wedding photographer bedfordshire

wedding photographer bedfordshire

TOP TIPS For Getting Married in a Registry Office

If your thoughts of a religious ceremony or stately home wedding don’t necessarily make you excited, you may consider getting married in a registry office.

In the UK, you can use a registry office to declare a birth, death, marriage or civil partnership, and registry office weddings remain a popular choice for many people.

Registry office weddings can be beautiful
They can be just as amazing and an understated alternative to the traditional large white wedding, and a easy way to reduce your wedding budget. They’re often followed by a wedding breakfast with the couple’s closest friends and family.

Alternatively, registry office weddings can be the pre-cursor to a destination wedding to ensure all the legalities are sorted before you jet off for your blessing. In that case, you might not want to invite any of your friends and family at all.

If you’re considering getting married in a registry office, here’s everything you need to know to get started with your planning.

To be legally married in the UK, you and your partner must be at least 16 years old (although in England and Wales, if either of you are under 18 your parents must give their consent), and you must not be closely related (hopefully that one is obvious).

Different rules apply to anyone from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland. If your partner isn’t from the UK, Switzerland or the EEA and isn’t settled in the UK, they will need to apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa.

The government website has all the information you need. (see end of post for links)

READ MORE: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

What Do You Need to Get Married in a Registry Office?
To get married in a registry office, you’ll first need to choose the one you would like. It could be the closest one to where you live, the registry office in the town you were born or simply somewhere that holds a special place in your hearts. You can use this registry office finder to help you.

Once you’ve decided on a date and location for your ceremony (dependent on the registrar’s availability), you’ll need to give notice at your local registry office. This is the same process you’d need to go through if you were getting married at another registered venue like a pub or restaurant wedding venue.

Can I choose any registry office to get married?
If you plan on getting married at a registry office which isn’t within your district, you should still go to your local one to give notice. They’ll be able to notify the office you plan to marry at on your behalf. You’ll then need to call the registry office you want to marry at to book a 15 minute appointment. At this appointment, you’ll have an interview, fill in forms and have your identity checked. If you and your other half live in different registration districts, you should give notice separately at your own local registry offices. You do not have to do this on the same day as each other.

You have 12 months to get married
You have 12 months from the date you give notice to marry and you can give notice no less than 28 days before the date of your proposed marriage. We wouldn’t recommend leaving things this late though! The registrar needs time to decide whether the two of you are free and able to marry each other, and the registry office needs to have availability on your chosen date.

When you first go to the registry office, you need to take proof of your name, age and nationality. This could be a valid passport, birth certificate, national identity card, certificate of registration, certificate of naturalisation, biometric residence card or permit, or a travel document. If you’ve changed your name, you must also bring proof of that, for example, a deed poll and proof of address.

READ MORE: Hosting the Ultimate Wedding in London

What do I take to registry office to get married?
You will also need to bring proof of address, for example a valid UK or EEA driving licence, gas or electricity bill from the last three months, a bank statement from the last month, or a council tax bill or mortgage settlement from the last 12 months. It’s best to check with your local registry office what exactly they will require from you before you go – for example, some may specifically require a photographic form of ID.

When you send your marriage notice application form you’ll also need to provide the originals of your birth or adoption certificate and passport to support your application. If you’ve been married before, you’ll need to provide your decree absolute as evidence of your divorce, the marriage certificate from your previous marriage and a death certificate, if your previous spouse passed away.

Once everything has been sent off, you may be asked to visit your registrar’s office ahead of the marriage date to make final arrangements or collect the marriage schedule. On the day of the ceremony, after you’ve said your vows, the registrar will grant you with a marriage certificate and register the marriage.

READ MORE: Summer Wedding Trends 2021

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married in a Registry Office?
If you choose to marry at a registry office in the UK, you’ll have to pay for hiring a room in the registry office, for each person to give notice and for a marriage certificate.

The cost of hiring a room in a registry office usually starts from £57+ for a basic ceremony.

