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Arranging a ceremony

We are delighted that you are considering the Isle of Man for your ceremony. We hope that the information provided will assist you with your arrangements and help you plan your special day. We understand that this is a memorable and special occassion and we are here to help make it a day to remember. Whatever you have in mind, we will do our very best to accommodate your wishes.

There has never been more choice on where to hold your ceremony and the Isle of Man is unique in that it is currently the only place in the British Isles where you can legally marry or register a civil partnership 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (subject to Registrar availability) and where it is possible for your ceremony to be held at an Approved Place, including on an aircraft (within Manx airspace), vessel (within Manx territorial waters) or vehicle or at a place granted consent by the Chief Registrar.

Venues and costs

There are a number of places on the Isle of Man where you can hold your ceremony.

Religious buildings

If you would like to marry in the Church of England, enquiries should be made to the Vicar of the church who will advise you of the legal requirements. If he/she is able to marry you, he/she will arrange for Banns to be called on three consecutive Sundays before the date of your wedding or for a Common Licence to be issued.

To marry in any other religious building, you must give notice of your intention to marry to a Registrar at the Civil Registry or at a registration office in the same way as you would for a civil ceremony. Your service will be conducted by the Priest/Minister in accordance with the religious rites and ceremonies of the denomination. 

Registration Offices

Civil ceremonies are, by definition, non-religious and the law prevents the use of any religious references. The ceremony is conducted by a Registrar who oversees the legalities of the ceremony.

The Ceremony Room at the Civil Registry is conveniently located in the Island's capital, Douglas. The spacious room is situated on the ground floor, comfortably seating fifty guests. It is tastefully decorated in light colours with contrasting blue chairs and curtains. It is equipped with a CD player and decorated with silk flower arrangements. The room opens out directly on to a paved courtyard. The facilities are fully accessible to wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. Toilet and baby changing facilities are also available.

Approved Places

Many couples now choose to have their civil ceremony at one of the many Approved Places throughout the Island. Under the Marriage Act 1984 and the Civil Partnership Act 2011, couples can marry or register a civil partnership at an alternative venue (including indoor and outdoor locations, aircraft (within Manx airspace), vessels (within Manx territorial waters) and vehicles) approved by the Chief Registrar for a civil ceremony. Couples may also apply for consent of the Chief Registrar to have their ceremony elsewhere on the Isle of Man, meaning your ceremony could take place at a favourite location or even in your own home or garden.

Fees

The total cost of your ceremony will vary depending on two things; firstly at what time you wish to hold your ceremony and secondly where you wish to hold it. The fees that make up the costs are detailed in the Fees Orders, however, to help you quickly work out what a ceremony will cost, we have set out below total indicative costs for the various scenarios.

The amounts below show the different fees payable for a ceremony (irrespective of whether a marriage or civil partnership, the fees are the same). We say these are total indicative costs simply because additional fees would be payable if you wish to extend the duration of your ceremony (the costs shown are based on a Registrar being present for no more than one hour) or if you wish to have a rehearsal in the presence of a Registrar. These additional fees are set out in the Fees Orders, although in practice couples do not normally request these options and therefore the amount shown would be the total cost in the vast majority of cases.

Civil Registry or registration office

Registration or ceremony in the presence of a Registrar at the Civil Registry or a registration office:

Monday to Friday - 9.30am to 4.30pm: £205.00
Saturday - 9.30am to 4pm: £248.00

Approved Place (the venue having 3 year Approved Place status)

Registration or ceremony in the presence of a Registrar at a place, aircraft (within Manx airspace), vessel (within Manx territorial waters) or vehicle granted 3 year Approved Place status:

Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm: £279.00
Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm: £324.00
At any other time or on a bank holiday: £434.00

Approved Place (with consent of the owner and the Chief Registrar)*

Registration or ceremony in the presence of a Registrar at a place, aircraft (within Manx airspace), vessel (within Manx territorial waters) or vehicle not granted 3 year Approved Place status:

Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm: £504.00
Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm: £549.00
At any other time or on a bank holiday: £659.00

* The fees are higher as a representative of the Civil Registry must inspect the place as to its suitability before you can proceed and formalise any arrangements.

Ceremonies abroad

Legal requirements can vary from country to country. If you reside on the Isle of Man and decide to marry or register a civil partnership abroad, you should first contact the country's authorities to find out what the legal requirements are.

What to do first

If you choose to marry in a church or other religious building, enquiries should be made to the Vicar/Priest/Minister.

If you intend to have a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration at the Civil Registry or a registration office, please liaise with the office where you wish to hold your ceremony and make an appointment to give notice of your intention to marry/register your civil partnership no earlier than twelve months and no later than eight days before your chosen ceremony date. It is at this appointment that you can reserve a date and pay for your ceremony.

If you would like to have your ceremony at an Approved Place, your first step should be to make enquiries with the venue of your choice. The venue will supply you with an AP1 Form which you must complete and forward to the Civil Registry. Once your completed application has been received and processed, the Civil Registry will allocate two Registrars to conduct and register your ceremony. Once Registrars have been allocated, you will receive confirmation in writing.

