Civil partnerships

Gone are the days when a civil partnership ceremony meant a quick impersonal service performed at the local register office. You can have so much more.

Find out how to book and plan your civil partnership ceremony, or to convert your partnership into a same sex marriage please see the bottom of this page.

There are lots of things to think about when planning your ceremony. To help, we have outlined everything you need to do in six steps.

6 easy steps to booking your civil partnership

1. Book your venue

With over 70 different licensed venues, ranging from ancient castles to cosy hotels, Northumberland has the perfect venue for you. Use our search venues tool to find the place that suits you best. To help you decide, read our civil partnership brochure and look to see if there are any wedding fairs coming up.

Once you have chosen your venue, book your registrar as soon as possible, even if it is a few years in advance of your ceremony.

2. Book the registrar

Call our ceremony co-ordination team on 01665 602870 to book your registrar. If possible, request alternative dates from your venue just in case your preferred date and time isn’t available.

If you have decided to have a combined naming and civil partnership, please let the registrar know at this point.

When you book the registrar, you will need to pay a non-refundable booking fee, prices are as follows: If you change the date, time or venue of your ceremony, you will need to pay an amendment fee charged at the current rate.

3. Give notice (legal preliminaries)

Giving notice is a legal requirement. By giving notice, partners are legally declaring they intend to form a civil partnership. Both partners must do this individually in the registration district where they live. They must have lived there for at least the past nine consecutive days. The notice can be given a maximum of 12 months before the ceremony but we recommend you do it as soon as possible.

If you live in Northumberland, you will need to give notice at one of our four main register offices in Morpeth, Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham. Please call us 01665 602 870 to make an appointment. If you live outside Northumberland, please contact your local authority.

The appointment will last about 30 minutes for each person and we will need the following information:
  • your name
  • the venue where you intend to have your ceremony
  • documents to prove your identity
    • a valid passport or full birth certificate (showing parents' details)
    • proof of address (a bank statement dated within one month, a utility bill dated within three months or a council tax bill dated within 12 months)
    • if applicable, a decree absolute or death certificate for any previous marriage  (if the divorce was obtained outside of the British Isles, a fee of up to £75 is payable for it to be considered).
    • for a previous civil partnership, we require a dissolution document  (if the dissolution was obtained outside of the British Isles, a fee of up to £75 is payable for it to be considered).
    • any name change document if you have legally changed your name since birth
The fee to give notice is £35 per person.

A notice of civil partnership will be displayed in the Morpeth register office for 28 full days. If we don’t receive an objection, then a schedule will be produced on the 29th day.

4. Plan your day

There are lots of ways to personalise the day of your civil partnership. For inspiration, read our personal touches page. Our wedding brochure features local suppliers, including photographers, musicians, florists and caterers.

The information below does not apply for register office weddings. We will send you a ceremony arrangement pack after your notice of civil partnership to:
  • help you understand what happens on the day
  • show you the structure of the ceremony and the wording used
  • allow you to choose your legal words (we provide you with options)
  • give you ideas for the wording to use when you exchange rings (if you would like to say something)
  • suggest ideas for personal promises you could make to each other
  • advise on how to personalise your service
  • give you tips of what you need to do before the ceremony
  • include a ceremony arrangement form to be completed with your decisions at least six weeks before the ceremony
Please remember that yours is a civil ceremony and there should be no religious content.

5. Pay your fees and return your ceremony form

Return your completed ceremony form to us at least six weeks before the service. Please include any outstanding fees and anything that your conducting registrar will need for the ceremony such as readings. At this point, it is useful for us to know if you would like extra copies of your civil partnership certificate. If so, please let us know on the bottom of your ceremony form.

Return your completed ceremony forms to:

The Ceremony Co-ordination Team
The Register Office
27 Fenkle Street
NE66 1HW
You can pay your fees by:
  • telephone: 01665 602870 by credit or debit card
  • post: you can send a cheque made payable to ‘Northumberland County Council’ to the above address

6. What happens on the day of your ceremony?

You won’t need any paperwork and all fees will have been paid, leaving you to enjoy your day!

The registrar(s) will arrive approximately 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony. They will check last minute arrangements and will speak to anyone playing a part in the ceremony, to ensure everything runs smoothly. You will need someone to act as your witness. We normally ask that an adult sign alongside any witness who is under 16 years of age.

We will speak to your photographer/videographer to confirm we are happy for them to discreetly capture the entire ceremony. The only exception will be the actual signing of the registers, but we will set up a pretend signing immediately after for photographs.

Things to remember:
  • your ceremony should start promptly to ensure our registrars can travel safely to their next wedding
  • we reserve the right to leave your ceremony if we feel the following ceremony will be compromised – this decision will not be taken lightly and we will always consult with you and the venue first
  • bring any of your own promises and readings with you on the day – you could mount them on card and keep them as a memento of your day
  • any music (CD/iPod) should be given direct to the venue

A commemorative certificate is available free of charge at the end of your ceremony on the day.

You will receive your civil partnership certificate after your partnership is recorded in the register. This is done the next working day after your ceremony and the certificate will be posted out to you.
​After the ceremony, we would really like to hear how the day went and how you found our service.

We would be grateful if you could complete the short survey sent out to you in your ceremony pack, or email us on
​Couples are now able to convert an existing civil partnership into a same sex marriage. The process is very simple and only takes about 15 minutes. You will be asked to attend a register office and you will both sign a declaration.

Although there is no statutory ceremony following a conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage, some couples may wish to invite family and friends to join them on the day and include a ceremony to mark the occasion.   

To discuss any aspect of converting a civil partnership into a marriage, including ceremony options and readings to make your day extra special, please contact our ceremony co-ordination team on 01665 602870.

For more information, please read our FAQs here.