A popular registrar from the City of York, Robert Livesey, who has presided over the weddings of more than than 20,000 couples in 25 years is finally saying goodbye to it all.

Livesey on Friday conducted his final wedding at Grays Court Hotel, with his retirement officially beginning later this month.

The well known registrar nicknamed ‘Lord of the Rings’ says it has been an enjoyable career, with the memorable highlights of his job being his appearance on the front page of the Manchester Evening News when he conducted the wedding of his mother Barbara, marrying a couple live on Sky News in the clothes section of Asda, and presiding over a ghoulish wedding at York Maze.

"I must have married half of York," he said, "I didn't choose it as a career path, I fell into it and I have loved it from day one. It's the people you deal with, it's interesting."

"I still believe in the institution of marriage although it would be easy to be cynical about it. I have married one woman about five times in the time I have been here but I think 99 per cent of people go into it with their eyes open."

Robert since arriving from Manchester 25 years ago as the country's youngest Superintendent and has worked at the York Register Office since then.

According to The Press, Robert began his career in Manchester when he became a registrar starting on births, deaths and marriages.

It was gathered that he stayed in the city for 11 years, and recalls a particularly memorable Sikh ceremony where the groom arrived late, on an elephant.

Moving to York, Robert honed his skills as a senior registrar, preferring to take a more personal approach to ceremonies.

"When I came here there were six staff and it was as if they had been pickled," he said, "I was only 32 and I thought, 'what have I done'?

But, he said, he went on to love it. "There are 12 staff now. The thing I will miss is the people and the staff because my staff are brilliant."

The law changed in 1995 to allow civil weddings in approved premises other than the register office which saw him conducting ceremonies in a variety of premises and he also saw the rules change to allow civil partnerships for gay couples and then marriage.

Robert recalls marrying  one couple at the top of the York wheel, with guests watching via video link at the National Railway Museum and also married the former chief executive of City of York Council, Kersten England.

The wedding in Asda in York in 2004 was the first time a couple in Britain had tied the knot in a supermarket, he believes – and the press and TV gathered in strength to witness it. The bride had worked on the check outs and married a regular customer.