A guide to civil weddings in the UK

Whether you want to write a poem for your lover or steal a few lines from a Shakespearean sonnet, the ability to personalize your vows is part of the appeal of a civil ceremony.

However, Cathcart says the level of personalization varies between different local councils. “Some counties allow more personalization than others,” she says. However, religious references are not allowed in any part of the ceremony.

To make the marriage legally binding, certain legal formulations must be included in the vows – namely the declaration (“I solemnly declare that I am not aware of any legal obstacle why I (name) may not be married (name)”) and the contract asking those present to testify for your union.

“Personalized vows can be added separately or placed on top of this second legal contract. It’s up to the individual and how they want to do it, ”says Cathcart. It also depends on the registrar. If you want to write your own vows, you should always give the registrar a copy beforehand.

However, if you don’t want the pressure to write your own vows, you can choose from a selection of pre-made vows provided by your registrar.

Even if you don’t write your own vows, you can personalize your ceremony with readings, songs, or music. “Advertise your personality where you can by choosing music that really makes you feel like we had Kings of Leon to play,” says Murphy. “It’s a serious occasion, of course, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too.”