The Law Commission has launched a consultation on possible reforms to marriage law which would allow couples a greater choice of venues and ceremonies.
Announcing the consultation, the Commission explained:
“The main law which governs marriage is from 1836 and has failed to keep pace with modern life. How and where marriages can take place is tightly regulated, and differs depending on the type of wedding. At present, couples have to make a choice between a religious or a civil ceremony, with no option for a ceremony reflecting other beliefs. Couples having an Anglican wedding can give notice to the church; all other couples must give notice at the register office.”
If the reforms under consideration do reach the statute books, couples marrying in England and Wales will be able to hold wedding ceremonies outdoors, in parks, on beaches and even at home in their own gardens. Currently couples must stage their weddings inside an officially registered building such as a registry office, church or other place of worship. Even the garden of a church is not permitted, and they face a binary choice of a religious or civil ceremony, with nothing else permitted. Non-religious organisations, such as Humanist UK, cannot conduct weddings for members.
In general, the Commission hopes to simplify the process of getting married and reduce the number of couples who fail to complete all the requirements correctly and end up without the protections and rights of a legally valid marriage. There would no longer be a need to give notice in person: instead the couple could do so online or via post.
The Law Commission is an independent organisation established by Parliament to review legislation and recommend reform. Responses are invited via its website until December 3. The resulting report, with the Commissions’ recommendations, will be published in the second half of 2021.
Read more here.