The fee for giving notice when you present your notice application is usually £35 per person. It goes up to £47 per person if either of you are from outside the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, and both of the following apply: you need a visa to live in the UK and you do not have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa or a family visa.

How much is a marriage certificate?
Last but not least, you’ll need to pay for your marriage certificate. This costs £4 on the day or £10 if you collect it afterwards, although lots of registry offices include the certificate cost in their room price. We’d always recommend having a copy of your marriage certificate to hand at home.

Additional costs you can incur include: paying for a ceremony room not just a registry office room, extra charges for Saturday appointments to give notice, and fees paid for approving divorce documents from outside the UK or making changes to your application.

READ MORE: The Best Wedding Speeches

How Long Does a Wedding at a Registry Office Take?
A marriage ceremony in a registry office will take approximately 20 minutes.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Wedding Blogs You Should Be Reading

How Many Witnesses Do You Need for a Registry Office Wedding?
As romantic as it might sound to get married with no one around but the two of you, you sadly can’t get married in the absence of witnesses.

Not only must your marriage be conducted by a person (or in the presence of a person) authorised to register marriages in the district, but you must also have at least two witnesses.

These two witnesses must witness the ceremony before signing at the time of marriage. Witnesses don’t legally have to be of a certain age but you should check with the person marrying you if they have an age limit on who they’ll accept. Oh, and you don’t actually have to know your witnesses!

READ MORE: 5 wedding tips they don’t tell you!

What Does a Registry Office Wedding Look Like?
If you think registry office weddings are dull, you couldn’t be more wrong. According to the General Register Office, you can more or less tailor the ceremony to suit your own individual tastes, needs and ideas. This is a fab way to make it that little bit special!

Can I decorate my wedding at a registry office?
Registry offices are normally decorated with flowers pre-ceremony, but there’s nothing to stop you from arranging your own floral display or decorations. That said, you should bear in mind that several weddings may be held in the same day as yours, and any intricate decorations or displays are likely to be impossible. They’d take far too long to put up and take down and my cost you a little bit more.

Your choice of music and readings are allowed at a registry office, but hymns or passages from the Bible are not. Music and readings with religious connotations are not allowed.

If there’s anything out of the ordinary that you’d like to have or do at your registry office wedding, it’s best to speak to your local superintendent registrar. Each has their own individual criteria as to what is and isn’t allowed during the ceremony, and they’ll be open to discussing ideas with you.

Do I Need to Get Married in a UK Registry Office Before Getting Married Abroad?
It will depend on the country you’re getting married in as to whether you’ll need to get officially married in the UK before going away.

Many countries have a minimum residency period before you can obtain a marriage licence there. For example, in parts of Italy it varies between four and seven days, but in France, at least one of the parties will need to prove they’ve lived in the country for a minimum of 30 days prior to the application for a marriage licence. In Spain, you can only marry if you’ve been a resident for the last two years, or, if you live in the UK, for either party to be a Spanish national. Unless you want to move to Spain for two years, a British couple living in the UK can’t have a legal wedding in Spain.

Start your research early, and if the country you want to get married in has a minimum residency period, it might be easier to get married in a registry office in the UK and then just hold a blessing abroad. Check out our ultimate guide to getting married abroad for more information.

READ MORE: Planning a destination wedding

What Should You Wear to a Registry Office Wedding?
Whether your registry office wedding is your main event or an add-on to your destination wedding, you’ll want to look and feel your best when you’re saying your vows.

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Top 10 Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer Before You Hire Them!

There’s few other events in life that are as anticipated as a good wedding. So, when it comes to your very own big day, nothing should be left to chance, especially your wedding photos.

Once you’ve settled on a wedding venue, booking a top wedding photographer is the next priority and one of the most important wedding suppliers you will hire. As such, it’s important to find someone with the right blend of personality, professionalism and experience to capture the magical moments of your big day. This is why it’s ideal to have a list of questions to ask a wedding photographer prior to hiring them.

