Freedom for Couples to Choose Where They Marry

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The Law Commission has begun reviewing the current laws on how and where couples can get married. As many couples have experienced through the COVID-19 pandemic, the laws governing marriage are outdated and unnecessarily restrictive.

The Commission aims to modernise the laws to give couples greater freedom over where they can get married. The proposals will consider how to remove any unnecessary red tape which restricts choice and increases the cost of venues. It will also aim to ensure that the law can work for all couples and all faiths.

The current laws governing weddings, originally formed in 1836 are old fashioned and therefore no longer meet the needs of many couples. For example, couples must currently choose between a civil or religious ceremony and to get married, couples must get married in a registered building, place of worship or licensed venue.

The provisional proposals for reform are:

  • To allow weddings to take place outdoors, for example on beaches, in parks, private gardens and on the grounds of current wedding venues.
  • To allow weddings in a wider variety of buildings (for example in private homes) and on cruise ships.
  • To offer couples with greater flexibility over the form their wedding ceremony will take, enabling couples to have a variety of ceremonies (religious or non-religious).
  • To simplify the process and remove any restrictions to make it fair to couples, more efficient and easier to follow. For example, couples will be able to complete the initial stage of giving notice of their intended wedding online or by post, rather than having to do so in person.
  • To provide a power to allow weddings to take place remotely during any future national emergency, for example, another pandemic.
  • Whether specific vows should be required during a ceremony.

The Law Commission will be consulting on the proposals until the 3rd December 2020. They will then publish a final report, with recommendations to the government, in the second half of 2021.

The Law Commissioner Nick Hopkins said:

“A couple’s wedding day is one of the most important events in their lives. Our project aims to bring the 19th-century law up to date and make it more flexible, giving couples greater choice so they can marry in a way that is meaningful to them.

“We look forward to continuing our work in this area.”

Our Family solicitors are here to help you with all aspects of family law. For more information, you can contact us on 0161 941 4000 or via email.

Freedom for Couples to Choose Where They Marry