When my sister got married, at the rehearsal the celebrant said he had to be careful what he said and when because if he said 'too much' they would end up married sooner than they planned. Although this was a year or two ago a question has lingered: at what point in a ceremony, taking place in England and Wales, does the marriage become official?
This could affect legal rights such as inheritance in cases where a marriage ceremony was interrupted. For example, if Bob has a heart attack and dies at his marriage ceremony after exchanging vows with Mary but before they both sign the certificate, is Mary legally a widow (wife of the deceased) or would we say that legally the marriage never came into legal existence? What if Bob drops dead after exchanging vows and signing the certificate but before the officiant signs? What if Bob drops dead after all of those things but before the certificate is returned to the courthouse?
I'm not concerned with wedding scenes for TV and film because there are precursor steps leading up to the ceremony that would prevent an 'accidental' marriage. I'm also like to know if there are any differences between marriage and civil partnerships.
All the results my searches have returned are related to what conditions make a marriage legal rather than the point it becomes legal.