There has been a lot of noise recently about potential changes to wedding ceremony laws in England and Wales. So, we thought it would be a good idea to pull together a handy guide on the proposals and how they might impact you!
The Background to Current Wedding Laws
Until today, you could only get legally married in England and Wales in licensed premises or a church / chapel.
What is a licensed premise? Per the legal wording, a permanent structure with a roof and holds the relevant license! So, this includes registry offices, stately homes, as well as, summerhouses and gazebos.
However, outdoor weddings are growing in popularity. Yvonne Beck Ceremonies, one of our awesome supplier tribe members, let us know that over 75% of her ceremonies are now outside. But remember that currently you can’t get legally married on a beach, in a forest, in a field, by a stream, by the sea, in your back garden, on a boat…….
It’s worth noting that in Scotland, humanist weddings have been legal since 2005 and are also rising in popularity.
So How Does It Work Now? I See Lots Of People Having Outdoor Ceremonies already?
Yes, you do because most of these are done by Celebrants. We love celebrants here at Unconventional Wedding because they offer such flexibility to give you the wedding ceremony you want. Often a lot of Celebrant ceremonies are already held in licensed wedding venues as more and more couples look for something different.
So, many couples have been doing the personalised wedding vows, quirky locations, dramatic settings …. and doing the legal bit in the days before. A lot of couples don’t mind doing the necessaries beforehand but it can split your wedding celebrations. I’ve also seen family tensions when guests realise they aren’t at the ‘actual’ wedding ceremony.
With increasing demand for outdoor ceremonies Celebrants are the perfect enabler for your wedding day. And they have no time restrictions either (well if it’s reasonable!). So if you want that starlit outdoor wedding ceremony you can have that too!
Here’s some of the wedding ceremonies our supplier tribe members who are Celebrants have been involved in
So, what do the changes mean to me?
The budget referred the current wedding laws to the Law Commission for them to conduct a review – this could take around 18-24 months. This review aims to promote a greater choice of wedding venues due to ‘outdated’ laws about how and where couples can marry.
Unfortunately, the steps announced don’t mean you can now have a celebrant marry you anywhere, but they are a step in the right direction. Anything that gives couples more choices for their wedding is good!
Please always check the full legal guidance for planning your wedding – the devil is in the detail!
Will the changes to wedding laws go far enough?
Well at this point in time we simply don’t know! One thing is for sure is that the rigidity in the legal wedding structure isn’t going to disappear overnight. Bringing England & Wales into line with Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey & Ireland where humanist marriages are legal would be a start. So, we will wait and see what transpires over the next couple of years.
We do know that more and more couples are looking for choices when planning their wedding day. Celebrants remain the way forward to give you exactly what you need.
Featuring our Celebrant & Venue Supplier Tribe members
Over on the blog - our guide to having a celebrant at your wedding day
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