Ceremony, Reception, Honeymoon

OK, so you've done all the planning and prep, sorted the legal stuff, so what happens next on the big day itself?

The Civil Ceremony

The civil ceremony is laid down in the Marriage Acts and you are required to make two statements. One is the declaratory statement and the other is a contracting statement. You have a choice of which statements you prefer and the ceremonies team will discuss this with you. You may also be able to add music and readings to the ceremony, whether this is to take place in an approved venue or in a Registration Office. The choice of music and readings must be approved by the ceremonies team in advance of the wedding.

Civil weddings are non-religious ceremonies and the law prevents use of any religious music or readings. You can have the two 'Wedding Marches' (Mendelssohn and Wagner) if you wish. Most Registration Offices have a marriage planner to help you decide on the best way to incorporate music and readings into the ceremony.

Traditional Bridal Procession

In a civil ceremony the bride can enter with an escort and join the groom and best man at the 'head' of the ceremony room. The wedding march by Wagner, or some other piece of music, can be used to accompany the procession into the room. The bride would be holding the right arm of her escort as she walks into the ceremony room.  Once the bride has been escorted to the groom, the escort will return to a seat left vacant for him/her. If applicable, at this stage, the bride would lift the veil from her face. Bouquets can be handed to the chief bridesmaid or the Registration Officer can place it on a table. 

Signing the Register

The registration of your marriage is completed by the Ceremony Officer and this becomes a permanent legal record of the event.  After the ceremony the Ceremony Officer will ask you to come forward and check the details carefully before signing the entry. This is very important as any errors cannot be corrected afterwards without legal authority.

The bride signs in the name she is using immediately before the ceremony (usually her maiden name). The bride is not legally bound to use her husband's surname for the future and she can continue to use her own surname if she wishes. Once the bride and groom have signed, the two witnesses will be asked to sign the register. It is preferred if witnesses are over 16 years of age, although in law there is no age limit.

Once you have signed the Register you will be issued with a marriage certificate.  Then music will normally be played for the couple to leave the marriage room. You can choose the Wedding March by Mendelssohn or some other piece of music.  Cornwall Registration Service have also developed Commemorative Certificates which come in a Celtic design.  These are not statutory documents, but offer you an elegant and ornate certificate to commemorate the occasion.  There is a fee for these certificates.

Traditional Departure

Traditionally the bride walks with her hand on her husband's left arm and her veil clear of her face. The rest of the party walk behind in the same order as they occupied before except that the bridesmaids are normally behind the couple.

Doing it differently

Don't forget, however, you don't have to follow tradition and if you want something different then please discuss it with the ceremony team who will be happy to help you cecide on your marriage ceremony.

The Reception

You may be planning a traditional wedding reception, an evening party or even a party on the beach!  Watching your friends and family celebrating your special day with you makes for a memorable occasion. If you choose a hotel, the catering facilities are there on hand and can help to make your day run smoothly from wedding breakfast to ceremony to reception and on to the evening 'do'.

If you choose a venue such as a castle or stately home, why not arrange for a marquee on the lawn. Outside catering companies can arrange everything for you. Make contact with the caterer in plenty of time as the most popular wedding dates are often booked many months in advance. For more intimate weddings you could always choose a beach bar for your reception.

Just as you need to book your wedding venue well in advance, don't forget to book the reception venue at the same time. Especially in the Summer as that's a very busy time for us in Cornwall.

Here are some tips for things to remember:

  • Ask for sample menus from the caterer
  • Discuss budget options
  • Check on numbers of waiting staff to the number of guests
  • How the food will be transported to the venue
  • Can the caterer also provide champagne, wines, etc
  • Who will be responsible for clearing up, especially if you have an outdoor event


Why rush away when you can have the time of your life together in a destination that is certainly going places ..... Cornwall! Every wedding is a unique event, and every honeymoon is a once in a lifetime experience. Everyone's idea of romance is different - including what would make a honeymoon extra special. Cornwall can cater for pretty much everything you want out of your first holiday as a married couple.

The county is renowned for its stunning coastline, and there are a multitude of hotels, large and small, with glorious sea views and easy access to the beach for those moonlit strolls with just each other and the sound of the waves for company. Or a country house hotel tucked away inland, hidden down winding lanes.

Alternatively, you could choose the self-catering option and go for an old fisherman's cottage beside a harbour, or a hideaway in a wild and unspoilt location high on a cliff top or the unspoilt beauty of the inland moors.

Although it's quite understandable to just want to snuggle up and shut yourself away from the world - don't miss out on all the other things Cornwall has to offer! Go to the Visit Cornwall website for more information.

We hope this gives you some ideas and inspires you to choose Cornwall as a wildly romantic place to begin your married life together.

As civil marriages grow in popularity, this means even more weddings in Cornwall. Couples choosing a civil wedding can marry in a Registration Office or an approved venue such as a castle or hotel. The key word is now ‘choice’ and choice is not just restricted to the venue. You can choose the type of ceremony you want.

Here in Cornwall, the ceremonies team make it their business to help you create your own special occasion - to design your ceremony around all that is important to you. So make it a civil wedding, there is much more on offer, and Cornwall Registration Service, with its wealth of experience.