Any two people, regardless of where they live, can marry in Northern Ireland provided that:
- They are 18 or above on the day of their marriage (consent must be obtained for those aged between 16 and 18)
- They are not related to one another in a way that would prevent them from getting married
- Neither of them is already a civil partner or is legally married
- They are not of the same sex
- They are capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and consenting to marry
The types of marriage ceremony are:
- Civil marriage in the Registrar's office (Antrim Civic Centre or Ballyclare Town Hall) or in an approved venue (subject to the availability of the Registrar), see “Where to get married”
- Religious marriage
Marriage Notice Forms
A Marriage Notice Form lasts for 12 months from the date of notice.
Marriage Notice Form (349Kb)
Documents You Will Need
When returning your marriage notice forms, both parties must provide the following documents:
- Your full (long version) birth certificate (authorised photocopies are not acceptable)
- Your passport
- A consent form (if you are aged 16-17). These are available from the Registrar
- If you have been married before and the marriage was dissolved, a certificate of divorce of annulment or a certified copy decree (decrees must be absolute or final)
- If you have been married more than once, only the documents for your most recent marriage are required
- If you have entered into a civil partnership before, a court order of dissolution for that partnership
- If you are a widow, widower or surviving civil partner, the death certificate of your former spouse or civil partner
Full terms and conditions relating to these documents, as well as information about nationality requirements, are available from the guidance notes which accompany your Marriage Notice Form.
When To Give Notice
You must tell us about your plans to get married in the 12 month period before your wedding date, and no later than 28 days before your ceremony. Notices should usually be with the Registrar about eight weeks before your ceremony, but, if either of you has been married before, forms should be submitted ten weeks before. No appointment is necessary.
You should return all the relevant supporting documents with your Marriage Notice Forms and the fee (see below).
Formal notice cannot be taken more than 12 months before the date of marriage but we do strongly recommend that you make a provisional booking with the registrar (for civil ceremonies) as soon as you have a specific date in mind and this can be further than 12 months in advance of your marriage. Please note that all dates are subject to availability.
If you are having a religious ceremony, you should speak to your officiant before filling out your Marriage Notice Form as he/she will need to sign them. Your forms should then be posted or delivered to the Registrar within the Borough the marriage is taking place. If you are having a civil ceremony, you should make advance arrangements with the Registrar. This is particularly important during busy times of the year.
Religious marriages can take place anywhere in the Borough, provided you have the approval of the appropriate religious body. If you choose to have a religious ceremony in the Borough, you will still need to complete Marriage Notice Forms and bring them to the Registrar in the district you intend to have the ceremony.
The fee for a couple giving notice of marriage for a religious ceremony is £52.00 (£22.00 per person, plus £8.00 for a marriage certificate). Payment can be made by cash, cheque or card.
A religious marriage can only be solemnised by an officiant who has been registered as an officiant and authorised by the Registrar General. You should contact your officiant well in advance of your chosen wedding date to ask them to sign your Marriage Notice Forms.
Once your Marriage Notice Forms, Identification and fee have been returned to the Registrar, a marriage schedule will be prepared. The marriage schedule cannot be issued more than 14 days before your wedding date and you will be informed when this is ready for collection. The schedule can only be collected in person by the bride or groom. You should give your marriage schedule to your officiant in advance of the marriage ceremony.
What Happens Next?
If you are having a civil ceremony, the Registrar will contact you a few days before the ceremony to confirm any last minute arrangements. On the day of the marriage, the Registrar will bring the marriage schedule to the ceremony. The schedule will then be signed by both partners, two witnesses and the Registrar on the day of your ceremony.
If you are having a religious ceremony, at least one of you must visit the Registrar's office before your ceremony to collect your marriage schedule. The Registrar will have notified you in advance of the earliest date you could collect your schedule. You should then ensure that you give this to your Officiant in advance of the wedding. The schedule will then be signed by both partners, the Officiant and two witnesses on the day of your ceremony.
After the Marriage Ceremony?
The Registrar will keep the signed schedule and register your marriage, at which point a marriage certificate will be posted to you.
The signed schedule must be returned to the issuing Registrar within 3days of the marriage (anyone can return the schedule). The marriage will be registered and a marriage certificate will be posted to you.
Getting Married Abroad
If you are getting married outside Northern Ireland, please see link for details https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/marriage-outside-uk-and-republic-ireland.
If your marriage ceremony does not take place, you must notify the Registrar as soon as possible and return your marriage schedule.