1 Possibly the Least You Can Spend on Getting Legally Married in Great Britain | The Billfold

Possibly the Least You Can Spend on Getting Legally Married in Great Britain

My husband and I got married last July. We wore jeans to the registry office, and except for the three friends who were our witnesses, no one knew anything about it until it was over. For us, it was perfect. As a side effect, it was also ridiculously cheap.

Going out and getting a bit drunk, ending up accidentally getting engaged at a bus stop at 2 a.m. £67 ($111.44)

Smoked salmon bagels at the 24-hour bakery, in a newly-engaged daze. £4.80 (7.98)

Hangover breakfast the next morning. £18 (29.94)

“Do you remember what we talked about last night?”
“Marry me. No, really!”

Total engagement cost: £89.80 ($149.36)


We started the planning 10 days later once we realized we couldn’t think of a single reason not to go through with it. In the end we were engaged for 32 days, mainly because the British system has a 16-day waiting period for marriage permits.

Mandatory “notice of intent” appointment with the local council to get a marriage permit: This also served to verify our identities and making sure we’re not already married, and/or brother and sister. £60 ($99.80)

Hiring a room for 15 minutes at the Town Hall, with a marriage official and registrar. (This is the Thursday rate; Saturdays cost more.) £79 ($131.40), or £5.80 ($9.66) per minute.

“Rings! We should get rings!” … We got titanium bands online, and they showed up two days before the ceremony. This was the only thing we bought that we didn’t strictly need. £54.75 ($91.07)

Bus fare to the Town Hall on the day: £2.80 ($4.66)

Pub lunch afterwards: Free, paid for by our wedding guests.

Cards, stamps and printing of photos for the thank you notes: £36 ($59.88)

Replacement ring when my husband left his in a hotel bathroom six months later: £25 ($41.58) … Somewhere out there a crooked and/or underpaid hotel employee is trying to sell that ring, only to be told it’s not platinum but titanium, hence it’s essentially worthless. Except as a symbol, that is.

Total wedding cost: £257.55 ($428.38)


Jessica Furseth is a freelance journalist living in London. She has a Tumblr.


17 Comments / Post A Comment

kellyography (#250)

This sounds awesome, except my entire family would disown me if I got married without them there, much less without letting them know!

halloliebchen (#5,373)

@kellyography Same. I am currently arguing with my mother about whether or not I have to have TWO weddings – one in Europe and one in the US. This would not fly with her.

@kellyography Same! I’d love nothing more than to get a couple close friends together in my city (we’re all pretty far apart) and get married on the sly. My mother has made it clear, though, that I can do whatever I want with my life but I am not to get married without her present.

WriteBikeBobbi (#3,938)

My husband and I paid $10 in Colorado at the court house, promised we weren’t brother and sister, self-solemnized the marriage license, and done! Married. Zero stress. Did our families love it? No. Was it their call to make? Nope.

garli (#4,150)

@WriteBikeBobbi Dang, you got me beat. It was either 40 for the license and 80 for the clerk to marry us or the other way around because in California you can’t self-solemnize.

WriteBikeBobbi (#3,938)

@garli Well, that’s CA for you right? Yet still cheaper than the $20-30K we’ve seen friends drop on weddings. I know the super-simple approach isn’t for everyone. But for where we were at in our lives, it made sense and made us happy, and it wasn’t a decision based solely on the fact that we were quite poor, either. And not having a wedding hasn’t made our marriage any less joyful. Five and a half years, and I have not once regretted that we simply went to the courthouse, and then went on a beautiful hike in the southwest and said our vows in hiking boots :-)

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@WriteBikeBobbi this is my kinda wedding.

garli (#4,150)

@WriteBikeBobbi Yeah and cheaper than a trip to Co to do the paperwork on the cheap. :)

ATF (#4,229)

This is timely. The enginerd and I have decided to get married this summer. Our engagement went like this:

Scene: waiting for the check after dinner on our two year anniversary.

Me: we should probably figure out when we’re going to get married.

Him: this summer?

Me: that works for me.

Him: well there we go.

Now we have four months to control my mother and somehow merge her instance that we HAVE to have a wedding with my complete and utter disinterest in all things wedding. And this needs to be done cheap because I live in boston and we’re pretty set on buying next year. So all extra monies need to go to the down payment. And we’re well into our thirties, so I do not want my parents to pay for anything. They are teachers nearing retirement.

WriteBikeBobbi (#3,938)

@ATF Congrats! If you know a weddingy-wedding is not for you, then I’ll say to you what I have said to pals in the same situation, dreading the wedding planning, financing, family drama, etc: It’s not about them and what they want. It’s about the two of you. Your day. Your choice. Do what will make you happy.

garli (#4,150)

@ATF Whew, good luck with that. Have you talked to your mom about it at all? Does she know you’re getting married this summer?

honey cowl (#1,510)

I am not quite this laid back about the whole thing! I’m impressed that you are!

jquick (#3,730)

Hubby and I went to the county courthouse while on holiday. Later, he asked if I wanted something more romantic. Are you kidding? What we did was the most romantic. How many women would still get married if they weren’t a princess for a day? If they weren’t the center of attention? If they weren’t getting a bunch of gifts? How many would still get married if it’s just the 2 of them, and just because they want to?

baf (#5,342)

I got married with 4 people as witnesses (2 of my friends and 2 of his), cost about $250 Canadian total. Only because we got a rush on the marriage certificate. It was also in a ladies random living room, and there were swords on the wall. I wore a lace dress and the hubby said it looked like I was wearing underwear (a la Rachel on Friends, it’s big in Europe, America, not ready!).
I’m sure we are going to need to do a big party at some point, but the numbers are looking like 120 people minimum and that makes me feel a bit sick.

JessicaFurseth (#6,234)

Thanks for the comments guys! I wondered beforehand whether I’d regret not making a bigger deal out of the day, but afterwards it just felt like that was it. Married!

I don’t think either of our families were too crazy about our choice though, although they have been gracious not to complain. But I don’t think it would have been possible to pull off in this manner had we not kept it completely under wraps.

Jull (#5,296)

Nice article, just what I would prefer, instead of all those formalities, ceremonies and covering costs with borrowed money, I would also be glad to share my holiday only with the immediate friends and spend money on some honey-moon trip instead.

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