How to Get Married Online in the United Kingdom (Step-by-Step Guide)

December 6, 2023
6 min

With the evolution of technology, couples in the UK now have the option to embark on the journey of matrimony through online marriages. This modern approach streamlines the process, offering a convenient and accessible alternative to traditional ceremonies. The online marriage process typically involves several key steps, ensuring legality and authenticity in the virtual union. 

As we delve into the step-by-step guide for getting married online in the UK, it's essential to understand the legal intricacies, the role of approved wedding venues, and the significance of authorized registrars in this digital matrimonial landscape.

cobblestone alley in the united kingdom

The Legality of Online Marriages in the UK

Before the pandemic, certain jurisdictions had stringent regulations mandating the physical presence of both the officiant and the couple for a marriage to be legally valid. Additionally, couples were required to personally visit the county clerk's office to obtain a marriage license.

Then in 2019, the Utah County marriage license office collaborated with the information technology departments to introduce an innovative, fully digital marriage license application process. This groundbreaking system effectively eliminated the necessity for couples to make physical visits to the office to both acquire and submit their marriage licenses.

A notable aspect of Utah's online marriage procedure is its inclusivity, extending accessibility to individuals irrespective of their place of residence. Generally, marriages legally solemnized in one state are recognized throughout the United States, adhering to both state and federal regulations. Importantly, this implies that a couple who legally marries online through Utah's system will find their marriage acknowledged by other states.

Note that in general, marriages performed legally in one country are widely accepted in most other countries, emphasizing the broader recognition and validity of such unions internationally.

Traditional marriage process in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the traditional marriage process encompasses legal requirements and procedures. Here is a comprehensive guide:

Eligibility Criteria

Individuals in England or Wales can marry if they are 18 or over, not already married or in a civil partnership, and not closely related. Same-sex couples in England or Wales can convert a civil partnership into a marriage.

Same-sex couples can have civil ceremonies but are currently unable to marry in the Church of England and the Church of Wales.

Legal Requirements

Individuals in England or Wales are eligible to enter into marriage or civil partnership if they are:

  • 18 years or older
  • Unmarried
  • not in an existing civil partnership, and
  • not closely related

For same-sex couples in England or Wales, there is the option to convert a civil partnership into a marriage. It's important to note that distinct regulations apply if one intends to marry or form a civil partnership in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or abroad.

Marrying a Foreign National

Non-UK nationals must navigate varying entry requirements. Visa options include the Family of a Settled Person visa or a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa. The process differs for couples from outside the UK and varies by region.

Necessary Documentation

When registering for marriage, essential documents must be provided at the local register office, including:

  • Proof of name
  • Proof of age
  • Any name changes
  • Nationality
  • Address, and
  • If applicable, a decree absolute or final order, death certificate of a former partner, entry visa, and details of the wedding.

Notice and Ceremony

A minimum of 29 days notice is required at the local register office, and the ceremony must be completed within 12 months. Notice can only be given in a registered office after residing in the registration district for at least seven days.

Fees Involved

Visa fees apply for those needing a visa to enter the UK for marriage. Additionally, a notice fee of £35 per person (or £47 for non-EU, EEA, or Switzerland residents) and a marriage certificate fee of £11 are applicable.

Courtly: Simplifying the Online Marriage Process in the UK

Courtly presents a convenient and streamlined solution designed for couples aiming for a simplified marriage process. This innovative platform offers the flexibility for couples to navigate the entire procedure remotely, eliminating the burdensome requirement for extensive documentation. With Courtly's efficient approach, couples can seamlessly and expeditiously acquire a valid U.S. marriage certificate, enhancing the overall ease and convenience of the matrimonial journey.

Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Married Online in the UK with Courtly

Courtly offers couples the flexibility of conducting their entire marriage process online, providing convenience regardless of their geographical location. The process of obtaining a valid U.S. marriage certificate is streamlined and swift, often accomplished within 48 hours, eliminating the need for extensive documentation. Follow this step-by-step guide to utilizing Courtly for your online marriage:

1. Create an Account

Registering with Courtly is a simple process. Click on the "Get Married" icon in the top right corner, follow the provided instructions, and create your account for platform access.

