Your guide to Civil Ceremonies at Hylands Estate!

Written by Amy Brown

If you’re planning to legally tie the knot at Hylands Estate, but not sure of the requirements then relax, we’ve put together this helpful guide to see you from booked to betrothed!


A civil ceremony is a legally binding marriage without any religious content. It is officiated by a Registrar from the local county council (Essex County Council). Whilst this type of ceremony can take place at a Registry Office, they also take place at approved wedding venues such as Hylands Estate! Although this sounds very formal, you do have the freedom to personalise your ceremony with readings, music and of course, décor! Some couples choose to follow their civil ceremony with a religious ceremony or blessing (performed by a Pastor/Imam/Priest etc). We can help you arrange the timings if this is something you’d like to do.

Matt Chung Photography


Give Notice: Once you have booked your wedding venue, you will need to ‘Give Notice’ to your local register office. You must give notice at least 29 calendar days before your ceremony and you must hold your ceremony within 12 months of giving notice. (If you have booked more than a year in advance you will need to wait to give notice – jump straight to step 2!) You can find your local register office using the Register Office Finder Tool. There is a £35 fee to give notice.

Book a Registrar: You can book your registrar up to 2 years in advance, it’s advisable to book them as soon as possible to ensure you can book your preferred times. Book your Registrar here. Prices range from £610 to £720 depending on the date.

Choose your ceremony requirements: At Hylands Estate you are spoilt for choice when it comes to ceremony rooms!

The Banqueting Room

This beautifully restored room complete with 24carat gold leaf detailing and silk lined walls, can accommodate 100 guests and provides an unforgettable backdrop for your ceremony.

Matt Chung Photography

The Drawing Room

This romantic space is perfect for smaller ceremonies for up to 80 guests, this room boasts a stunning central chandelier, marble fireplace and hand-painted walls.

Matt Chung Photography

The Outdoor Ceremony Garden

A new addition to Hylands Estate, due to open in April 2022, featuring a hand built wooden gazebo nestled into mature woodland. The surrounding space will be filled with seasonal bulbs and shade loving shrubs. The ceremony garden can accommodate 100 guests and will have a built-in sound system.

If you’re planning to have an outdoor ceremony you’ll need to complete the outdoor ceremony agreement form and email it to the registrar at least 10 weeks before your ceremony.  In bad weather your ceremony will need to take place indoors. If there is bad weather on the day, it is up to the registrar to decide whether to hold the ceremony outside.

Matt Chung Photography

Complete your Venue Ceremony Planner: To make your personal choices known to the Registrar you will need to complete a Venue Ceremony Planner and email to the register office at least 10 weeks before your ceremony.

Here you will be able to select your legally binding declarations as well as some additional wording that can be included should you wish. You also need to note down the music that will be played for your entrance, signing of the marriage schedule and recession.

You may also include additional readings from friends and family, these will need to be added to your Venue Ceremony Planner for approval by the registrar.

You have the choice to exchange rings as part of the ceremony and select your preferred words for this traditional aspect too.

Tino Antoniou Photography


When the big day arrives, our Events Team will be on hand to welcome you to the venue and settle you into the Wedding Suite ahead of your civil ceremony. The Wedding Suite comprises of three separate rooms with adjoining bathroom, designed in keeping with the abundant gardens that surround Hylands House. Find out more about the Wedding Suite here.

Interviews: The registrars will arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony is due to commence and will interview both you and your partner ahead of the ceremony.

It is traditional to keep the Bride & Groom apart until the ceremony, and we are very well rehearsed in ensuring you don’t accidentally sneak a peak at your partner before walking down the aisle!

Your Duty Manager will let you know the registrars are ready to interview you and of course if you prefer to do this together, you may. Please let us know your wishes at your final meeting.

Music: At Hylands Estate we have a portable PA system and we are always happy to manage the music for you. If you provide us with an iPad/tablet with a playlist please remember to turn the device onto flight mode and unlock any passcodes (no one wants to receive a notification halfway through Pachelbel’s Canon in D major!).

The traditional order of service:

  • Processional: The bridal party typically walk down the aisle ahead of the Bride. Guests will be asked to stand for the entrances. The Groom and Groomsmen will usually be in the ceremony room ready and waiting. The Bride will generally enter with a loved one before her procession down the aisle. If the Groom doesn’t shed a tear at this point we can arrange a poke in the eye
  • Welcome: A short welcome speech by the registrars.
  • Readings: Any pre-approved readings will be read by your loved ones ahead of the exchange of vows.
  • Exchange of vows: The registrar will lead the reading of the vows whereby the couple commit themselves to one another.
  • Exchange of rings: Whilst this isn’t a legal requirement most couples do opt to do this. The registrar will be handed the rings, usually by the best man, and then in turn the you will place a ring on each other’s finger with a dedicational phrase of your choice.
  • Declaration of marriage: The registrar will officially announce you husband and wife (or wife and wife or husband and husband) and say you may kiss …the audience then give a big round of applause!
  • Signing the marriage schedule: You will be seated behind the head table to sign the marriage schedule, witnesses will be called to stand in attendance. Your photographer will usually take photos here and then invite guests to come forward to take their own.
  • Recessional: Now officially married, you will exit the ceremony to your chosen music. Your guests will be asked to stand and applaud! From here you may go on to have a confetti photo on the East Terrace, followed by couples portraits in and around the venue whilst your guests enjoy  drinks and canapes in the house and back lawn.
Tino Antoniou Photography

Confetti Photo: A fun tradition that marks the end of your civil ceremony and the beginning of your marriage! This tradition can be traced back to the middle ages and is said to bring a lifetime of luck and happiness to the married couple….. we think it also makes the best photo!

Your Duty Manager will lead your guests to the East Terrace and once in position, they will usher you through the Drawing Room and out to the terrace. Responsibility then falls to your photographer to capture the perfect picture!

We simply ask for confetti to be bio-degradable or natural flower petals so that it doesn’t upset the gardens and wildlife.

Benni Carol Photography

Now legally married, we hope you enjoy the day with us at Hylands Estate, it’s an honour to be part of your plans and we promise to help bring your wedding day dreams to life!

To find out how to book your own Hylands Wedding, contact the team on: | 01245 605500 |

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