Outdoor weddings and civil partnership are now permanently available to couples in England and Wales following the introduction of new legislation.
The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 makes previously temporary measures allowing outdoor ceremonies into permanent legislation. It is a ‘statutory instrument’ – the main method by which so-called ‘secondary legislation’ is created in the UK. Secondary legislation is specific laws drafted from the broader principles of ‘primary’ legislation – e.g., acts of Parliament.
The temporary measures had been in place since summer 2021. They were introduced in order to try and encourage a revival in the wedding sector, who had been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously, couples could only marry or enter civil partnerships indoors in certain categories of venue, or within a permanent outdoor structure – for example, a pavilion or bandstand. Now couples can stage a completely outdoor, open air ceremony if they wish.
The official Ministry of Justice announcement explained:
“Couples can now have the whole ceremony outside in the venue’s grounds – providing them with greater flexibility and choice, as well as boosting the recovery of the wedding sector which saw many ceremonies postponed during the pandemic.”
The move follows a public consultation in which an overwhelming majority – 96 per cent – supported a permanent change to the law.