Frequently asked questions about your big day

Watch iconWhat happens if I arrive late?

At our offices in Bugle Street we often have several ceremonies booked one after the other and will always try to ensure ceremonies run on time.

If you arrive late we may have to omit any readings or shorten the time allowed for photographs afterwards. Despite this, we will still take care to ensure that your ceremony is special.

If you are holding your ceremony at an approved venue, the Registrars may have other ceremonies to attend so the above information may still apply.

Question mark iconI know we have to be interviewed before the ceremony but we do not want to see each other until we enter the ceremony room. How does this work?

If you are holding your ceremony at Bugle Street, the groom (or first party) will be interviewed first, then take them directly from the interview room into the ceremony room.

It's best that the bride (or second party) waits in the courtyard until the Registrar comes to collect them for their pre-marriage interview.

We can also make arrangements for a couple to be interviewed separately at our approved premises and liaise with venue staff to enable this to happen.

We cannot guarantee that you will not see each other before the ceremony but will do our best to make it happen.

Decorations iconCan I bring anything to decorate the ceremony room?

Our ceremony rooms in Bugle Street are beautiful decorated and already have flower arrangements so it is not necessary to provide your own.

We perform many ceremonies throughout the day so cannot allow time for personal decorations to be installed and removed for each ceremony. For health and safety reasons we also cannot allow a carpet to be put down or candles to be brought in.

However, if you are holding your ceremony in one of our approved premises you may contact them directly to ask about decorating the ceremony room. We only ask that decorations have no religious meaning.

Camera iconCan we take photographs or make a video recording of the ceremony?

You are welcome to take photographs or recordings of the ceremony as long as it does not interfere with the ceremony itself and the flash is not used excessively.

We ask that you do not photograph the signing of the register. We will set the couple up for a 'mock-signing' after the ceremony.


Bible iconWhy can't I have anything religious in my ceremony?

As the ceremony is a civil ceremony we are not allowed to have any words, music or actions that are religious.

This means that we cannot include words from the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible or other religious books, and we cannot allow the playing of a hymn or any lighting of candles during the ceremony.

Question mark iconCan I have a religious blessing as part of the ceremony?

We cannot offer this in The Golden Jubilee Room, The Magnolia Room or the Register Office. If you wish to have a blessing immediately after your marriage at an approved venue, the civil ceremony must be complete and the Registrars must have left the premises.

A religious blessing cannot take place before a civil ceremony.

Witnesses iconWho can be my witnesses?

You need two witnesses to sign the marriage register and they can be friends or family members.

Although there is no legal upper or lower age limit, they need to understand the nature of marriage and understand English.

If you have used a translator during your ceremony they must sign as one of the witnesses.

Confetti iconCan we throw confetti or rice?

If you are having your ceremony at one of our ceremony rooms in Bugle Street you are welcome to throw biodegradable confetti in the courtyard, however if you are marrying at an approved venue we recommend that you check with them before the day.

If confetti is not allowed, many people have bubbles as an alternative.

Question mark iconHow does the parking work?

Parking for Westgate Hall

The Westgate Hall is in one of the most historic and picturesque areas of the City, but unfortunately does not have any parking facilities. 

You are welcome to park one ceremony car only outside the Westgate Hall, providing that someone stays with the vehicle at all times. This is usually the chauffeur if you have hired a car. There are double yellow lines along the whole of Westgate street, and the usual fines would apply. We ask that you make your guests aware of alternative parking nearby.

The Westgate Hall is set in a quiet residential area. You and your guests should respectfully arrive and leave quietly, to ensure that we do not disturb the peace of our local residents.

Parking for Southampton Register Office

Guests attending ceremonies at Southampton Register Office are kindly asked not to park in our car park as spaces are very limited. Parking is available for one ceremony car only, and must be parked in a marked bay (Larger cars and limousines will need to park outside on Bugle Street). We ask that you make your guests aware of alternative parking nearby.

There is one disabled bay inside the Register Office gates and one just outside on the Street. If they are both taken, you will need to find alternative parking."

Certificate iconCertificates

You marriage certificate is your way of proving that you are married and can be requested as evidence by various organisations, especially if you are changing your surname.

We recommend that you order a couple of copies of your certificate when you pay for your ceremony.

If you order copies of certificates from us at a later date they may cost more.

Passport iconChanges to your passport

You are able to obtain a post-dated passport in your married name within three months of the date of your marriage.

Simply download passport change form from GOV.UK, and ask the Registrars who will be performing your ceremony to complete the form and return it to you prior to your marriage.

If you have already booked your honeymoon abroad, ask your travel agent for advice.

Duck iconRe-registration of children

If the natural parents of children marry each other it is a good idea to get those children re-registered even if they already have their father's surname.

Not only does it change their mother's surname, but it shows that the parents have married each other on the child's birth certificate.

Just complete an (LA1) for each child, which can be found on GOV.UK and then make an appointment for the re-registration.

The only fee for this is for the new, updated birth certificate.