The Law Commission has launched a review of regulations surrounding wedding ceremonies in England and Wales, some of which date back almost 200 years.
The review, scheduled to run for two years, will focus on whether existing restrictions on where marriages can take place should be maintained or more choices made available. Currently, wedding ceremonies can only be held in:
- registry offices
- premises which have been specially approved for weddings – for example hotels
- churches operated by Church of England or its counterparts the Church in Wales and the Church of Ireland, as well as Presbyterian or Roman Catholic churches in Northern Ireland (opposite sex couples only)
- a synagogue or other private places if both partners are Jewish
- a Meeting House if one or both partners are associated with the Society of Friends (Quakers)
- other registered religious buildings (England and Wales only)
- a private home when one partner is housebound or detained
- a hospital or other medical establishment place when one partner is seriously ill
- a licensed naval, military or air force chapel
The Law Commission is a government body which reviews legislation and recommends reform. This is the first time it has examined wedding legislation. A greater variety of available venues, which could include private homes, might mean lower costs for the couples in question and a greater ability to design ceremonies that are personally meaningful.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The vital institution of marriage is a strong symbol of wider society’s desire to celebrate commitment between partners. But we can do more to bring the laws on marriage ceremonies up to date and to support couples in celebrating their commitment. This review will look at how we can ensure marriage keeps pace with modern Britain.”
The government is also moving forward with a separate initiative to allow non-religious weddings and civil partnership ceremonies to be held outdoors.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this review, please feel free to contact Tricia, Adam, Simon, Jeremy, Gail or Sue on 01223 443333.