Currently, for a marriage to be legally valid in England and Wales, couples are required to attend a ceremony in a licensed venue, for example, a registry office, a local authority approved hotel, a building of the Church of England or Wales or a premises that has been certified as a place of worship, such as a military chapel.
In the October 2018 budget, the Government announced that it had asked the Law Commission to propose options for a simpler and fairer system to give couples looking to marry, a more ‘meaningful’ choice.
It is becoming increasingly popular for couples to plan a wedding ceremony that is more flexible and tailored to their particular requirements, providing the freedom of being able to get ‘married’ at any venue of their choice. However, ‘humanist’ marriages are not legally recognised in England and Wales and require the bride and groom to have a ‘traditional’ ceremony in a licensed venue, usually a registry office, in the days before or after their wedding.
The laws surrounding marriage venues in Scotland are a little less rigid, although the couple must agree with the celebrant where the marriage will take place.
It is hoped that the review will promote a greater choice of wedding venues, enabling people to exchange their vows on the beach or even in their own home. Relaxing the restrictions could make marriage a more affordable option and also boost the hospitality trade as restaurants and pubs are able to offer their premises as an alternative setting, whilst retaining the dignity of marriage ceremonies.
For more information and advice, please contact our Licensing team on 01332 340 211 or email: LicensingDept@flintbishop.co.uk.