If you wish to marry or register a civil partnership at a place, aircraft, vessel or vehicle which has not been granted Approved Place status, you must complete the relevant application form applying for consent of the Chief Registrar, submitting it to the Civil Registry together with the requested documentation and prescribed fee. An inspection will be carried out by a representative of the Civil Registry as to its suitability, ensuring it meets the criteria set out in the Guidance Issued by the Clerk of the Rolls.

In all cases, we recommend that you do not confirm the date and time of your ceremony with guests until all the legal preliminaries have been fulfilled.

If either of you are subject to Immigration Control, you should contact the Isle of Man Passport, Immigration and Nationality Office in the first instance informing them of your intention to marry or register a civil partnership on the Isle of Man.

Legal requirements

Before you can marry or register a civil partnership, there are legal requirements that each party must fulfil.

You are both required to attend the Civil Registry or a registration office in person to give notice of your intention to marry/register a civil partnership by signing a legal statement in the presence of a Registrar declaring you are free to marry/register a civil partnership.

You will be asked to provide information about yourself and your partner as well as details of where the ceremony is to take place. It is at this appointment that you can confirm your ceremony date and time.

By law you cannot give notice of your intention to marry/register a civil partnership more than one year before your ceremony is due to take place. Your notice is valid for twelve months from the date it was given but only for the venue stated at the time of giving notice.

If you change your venue after you have given notice, fresh notices must be given stating the new venue and additional fees payable. It is a legal requirement for notices to be displayed in the Notice Book for seven full consecutive days to enable anyone to make a legal objection. If no objections are received within this time, the Registrar will raise a Certificate for Marriage/Civil Partnership Schedule on the eighth day confirming that your ceremony can proceed.

Your Certificate for Marriage/Civil Partnership Schedule is valid for twelve months from the date notice was given but only for the venue stated at the time of giving notice.

We urge you to fulfil all legal preliminaries by giving notice well in advance of your chosen ceremony date. Please note that your ceremony cannot proceed unless the legal preliminaries have been completed and the prescribed fees have been paid.

Documentation required

When you give notice of your intention to marry/register a civil partnership, you will be required to provide the Registrar with the original documents listed below (as applicable). Please note that photocopies cannot be accepted and that any documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Evidence of nationality, identity and gender: A valid passport is the preferred document along with a certified copy of your birth certificate.

Proof of residence: A utility bill, bank statement, Government letter, etc. stating your full legal name and dated within the last three months is required as confirmation of your residential address. 

Proof of freedom to marry/register a civil partnership: If either of you have previously been married or in a civil partnership, you must provide a certified copy of your Decree Absolute, Decree of Nullity or Dissolution Order. If either of you are a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, a certified copy of your marriage/civil partnership certificate and your deceased partner's death certificate is required.

Proof of change of name: If either of you have changed your name by deed poll, change of name deed, statutory declaration or similar, the relevant documentation is required.

Proof of age: By law you cannot marry or register a civil partnership on the Isle of Man if you are under the age of 16. If either of you are aged 16 or 17, written consent from your parent(s) and/or guardian(s) must be provided. If your parents are divorced, you may also need to produce the Court Order that grants custody to one of them.

Exceptional circumstances

If your circumstances are such that you need to have a ceremony very quickly or your ceremony needs to be held in a venue which is not licensed for civil ceremonies, we may be able to help you. Please contact the Civil Registry for further information.

Personalising your ceremony

Your ceremony can be as simple or as sophisticated as you wish and there are many ways in which you can add individual touches, creating a unique affair that you and your guests will always remember. You may choose a ceremony in which you make the required legal declarations and contract or you may decide to customise your ceremony.

We encourage you to think about ways of making your ceremony more personal by including poetry, readings, saying your own words to one another as you exchange rings and/or by choosing your own music.

A civil ceremony includes legal declaratory and contractual words and whilst it is only natural to be a little anxious, there is no need to worry about what your ceremony entails. Don't be nervous about including additional words and promises as the Registrar will guide you through your ceremony, prompting you and asking you to repeat your words.

The inclusion of poetry and readings is a matter of personal choice but it can be a lovely addition to your ceremony and a perfect way of involving family and friends.

Please be aware that any enhancements cannot contain any religious references and ensure that any inclusions in your ceremony have been forwarded to the Registrar no later than one month before your ceremony date.

The day of your ceremony

Although it may be traditional for the bride to be late, it is important that your ceremony starts promptly. Registrars are very busy and will be attending several ceremonies in one day. Please arrive in good time, allowing sufficient time for any possible traffic delays, parking and pre-ceremony photographs. Although we make every effort to accomodate late arrivals, your ceremony may have to be postponed and will incur an additional prescribed fee. The Registrar reserves the right to shorten or postpone your ceremony if necessary.

If your ceremony is taking place at the Civil Registry or a registration office, it is important for you and your guests to arrive no later than ten minutes before the start of your ceremony. You may choose to enter the Ceremony Room together as a couple or opt for a more traditional entrance.

