Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

What information can be found on a marriage certificate?


Marriage records are extremely helpful for building your family history. Search the marriage indexes online, find your ancestors, and then note down the details you need to order a copy of the marriage certificate.

The marriage indexes can tell you the following about your ancestor:

  • First name and surname of the bride and groom
  • Year the marriage was registered
  • Quarter the marriages was registered (March, June, September or December)
  • Name of the registration district
  • Volume and page number

These are all very useful for helping to pinpoint your ancestors’ marriage so that you can order the marriage certificate.

Marriage certificates for England & Wales

The cheapest website to buy a copy of an English or Welsh marriage from is the official government website, www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates. Each certificate costs £9.25 (be wary of sites charging more than this). This may sound a lot of money, but a marriage certificate should also name the fathers of the bride and groom and their occupations and so give you clues to another generation further back on your family tree.

     MORE: Why send for a death certificate?

The main body of the certificate as it was introduced in 1837 in England and Wales has remained unchanged to this day. It is identical in content wherever the marriage took place; exactly the same forms are used by the C of E, Protestant Nonconformists, Roman Catholics, Jews and Quakers and indeed by the local registration service for civil ceremonies. The wording at the top and towards the bottom of the certificate varies slightly depending on the denomination and tells you where, how and by whom the marriage ceremony was performed. 

The information on an English or Welsh marriage certificate includes:

  • When married
  • Name and surname of bride and groom
  • Age
  • Condition (marital status)
  • Rank or profession
  • Residence at the time of marriage
  • Fathers’ names
  • Rank or profession of fathers
  • Names of witnesses

Marriage certificates for Scotland

Registration of marriages in Scotland began on 1 May 1855 and, as with the associated records of births and deaths, the amount of information recorded is far greater than in England and Wales. In that golden first year of registration, the birthplaces of the bride and groom were recorded as well as the number of former marriages and the number of children from those marriages. These details were dropped from 1856 but the certificates still continued to record the names of both parents, including the maiden names of the mothers. Visit www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

Marriage certificates for Ireland

Registration of all non-Roman Catholic marriages commenced on 1 April 1845 but all other marriages weren’t recorded by the state until 1 January 1864, when the full general registration system came into force. For the Republic of Ireland order certificates from www.groireland.ie and for Northern Ireland go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/gro.

Your FREE Family Tree Notebook...

Get your hands on our Family History Notebook, a handy resource to help you keep track of your findings with charts and research logs. Simply sign up to receive our free monthly emails (packed full of even more advice) and you'll receive a link direct to your inbox to download your notebook. 

Tracing your family history is a hobby which will give you many years of enjoyment, and with our expert tips, it’s easy to get started today.

Back to "Getting Started" Category

01/11/2016 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Charles Booth Poverty Maps of London added to TheGenealogist's Map Explorer

TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer now includes a feature that allows users to access Charles Booth's ...

3 key resources for today's genealogist; what to look for & where to find them

Are you just starting your family history, or wishing to brush up on your online research know-how? Our 3 key ...

How to create a family tree chart

Find out which family tree chart is best for you, whatever stage you’re at with your family history research, ...

Making a Mayflower 400 pilgrimage

Four centuries ago the Mayflower Pilgrims set sail for the New World. Discover must-see places to include ...

Other Articles

Which family tree chart should I use?

Confused about the many different genealogy charts that are available? Here's our expert help! ...

Boris Johnson is related to ten US presidents

New research by Gary Boyd Roberts of American Ancestors explores the family tree of UK prime minister Boris ...

FamilySearch users can now correct name indexing errors

FamilySearch have today (31 July) announced a new facility that allows users to make name corrections to its ...

DNA classes at RootsTech London: guest blog

If you are joining us in London for RootsTech this October, now is the time to start organising your ...