Currently, in our group of C of E churches the bride, groom, witnesses and priest have to sign four copies of the marriage entry, i.e.
- the 2 marriage registers which are kept by the church until they're full, then one is sent to the local register office;
- the marriage certificate which the couple keep;
- the copy of the marriage entry on the return document which is sent to the register office at the end of the quarter.
It used to be the case that all the signatories signed only the 2 registers and the marriage certificate. The quarterly return was filled in afterwards by the church warden, but it has become so difficult to fathom the signatures of the witnesses and indeed of the priest, whose names aren't written out anywhere else, that we get them to sign this form too now.
When you order a copy of a marriage certificate from a register office, it will be taken from the register if it has already been sent in, or from the quarterly returns if it hasn't. If it's from the register, the signatures on the orginal should be genuine, BUT it then very much depends on how your copy of the certificate is created as to whether you see the originals or not. Until relatively recently, all registrars have copied out the details by hand when certificates have been ordered, but some now have the facility to photocopy the original register. It's only if you get a photocopy that the signatures stand a good chance of being those of the bride and groom.