So what’s happening with legal weddings in Cornwall right now?
If, in the next few months, you are due to have your legal wedding ceremony in Cornwall as well as your celebrant wedding ceremony, you are probably far less clear about when your legal wedding might take place!
Head on over to Cornwall Registration Service’s website and as of today, 30 April, you will find:
“Following the announcement by the Prime Minister all ceremonies are now suspended until people movement and social gathering restrictions are lifted.
We appreciate how disappointing this will be for our couples and we will do our very best to help you through this difficult time.
Please do not contact us at this time; we will contact our customers that are affected by this decision and contact will be prioritised by date order of ceremony.
Thank you for your patience.”
And that's all the information there is.
So Cornwall is prioritising those with ceremonies booked up until 7 May, and then will no doubt focus on couples on a month by month basis. But if you check out their Facebook page, they also say their teams are "open for business and ready to take new provisional bookings" - that is to say, brand new bookings - which is confusing and contradictory to the website guidance, to say the least.
For couples whose marriage notice might be expiring soon, there is an extra headache, I am afraid. At this stage, there has been no change in legislation to allow the validity of the notice period to be extended. (You might recall that your notice is only valid for a period of 12 months from the date when you gave it.) If you have to reschedule your legal ceremony to more than 12 months after the date on which you originally gave notice, you will need to give notice AND pay the statutory notice fee again. Gah!!
But first, you are going to have to wait for the current restrictions to be lifted, then make and attend an appointment at a register office to give your notice. Then, as usual, you will need to allow for the notice period of 28 complete days to lapse before your ceremony date. But let's face it, there is going to be such a backlog of ceremonies – I’m sorry to say, it’s going to be really hard to forecast when your legal wedding will happen.
Reading around the subject, I am hearing that many local authorities don’t think they will be conducting ceremonies until September or October. Some local authorities are giving detailed information about what they will and won’t refund, and how existing payments will be honoured. Most local authorities are not open yet to new bookings. Cumbria is a great example of being really proactive in answering questions on the subject.
Obviously these are just my personal musings, as clearly I don’t work for Cornwall or any other local authority. And I know the teams on the ground, those who deliver the ceremonies, are probably working their socks off right now. Hopefully come 7 May, we’ll have some more information. If you are at all concerned, do message or telephone your local Register Officer - ours is 0300 1234 181 and you’ll need to leave a voicemail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck, and keep me posted with how you get on.