Westgate Hall - your questions answered

Inside Westgate Hall

How many guests am I allowed at Westgate Hall?

Due to the beauty and age of the building Westgate Hall has very strict capacity rules in place to comply with the fire regulations. This means that there is a limit of 74 guests allowed in Westgate Hall for a ceremony which includes babies and children. The 74 limit does not apply to the couple themselves, but does include photographers and musicians. There will be no facility for guests to stand at the back.

What happens if I arrive late?

There is likely to be more than one ceremony on the day. It is important that you are on time as The Superintendent Registrar will start the ceremony at the time you have booked. If you arrive late the Superintendent Registrar will not be able to delay the ceremony.  You and your guests should allow extra time to travel into the City and find appropriate parking.

I know we have to be interviewed before the ceremony but we do not want to see each other until we enter the ceremony room. What time do we need to arrive?

The groom (or party one) should arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony. The Registrar will then take them into the private interview room to check that the personal details are correct ready for the ceremony. This also gives you the opportunity to ask any last minute questions about the ceremony. The first party will then be escorted upstairs to the ceremony room. The bride (or party two) should arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony. While the Registrar is checking the personal details in the private interview room the Superintendent Registrar will be seating the guests.

However, many couples do not wish to be kept apart before the ceremony and often arrive together. In this case please arrive 30 minutes before hand and the registrar will interview you together.

How does the parking work?

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 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.

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.

Is there a lift for my guests to use?

There is a disabled lift available for wheelchair users and guests with mobility issues. Due to its size it can only take one person along with a competent adult ‘buddy’ or one wheelchair user plus an adult. It is important that the staff are present when your guest enters into the lift so that they can supervise the journey up to the first floor. The lift would be unavailable during an evacuation situation. Buggies and pushchairs are to remain downstairs.

Are there toilet and baby changing facilities available?

The toilets are located downstairs for the convenience of your guests. There are separate toilets for men and women along with a toilet for those with mobility difficulties. The baby changing facility is also in this toilet.

Can I bring anything to decorate the ceremony room?

Westgate Hall is a dedicated ceremony venue and has been thoughtfully designed to give the room a real vintage and professional finish. It is beautifully decorated with winding flowers twisting around the old beams and romantic flower arrangements around the room. As there will be more than one ceremony that day we do not have time for personal decorations to be installed and removed for each ceremony. For fire and health and safety reasons we cannot allow a carpet to be put down or for any candles to be lit.

How does the music work? Do I need to bring a device?

It is usual to have three pieces of music for your ceremony. This would mean something played for the big entrance, for the signing of the paperwork, and for the exit of the happy couple. The music should be suitable for a ceremony and have no religious meaning or references.

If you would like to provide a CD or USB stick with your choices on the registrar will play the music for you. The CD or USB stick is brought with you on the day of the ceremony as we do not have the facility to store this for you in advance. If you would like to use a phone or MP3 player then one of your guests should take responsibility for playing the music through our system. Phones usually sync easily to our system but we have auxiliary wires ready if that does not work.

I would like to hire a harpist. Can the harp get to the ceremony room easily?

Harps vary in size and weight. The ceremony would be held upstairs and it would need to be carried up the stairs ready for the ceremony by the harpist, as the lift cannot take a harp. It is advisable to ask your harpist to contact us to discuss the practicalities of how to get the harp up the stairs before the day. Southampton Registration Services cannot accept any liability for damages to musical equipment whilst on the premises.

Can 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 that the flash is not used excessively. We ask that you do not photograph the signing of the official paperwork as we need to observe our data protection commitments. We will set the couple up for a 'mock-signing' after the ceremony when there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph the couple in this traditional pose.

Why can I not 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. You are, of course, allowed to have civil readings and music to enhance your ceremony. There are plenty of options for you to choose available online and as long as they are suitable for the ceremony they really do make your ceremony more individual.

Can I have a religious blessing as part of the ceremony?

Unfortunately we cannot have any religious content in the ceremony. Many couples who would like a religious blessing decide to arrange for their minister of religion to conduct a religious blessing at their church or temple afterwards. This is a lovely way to continue the celebrations once you have left Westgate Hall and would give you real flexibility. A religious blessing cannot take place before a civil ceremony.

What traditions can I have as part of my ceremony?

You are welcome to add any detail into your ceremony as long as it does not compromise the dignity of the occasion or have religious meaning. You may wish to be given away by someone, add your own vows, exchange rings or share a kiss once you have been declared married or in a civil partnership with each other. A pre-ceremony consultation appointment will help you with your final questions and details.

Who can be my witnesses?

You need two witnesses to sign the marriage paperwork 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.

Can we throw confetti or rice?

Confetti is a lovely tradition and looks stunning in your photographs. The confetti should be natural dried flower petals or biodegradable confetti. This is to ensure that the local area and environment are unaffected. Confetti can only be thrown at the end of the walkway, away from the building. Foil or plastic confetti, fabric petals or rice are not permitted to be thrown.

Can my flower girl scatter petals down the aisle?

Unfortunately the room will need to be ready for the next ceremony therefore natural petals can only be thrown outside at the end of the walkway.

Can I bring my pet?

Westgate Hall is a council building and therefore does not permit any pets or animals. This does not apply to assistance dogs.

Cheers! I would like to toast our future with a bottle of bubbly. Is this ok?

Unfortunately there is no food or drink permitted on the premises or surrounding area of Westgate Hall. With respect to our Westgate Street residents any drinks to toast your union will need to be saved for the reception.

Your certificates

Your certificate is your way of proving that you are married or now in a civil partnership. The ceremony fee you pay includes two certificates, which may be sent to you in the post at a later date. You can always order additional certificates afterwards.

And finally...

If you are worried about the ceremony and would like to discuss it in more detail you are welcome to book a pre-ceremony consultation with one of our experienced registrars. Many couples feel reassured by discussing the details that are important to them before the day.

View Westgate Hall

  • Saturday 7 March 2020, 10am - 12noon
  • Thursday 2 April 2020, 5pm - 7pm

For an appointment please contact the ceremonies team on 023 8091 5327 or by email using our get in touch form.

Get in touch


Hall details

  • Location: Westgate Street, Southampton, SO14 2AY
  • Capacity: 74 seated guests
  • Cost: As little as £637 including booking and notice fees

Other venues

Brochure & price list