The Register Office for West Berkshire Council is located on the second floor of Shaw House. All local births and deaths are registered here, we also provide weddings, baby naming and citizenship ceremonies. For more information please contact 01635 279230, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the West Berkshire Registration Service website.
We have three beautiful ceremony rooms which are available on the ground floor at Shaw House, a 16th century building with an abundance of character and set in beautiful grounds.
Our Register Office is ideal for people who want a small, personal ceremony, it is a comfortable space for the two of you and your two witnesses. Or perhaps you have chosen to have a larger celebration elsewhere, at an alternative venue without the legalities. In such circumstances you may wish to take advantage of our Wedding Packages, for which our Register Office is ideal. This room is available on *Wednesday mornings, in which our registrars will conduct a basic ceremony involving mainly the legalities, but you will have the opportunity to exchange rings, should you wish to do so.
Additionally, our larger Ceremony Room accommodates up to 46 guests and gives you the opportunity to have a more detailed ceremony, involving music, extended vows, readings and personal vows. This room is available on *Fridays and Saturdays. Of course, how much or how little you choose to include is largely up to you.
If you are looking for an extra special experience then the Great Hall is the perfect option for larger gatherings, this is a charming room which benefits from a longer aisle and capacity for up to 100 guests. We are able to offer this room at 3pm on a Saturday, subject to availability and other events in the House. Again, we will tailor your extended ceremony to befit your choices and preferences. This is the perfect choice for couples wanting a larger gathering and if you choose this room you will also have the option of booking a drinks reception to follow immediately afterwards. Please discuss this with our registration team at the time of booking.
* or by special arrangement with the Superintendent Registrar.
To help you plan your special day you can take a virtual tour of Shaw House and explore the rooms from the comfort of your home.
Once you have booked your wedding we will send you an information pack, which covers everything you will need to know about your special day and includes a checklist of options and preferences for you to complete. If required, our registration team can talk you through your options and answer any questions you may have. Here are some examples of things you may wish to consider:
Selection of vows
During a civil wedding ceremony you are legally required to say two sets of vows, plus most couples choose to say additional vows when they are exchanging rings. You may wish to say something quite detailed, alternatively you may opt for the shortest thing possible! Whatever your preference, our wedding pack includes a range of options for you to choose from, depending on how extensive you would like your ceremony to be. If you are unsure of anything, the registrar would be more than happy to talk through any concerns or questions you may have on the day, to ensure you are comfortable with your choices.
Personal vows and readings
Additionally, you may wish to further enhance your ceremony by opting to say personal vows to each other, or by selecting some of your guests to do readings. We would recommend no more than 3 readings during a ceremony. Our wedding pack includes a selection of suitable readings, from quite traditional pieces to more modern writings. Alternatively, you may wish to select a reading not from our pack, which is special to you. In the case of both personal vows and readings, you will need to include these in your checklist so that your registrar can plan your ceremony accordingly and supply copies of them prior to the day (readings only if they are not from our pack). Of course, we want your ceremony to be as personal to you as possible, but we do ask that any additional content is befitting to the occasion and contains no inappropriate material and nothing religious.
You are able to select music for your ceremony. We would recommend three pieces; for the bride’s (or couple’s) entrance, the signing of the paperwork at the end of the ceremony and the couple’s exit. You may wish to choose traditional wedding pieces or select something more contemporary that means something to you. Either way, we would ask that you write your choices on your checklist and ensure that your selections are appropriate. The easiest way to manage your music is to bring it in on a phone (or suitable device) which can then be connected to our Bluetooth system. Please note that we ask for your music choices to be included in our checklist so that we can confirm their suitability, not because we are supplying the music itself.
Photography and videos
We want you to have great memories of your day and, for this reason, we are more than happy for you to have your wedding photographed and videoed – either by a professional or a nominated guest. The registrar will talk to your photographer on the day about any stipulations. We do request no additional photography from guests during the actual ceremony as this can be a little off putting for the two of you, but photographs can be taken beforehand and the grounds of Shaw House provide a beautiful backdrop for any photography afterwards.
You will need to select a minimum of two witnesses for your ceremony. These can be friends or relatives but they must be adults able to speak and understand English and they must not be supervising young children or taking photographs. We will ask you to write the names of your witnesses on your checklist and, on the day, the registrar will ask them to sit at the front to ensure they hear everything clearly.
If you have opted for a civil partnership this is largely a paper exercise, completed in the presence of two witnesses. The majority of our civil partnerships are conducted in the Register Office but you may choose to have a commitment ceremony afterwards, either at Shaw House, one of our licensed premises or a completely separate venue. Or you may wish to complete your paperwork in front of your family and friends in which case we would be happy to put an appropriate ceremony together for you.