An English marriage certificate is usually printed on a green or red paper and intricate design is used for security purposes to prevent any forgery attempts. The paper used to produce it is slightly longer and narrower than a normal A4 sized paper. All certificates from July 1837 when civil registration was initiated have more or less the same type of information with the parish marriage register.
A birth certificate is printed on green paper, with an intricate design to prevent forgery. The paper is slightly longer and slightly narrower than an A4 piece of paper.
A marriage certificate dating from any time since July 1 1837, when civil registration began, contains exactly the same information as the parish register entry for a marriage. The certificate shows the district, subdistrict and church where the marriage took place, or the registry
office or other location. It also gives the names of the bride and the groom, and their ages.
Older certificates often say 'of age' meaning that the bride or groom had reached the age of 21, but more modern certificates just give the exact age. There is a column to record the place of residence of the groom and the bride, their occupations and whether they were single or had been married before (and either widowed or divorced).
The most useful information on a marriage certificate for someone doing family history is the names and occupations of the bride and groom's fathers.
The certificate also says whether the marriage took place after the reading of banns or by licence and has the signatures or marks of the bride and groom and at least two witnesses to the marriage.