Did you know that there are laws which dictate where and how you can get married?
These outdated laws were originally formed in 1836 and most of them still exist today - unbeknownst to many soon-to-be-wed couples. But recent proposals for reform look set to abolish many of the old laws and make it not only easier to get married - but cheaper to do so, too.
Perhaps most exciting is the fact that, should the new laws come into effect, you’ll have a far easier time choosing the perfect wedding venue.
What are the current wedding laws in the UK?
It’s hard to believe we’re still abiding by wedding laws which came into effect in 1836, but that’s currently the reality if you want to get married in the UK.
There are no two ways about it; the rules are incredibly outdated. For instance:
- you have to choose between either a civil or a religious ceremony;
- you can’t opt for a ceremony which reflects other beliefs;
- you can’t legally marry outdoors (even within the grounds of a licensed venue);
- you have to get married in a registered building, be it a place of worship or licensed secular venue; and
- there are a number of legal requirements within the marriage process which don’t work well for some religions (often, they’re accidentally missed, thus inadvertently voiding the marriage).
Were you aware of all of these laws?
They apply to weddings in England and Wales and are massively out of step compared to the more modern rules in place in the likes of Ireland and Scotland.
What are the new wedding laws?
The new laws haven’t been put into practice yet, but at the time of writing, the UK Law Commission has finished researching the options and has presented a bunch of recommendations for public consultation.
- the option to get married outdoors on beaches, parks, and private gardens (or, yes, even the grounds of a licensed wedding venue);
- a wider variety of buildings in which couples can get married, including cruise ships and private homes;
- greater flexibility when it comes to the form of the wedding ceremony, enabling couples to combine religious and non-religious elements, for instance;
- a reduction of red tape to make the marriage process easier to follow;
- the ability to provide the initial notice of an intention to marry online or by post, rather than having to do so in person;
- a framework for non-religious organisations such as Humanists to conduct legally recognised wedding ceremonies; and
- allowance for remote weddings.
These are welcome changes, not least because they’ll ensure pretty much anyone can get legally married, however they choose to do so, because they’re in love and want to be married. We think that’s how it should be!
However, the proposed law changes do also open up a wealth of new options for potential wedding venues. As we all know, this is often one of the hardest elements to settle on, and one of the most expensive.
Frustratingly, it’s usually expensive simply because couples have to get married in specific types of venue. But if those restrictions are lifted, the world’s your oyster.
A case in point: Selfridges has recently paved the way for retailers to become temporary wedding venues. So, if you’re looking for a completely unique wedding venue, you could be in for a wave of the most unusual options to choose from.
A huge weight off your shoulders
There’s a strong chance most of these proposed new wedding rules will come into effect relatively soon. Indeed, the need for more flexibility surrounding remote weddings during a pandemic are sorely needed and will provide plenty of relief for lots of couples.
But we cannot overemphasise how exciting the rules changes could be for wedding venue options. No longer will weddings conducted outside or within non-licensed buildings be technically null-and-void. If you’re planning on getting married, that means you can probably get married anywhere without having to get married again afterwards.
This should leave you with plenty more time to focus on the details that matter - such as all of the items you might need to hire to ensure the day goes by smoothly.
That’s where we come in!
If the proposed new marriage laws in England have got you excited, remember to add Plato to your list of contacts when you start planning your big day.