2. Select Ceremony Format, Setting, and Officiant

Take action by choosing the ceremony format, setting, and officiant. Depending on your preferred time and day, Courtly will pair you with a legally qualified U.S. officiant.

3. Make Payment and Wait for Email Confirmation

After completing payment for your selected wedding package, await the confirmation email from Courtly. Detailed information on available wedding packages and add-ons can be found on the Pricing Page.

4. Celebrate Online

Tie the knot online from the comfort of your home or any location with a reliable internet connection. The ceremony typically lasts around 15 minutes. 

Immediately after the online wedding, you'll receive a digital copy of your U.S. marriage certificate, with a printed copy delivered in 1 to 2 weeks. Download your digital marriage license shortly after the ceremony.

Registration of online marriages in the UK

To understand the prerequisites for registering a marriage abroad, the UK provides a useful resource at Marriage Abroad.

For individuals possessing a US marriage license, the recognition of your marriage in the UK is contingent upon:

  • Adhering to the appropriate legal procedures in the USA.
  • Compliance with the regulations stipulated by UK law.
  • There is no obligation to officially register your marriage in the UK.

If your partner lacks British citizenship, they become eligible to apply for British citizenship after residing in the UK for three years.

Note: Courtly cannot and does not provide legal advice in the areas of marriage law. Please contact the officials in your jurisdiction or an immigration or family law attorney to determine the legal status of your remote appearance wedding and any additional steps or documents you may need for recognition.

Apostille certification for online marriage certificates

An apostille serves as a distinctive certification granted by the Secretary of State or the Lieutenant Governor, facilitating the acknowledgment and acceptance of a legal document from one country to another. Securing an apostille for your marriage certificate through Courtly validates it as a legally binding and genuine document, adhering to the standards outlined by The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. This ensures its recognition in countries that are parties to the convention.

Courtly provides the option to obtain an apostille certification for your online marriage certificate. It's essential to be aware that the process of acquiring an apostille and delivering it to the UK post the online ceremony typically spans 15 to 30 business days. This certification significantly reinforces the legality and authenticity of your marriage certificate, making it valid in the UK and any other nation recognizing apostilled documents.

To maintain awareness of the specific requisites and procedures for obtaining an apostille certification in your jurisdiction, it is recommended to stay informed and seek guidance from Courtly or relevant authorities to ensure accurate and current information.

Immigration Recognition of Online Marriages

Policies on online marriages differ significantly among immigration officials, making it essential to be informed. Marriages conducted through platforms like Courtly result in a valid US marriage certificate from Utah County, which is generally recognized by US immigration officials if it complies with federal and state laws. For more details, refer to our article on online marriage acceptance by US immigration authorities.

Internationally, the recognition of online marriage certificates can be inconsistent. While many countries accept marriages legally performed in another country, some immigration officials might view online marriages with skepticism. Proving the authenticity of your relationship is vital for any successful spouse visa application.

The acceptance of virtual weddings by international immigration authorities can change and often depends on specific jurisdictions and circumstances. Due to the complexities and variations in immigration laws, we highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney for accurate and current advice tailored to your situation. This will help you understand the legal status of your online marriage and any necessary documentation for recognition.


The landscape of marriage registration has evolved, with some jurisdictions moving the process online, such as in the UK where legal marriage certificates are now provided to couples after the ceremony. 

For couples contemplating online marriage in the UK, it's essential to navigate the legal requirements and embrace the convenience offered by evolving registration processes. The shift toward online platforms provides flexibility and streamlining, simplifying the journey into marriage. While legalities remain crucial, the opportunity for couples to explore various options, both traditional and modern, allows for a more personalized and convenient matrimonial experience. Engaging in open communication and staying informed about legal nuances will empower couples to embark on their marital journey with confidence and adaptability in this evolving landscape.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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