If your ceremony is being held at an Approved Place, two Registrars will arrive approximately thirty minutes before the ceremony is due to start. One Registrar will officiate whilst the other records your marriage/civil partnership in the register.

Signing the register

At the end of the ceremony you will be asked to read through the details recorded in the register. You will then be asked to write your full legal name in your usual handwriting in ink, using a fountain pen. Your official witnesses will be asked to do the same.

Witnesses

You are required by law to have two witnesses present. They may be friends or relatives who are preferably over the age of 18 and must be able to speak English and appreciate the nature of the ceremony. They will be required to sign the register and their names will appear on your marriage/civil partnership certificate. The Registrar cannot act as a witness nor provide witnesses for you.

Things to consider

Music

Music certainly enhances the occasion and is usually played as your guests arrive, for your entrance, during the signing of the register and for your exit. This can be any music of your choice providing it has no religious references.

The Ceremony Room at the Civil Registry is equipped with a CD player and music is available. You are welcome to supply your own music (approximately twenty minutes worth) but it must be provided on a single CD to the Registrar no later than one month before your ceremony date.

If your ceremony is at an Approved Place, please liaise directly with the venue as to what facilities are available for playing recorded music. There may be more scope for you to have live music if you prefer.

Readings

Readings of non-religious poetry or prose may be read by a family member or friend, giving them the chance to play a part in your ceremony. You must supply details of all readings to the Registrar no later than one month before your ceremony.

Photography

Photographs are a very special momento and your official photographer may take photographs throughout the ceremony. Although your guests are very welcome to bring cameras to record the occasion, we ask that they keep their places until directed by the Registrar. It must be remembered that the ceremony creates a solemn and binding contract between the couple and it is essential that their attention should not be distracted in any way from the meaning and the dignity of the occasion.

Videography

We understand that you may want to look back on this important day and relive your treasured memories, therefore we are happy for a video recording of your ceremony to be taken, however, we do ask that the operator remains stationary and is not one of the parties to the ceremony or an official witness.

Flowers

The Ceremony Room at the Civil Registry is tastefully decorated with silk flower arrangements, however, you are welcome to provide your own floral arrangements for your ceremony, giving you the opportunity to personalise the room to match your chosen colour scheme. Please discuss any such arrangements with the Registrar no later than one month prior to your ceremony.

Confetti

Confetti is a traditional part of a ceremony and we are happy for your guests to throw biodegradable confetti outside the building. If your ceremony is taking place at an Approved Place, please make enquiries directly with the venue as to what restrictions they may have.

Reserved seating

We endeavour to ensure seats are reserved for your official witnesses and immediate family but as we don't know your family and friends, we suggest you allocate an usher to assist with the seating arrangements.

Children

We recognise that ceremonies are a family event and you are more than welcome to bring younger members of the family, however, we would ask that children are supervised by a responsible adult at all times. If your own children will be attending, we suggest that you ask someone to take charge and, if necessary, take them outside. It's better if that someone is a family member or friend as opposed to an official witness.

Animals

Animals or wildlife, including your own pets, are not permitted in the Ceremony Room. The only exception to this is assistance dogs who may attend with their owners. If an Approved Place permits animals or wildlife at a ceremony, the Civil Registry must be informed of these arrangements no later than one month before your ceremony date.

Interpreterer

It is essential that both you and your official witnesses fully understand the content of your ceremony and the full legal implications. If there are any language difficulties, you must provide a suitable interpreter. They may be a friend or relative who is able to read and speak both English and the language in which you communicate with each other. The interpreter will be required to sign the register and a declaration to confirm they have translated all content for you and are satisfied that you understood the nature and purpose of the ceremony. You are not permitted to interpret for each other.

Parking and public transport

There are no reserved parking spaces outside the Civil Registry, although there is disc parking zones. Pay and display car parks are located at Chester Street and Drumgold Street. For satnav systems, please use postcode IM1 3AR. The Civil Registry is easily served by public transport and is close to Douglas town centre. 

For information about parking at an Approved Place, please contact the venue direct.

Changes to your personal information

If any of your information changes after giving notice, please inform the Registrar immediately in writing, supplying documentary evidence and contact details should we need to get in touch with you before your ceremony.

Postponements and cancellations

In the event that you need to postpone or cancel your ceremony, you are required to notify the Registrar in writing by completing the Application to Amend or Cancel a Ceremony form forwarding it to the Civil Registry as soon as possible. Should you need to change the time and/or date of your ceremony, a prescribed fee will also be payable

Code of conduct - Civil Registry

  • Smoking is not permitted in any part of the Registries Building
  • Food, chewing gum, soft drinks or alcohol are not permitted in the Ceremony Room.
  • Anyone under the influence of drink and/or drugs or who is abusive, will be asked to leave the Registries Building.
  • Mobile phones, pagers, etc. must be switched off or put on silent for the duration of the ceremony.
  • Animals are not permitted in the Ceremony Room with the exception of assistance dogs with their owners.

Any person who wilfully gives false information to the Registrar relating to the particulars required to be entered in any register is liable to prosecution, and on conviction, to the punishment prescribed by law.

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