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Getting Married In The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a destination full of old-world charm. If it’s class and refinement you desire, then many of the castles, country gardens, stately homes and halls across the UK welcome marriage ceremonies with open arms. You can have a big day right out of a picture book, but it’s not all fairytales and period dramas. There are thrilling capitals such as London and Edinburgh, contrasted by wide-open spaces like the glens of Northern Ireland, the valleys of Wales, the lakes of Northwest England and the highlands of Scotland.

The UK is a sovereign state with a rich heritage and offering exceptional venues for your special day, ranging from luxury hotels and splendid stately homes to country pubs, gardens, handsome town halls and everything in between.
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are suffused with folklore, legend and history, where medieval castles and elegant country estates are diligently preserved and open to visitors.

Fact File Highlights
Weather & Climate Culture & Etiquette
Food & Drink Money & Wedding Costs
Legal Requirements Counties

Fact File

  • The UK is a kingdom of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Size: 242,900 km2 (93,784 miles2)
  • Population: Approximately 63.18 million
  • Capital City: London
  • Currency: British Pound (GBP)
  • Languages Spoken: English is the main language, but Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Scots and Welsh are all recognised
  • Main Religions: The UK is often referred to as a “multi-faith” society, traditionally dominated by Christianity but now also home to Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh followings
  • Major Holidays and Festivals:
    • New Year’s Day - January 1
    • Saint Patrick’s Day - March 17 (Northern Ireland only)
    • Good Friday - Friday before Easter Sunday
    • Easter Sunday - varies between March or April
    • Easter Monday - Monday after Easter Sunday
    • May Bank Holiday - 1st Monday in May
    • Spring Bank Holiday - last Monday in May
    • Battle of the Boyne - 12 July (Northern Ireland only)
    • Summer Bank Holiday - last Monday in August (England, Northern Ireland and Wales), first Monday in August (Scotland only)
    • St Andrew's Day - 30 November (Scotland)
    • Christmas Day - December 25
    • Boxing Day - December 26

Highlights

The list of great wedding locations in the UK is almost endless. In England you might opt for the modernity and bustle of London, or Bath and its majestic Georgian architecture.  And what better background for wedding photographs than the inspiring natural scenery of the Lake District?

In Scotland there are fairytale highland castles, moors and wild lochs; Wales has rugged mountains, green valleys and an unblemished coastline, while Northern Ireland is admired for its glens and natural wonders like the Giant’s Causeway.

The country features 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from ancient monuments like Stonehenge to the Northern Frontiers of the Roman Empire or the Cathedral and Castle Ensemble in Durham. Nature-lovers can explore any of 14 National Parks, encompassing landscapes of undulating green hills, rugged moorland, mountain ranges or ancient man-made forests.

It’s impossible to do any single region justice in one paragraph, so why not browse the individual UK Counties and subdivisions?

Weather and Climate

Given its high latitude the UK’s climate is surprisingly mild. This has much to do with the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream, which means it’s rarely extremely cold or hot. In any season, and at any location, changeability is the watchword, because rain is never too far away. Winters are cold in northern regions, with regular snowfall in higher areas. Further south conditions are fresh and damp, with highs that get above freezing and snow only falling in occasional cold snaps. The spring and autumn seasons bring daytime highs that range from between 10 degrees in Scotland and 18 degrees in the south of England. Generally the driest time of year is from June to August, coinciding with temperatures that peak between the high-teens and mid-20s, depending on the location.

If planning an outdoor ceremony or wedding reception it is always wise to have an indoor backup plan.

Culture and Etiquette

The UK is formed by four home nations, each with strong cultures and enjoying varying degrees of devolution and independent administration. So naturally, people in Wales and Scotland for instance do not like to be incorrectly referred to as English.

Visiting the UK can be tricky for visitors who aren’t prepared to speak the English tongue, as even in tourist regions this is usually the only language spoken. Visitors will find residents polite and friendly everywhere, but, as in most countries, people are chattier and more open in rural regions.

The UK is a safe place, but again, as in any country, it pays to take simple precautions such as keeping valuables out of sight in parked cars, avoiding walking alone at night through inner city areas and keeping an eye on personal belongings on city streets and transit systems.

Food and Drink

With a cuisine that has been derided for centuries, modernisation and re-evaluation has put the UK’s gastronomy in a new light.  The UK now ranks 9th in the world in terms of countries with the most Michelin starred restaurants.

Traditional favourites include fish and chips, roast beef, and haggis in Scotland. Alcoholic specialities are brewed across the country, whether it’s whisky in Scotland, or ales and bitters across England. Don’t forget afternoon tea, served with finger foods and scones, and a British staple since the mid-19th Century.

Tipping in restaurants is not compulsory, but most people will leave a tip of at least 10% of the bill if the service has been of a good standard.  Some restaurants will add this to the bill unless you ask for them to remove it.

Money and Wedding Costs

Unlike many EU countries, the UK has kept its own currency, Pound Sterling (GBP). Coins in circulation include 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes available are £5, £10, £20 and £50. As a rule, the Pound is the only accepted currency, but Euros can be used in some areas of London and Northern Ireland.

The average cost of a wedding in the UK is around £18,000, more than the average deposit on a home.  Every wedding is different of course, but a reception venue capable of hosting 50 guests or more costs on average more than £4,000 with roughly the same amount again needed for catering.

The basic wedding licence will cost only £3.50 but there are a number of additional costs, like the church, registry office or the venue you choose. On average it is £30 to give notice for a Registry Office and £40 for another approved venue. Churches are different and have their own costs, which fluctuate greatly depending on size and location. The certificate itself will cost £3.50.

Legal Requirements for Marrying in the UK

Warning The following notes are not comprehensive and are intended as a guide only. Before planning your wedding in the UK we strongly advise you to contact the UK embassy in your home country or your country's embassy in the UK to obtain up-to-date legal requirements.

Beyond needing to present the documentation you might expect (information about you, your employment, accommodation and travel plans) there are a couple of legal quirks to heed to get married in the UK.

Firstly, notice must be given in person at a local registry office at least 15 days before the intended wedding. Proof of name, age, occupation, nationality and present marital status (single, divorced, widow/widower) is required.

You must also provide proof of the dissolution of any previous marriage. If you are from outside the Euro Zone you will need a Certificate of Approval from the Home Office or Visa.

Scotland differs slightly in that there is no residence requirement. It is necessary to state an intention to marry in advance, but you needn’t be present in person at the registrar’s office to do it.

The UK Border Agency provides detailed information about what is needed from both EU and Non-EU citizens: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/marriage-cp/requirements/

Counties of the United Kingdom

Often descended from former kingdoms and duchies from the Middle Ages, the UK’s various counties have different roles depending on their nation. In essence though, the counties today exist for the sake of making administrative and geographical distinctions.

The UK isn’t a large country, but there are often tangible differences from county to county, in terms of heritage, culture, landscape and climate. Browse through to find the place that sounds perfect for your special day. In Scotland the historic county system has been replaced by administrative subdivisions.

Find out more about the Counties of the United Kingdom or browse our UK Wedding Directory to start planning your dream wedding.