The official side of planning a wedding

Gemma Kerr and Andrew Bazeley pictured with registrar Val Dear.
Gemma Kerr and Andrew Bazeley pictured with registrar Val Dear.

“THIS is an important day,” said Gemma Kerr as she prepared to meet the registrar.

This is the moment when Hartlepool’s best known bride-to-be declares her intention to marry.

“This is when it becomes formal,” said Gemma as she embarks on another step of her planning.

Gemma and fiance Andrew Bazeley are inching ever closer to their biggest day - the day when they marry on board HMS Trincomalee in September, after winning the Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.

The services of the registrar are part of a fantastic £13,000 wedding package which the couple are now in the process of putting together.

The register office is part of the registration and service section of Hartlepool Borough Council.

Christine Armstrong, customer and support services manager, said: “It is lovely to think that we are helping a couple to have the ceremony they want, and the day that they want.

“We like to make it as personal as we can for them.”

In the course of last year, the department’s expert and caring staff officiated at 180 marriages, six civil partnerships, three renewal of vows, and one naming ceremony.

Christine added: “Once the couple have decided to get married, they make a decision about the venue for the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.

“There are quite a few choices across the town.”

Couples can book their day up to 12 months in advance or a minimum of 16 days ahead of their momentous occasion.

Once notice is given, it is placed on noticeboards for a set period.

Nearer to the day, register office staff will meet with the couple to discuss the finer details of their service such as whether they want readings or any particular type of music. They can ask friends and family to say something for their big day.

Christine added: “If someone wants something a bit different, that is fine. We shall try and do what we can for them as long as it is within the realms of the law.”

Bride-to-be Gemma, a mum to six-year-old Madeline, will marry husband-to-be Andrew, a Hartlepool refuse collector, in early September in the Captain’s Cabin on board HMS Trincomalee.

Gemma told how her six-year-old daughter Madeline was the inspiration behind mummy becoming Hartlepool’s new champion.

She said her daughter spent time writing down the things that she and fiance Andrew could say to the Bride of the Year judges on the finals night - and her words of inspiration paid dividends.