Read More: Why Hire A Professional Photographer

As a professional photographer with more than 12 years’ experience, I know what it takes to document the most special day of your lives, having photographed hundreds of weddings in the UK and abroad and it’s not just a couple of professional cameras or technology that creates a wedding story, it’s the photographer.

Questions to ask a wedding photographer…

But knowing what to ask a wedding photographer can be difficult, in most situations you’ve never had to hire one before so I’ve put together this top 10 list of questions to consider in advance of booking them:

Top 10 Questions To Ask A Wedding Photographer from Gary Nunn on Vimeo.

1. How long have you been working as a wedding photographer?

It’s always good to establish someone’s credentials early on. The difference between a good photographer and a good wedding photographer is huge. A talented wedding photographer will understand the proceedings and pressures of the day, knowing when and where to anticipate precious moments and never miss a shot. I would always recommend using a seasoned professional photographer, despite the allure of a cheaper less experienced amateur. There’s plenty of good photographers that take wedding photos as a side hobby, but is it really worth the risk if they lack experience?

Wedding photography is an industry where price reflects quality, and it’s worth paying a little bit more for someone you can trust to capture the memories of the most important day of your lives. Typically speaking, an established wedding photographer will have a few years’ experience under their belt and photography will be their full-time profession.

2. Can I see your portfolio?

Unless it’s displayed online this is another fail-safe way to check that your photographer has adequate experience. Use this as an opportunity to talk-through some of their work, checking for variety of shots, breadth of experience and photography style. This can be in print format, or through their latest wedding blog posts. Let your instinct guide you, especially if you can picture yourself in the photos of imagine it being your big day, that’s always a good sign.

Make sure that the images your potential wedding photographer is showing you are images taken at real weddings and not styled shoots or from a photography course. These images are fine in your portfolio as long as they make you aware. Styled wedding shoots are VERY different to a real wedding where you have many hours of styling and prep with professional models, this doesn’t reflect the pressure and time constraints that a real wedding brings to the table. Every single image you see on my website are from real weddings.

3. What is your photography style?

All wedding photographers have their own unique style. Looking through their portfolio you will be able to decipher a top wedding photographer from an average one. I’ve always felt that candid wedding photography is the best style, since it allows you to capture genuine moments that are real and in the moment, this is also known as reportage wedding photography. Naturally, you will want creative shots too, but it should mostly be capturing the day as it unfolds, telling your story. Being super creative comes with a lot of experience, being able to set up a shot ahead of time, knowing that the day isn’t about you but the Bride and Groom so being respectful of time is imperative to keep the day flowing.

Nobody wants a wedding photographer in London who keeps asking you to pose or set up 20 group photos. It’s about working in a controlled manner, being efficient with the time you have to put the story together. I like to let the day flow naturally and if you hire an experienced professional they will know how to keep to this whilst creating the hero shots.

4. What Equipment do you Shoot With?

This is a good question to ask a wedding photographer to understand their technical prowess, rather than anything else. Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras tend to be the major brands used by professionals and cameras must ideally be full frame with fast prime lenses. You may also want to ask about lighting and exposure, this will provide an insight into their foresight and planning ability, as well as highlight any considerations for your venues. Do they sound like they know what they are talking about?

It’s absolutely essential the photographer takes 2 or 3 cameras on a wedding day with multiple lenses, those with just 1 camera are taking a huge risk of losing all of your wedding images and will not be professionals. Having backup equipment is a part of being a professional photographer.

5. Can you photograph abroad?

There’s no better backdrop than a bright blue sky on a perfect sunny day. Unfortunately, this is one thing the great British weather can’t guarantee. It’s also one of the main reasons why many people chose to elope abroad. If you are thinking about a destination wedding photographer, a local UK photographer can be just as affordable as hiring one abroad. Plus, you have the added benefit of meeting them in advance, being able to speak to them in English and having access to them at your disposal while away. If your photographer can shoot abroad, ask them what costs are included in the package, it’s really not as expensive as you may think.

