will have the option to include up to 4x parents in the schedule and subsequently their marriage certificate i.e. Mother, Father, Step Mother and Stepfather.
  • Couples will not receive marriage certificates on the day of the marriage.
  • If you marry in a religious ceremony, the relevant person from the religious building will return the completed, signed Marriage Schedule to the register office in the area where your marriage took place within 21 days of your marriage. Once the completed, signed Marriage Schedule is received at the register office the details will be entered onto the electronic marriage register within the following 7 days; only then will a marriage certificate be available.

Information for places of worship

The General Register Office (GRO) is publishing information and training for places of worship and the Clergy.

GRO also publishes Authorised Person newsletters and a leaflet for the Clergy:

GRO leaflet for the Clergy (PDF 267KB).

From 4 May 2021 places of worship will need to return their Marriage Register to the register office.

We will contact places of worship in Barking and Dagenham to arrange the return of registers and certificates of marriage to ensure this is completed correctly and efficiently.

Marriage of British Subjects Facilities Acts (BSFA)

There will no longer be any provision to give notice to marry in countries that were formerly covered by these acts and therefore transitional arrangements will apply to couples who have already  given notice to marry here or in one of the relevant countries after the implementation date. 

For BSFA notices given in advance of the implementation date, for a marriage in one the countries covered by these acts an authority may still issue their certificate, subject to the usual caveats about marrying in these countries. On or after the implementation date, couples will need to speak to the High Commissions of the countries concerned for further advice. 

For BSFA notices given abroad for marriages in England and Wales then both parties will need to give notice under the Marriage Schedule System, most likely at a Designated Register Office and may in some instances need to apply for a waiver.