Differences between marriage and civil partnership

In a marriage you become a husband or a wife, while in a civil partnership you become a civil partner.

Marriage requires a verbal contract, in which the couple say their chosen legal words. Civil partnerships require the couple to legally sign a schedule, which forms the legal partnership. You can have a civil partnership with a ceremony at which you can choose to say vows.

Both marriage and civil partnerships need to be witnessed.

Marriage ceremonies can be held at a licensed venue or register office, or a religious building. Civil partnerships can be registered at a licensed venue or register office. Some religious buildings can also register civil partnerships.

When you’re deciding whether to get married or enter a civil partnership, we suggest you seek legal advice before picking which is the best for you.

Read the gov.uk guide on marriage and civil partnerships