I shoot many destinations weddings and enjoying being a destination wedding photographer and always provide many more images that a UK wedding as I like to meet the wedding party the day before. This provides me the opportunity to bond with the group, make friends, gain trust which reflects in the images I deliver.

Read More: Planning A Destination Wedding

6. How do you provide the images and how long does it take?

This is an important question that a lot of people should ask, but don’t. It’s good to have expectations managed from the start. If you would like your photos within a certain timeframe, and if you want a mixture of landscape and portrait, colour and black and white shots, this is a good opportunity to talk them through with your photographer. As a general rule, it can take anything from 5-8 weeks to get your wedding photos back, these will be retouched and cropped for you to share. I personally hand edit each image to ensure consistency. I then provide a gallery for you to view and share with family and friends.

If your wedding is chosen to be up on the blog I will let you know. Here is Koichi and Carolinas wedding featured wedding in Italy

7. How long will you photograph at our wedding?

Each wedding photographer will have their own style and requirements. It is advisable for the photographer to start with the bridal party to capture all the special moments of them getting ready, moving on to the vows and reception afterwards. Some photographers will leave before the wedding breakfast, others will stay for the first dance. Everything can be negotiated, but my advice is to have your photographer stay as long as possible, so you capture every special moment. I’m with you from the moment the brides makeup starts to the first dance. I personally don’t offer half day wedding photography packages.

Read More: Essential Wedding Photos To Capture

8. Do we need to provide you with food and drink?

If your photographer is staying with you throughout the day, then you will need to consider time for them to have a rest and eat. This is worth asking early on to factor them in to the day. I’m with you for at least 10 hours, carrying 2 heavy cameras, being mentally with you and focused, walking over 15,000 steps. Honestly us photographers aren’t all super human and all need to sit down now and again ?

9. Do you know the venue?

Although every venue is different, an experienced wedding photographer can turn their hand to any location. They will constantly be thinking ahead of lighting, people, backdrops and all the other elements that come together to produce the perfect shot. It’s a bonus if your photographer does know the venue, but most will have a good understanding of the logistical elements and a recce is rarely needed.

Read More: Beautiful Wedding Venues

10. What is included in the package?

While weddings can be very expensive affairs, a top wedding photographer should be looked at as an investment. Packages can be negotiated, and may include high-quality prints, as well as digital versions. Think about your requirements before meeting and discuss these with your photographer. I try to keep wedding photography packages simple and transparent, which would include any travel or accommodation costs depending on where your wedding will be.

Read More: How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost

Bonus Question!

11. What if you fall ill on the day of our wedding?

What happens if your photographer falls ill on the day, or something happens that means that they aren’t’ able to attend? This is a vital question to put to your wedding photographer, and they should have a backup plan in place. A professional photographer always has a plan B and a plan C, including a list of industry contacts they can call upon at a minute’s notice if something happens. If your photographer can’t answer this, alarm bells should be ringing! Unless I’m on my death bed I’ll be at your wedding.

Questions to ask yourself:

And finally, here’s a few questions and wedding tips you might want to ask yourself too:
• Do I have good rapport with the photographer?
• What do wedding photos mean to me and do I pay that little bit extra to hire a good professional?
• Have I seen their work/portfolio and do I like it?
• Am I comfortable in their company, knowing that they will be taking intimate photos of our big day?
• What do other clients say about them (check out their website and Google reviews)?
• Are they active on social media? (InstagramPinterestFacebook)

By knowing what to ask a wedding photographer and with some forward planning in place, you’re taking the right measures to ensure your big day is also the best day of your lives!
Does planning a wedding sound daunting? Check out my wedding planning checklist for industry leading tips on getting the most from your wedding day.

Gary Nunn is a leading wedding photographer in Milton Keynes. Get in touch today for a free consultation about your special day! Check out my frequently asked questions.