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Review of UK marriage laws

Current marriage laws were made way back, with some stretching back to 1836. As a result, their relevance to couples marrying today is limited.

The Law Commission has recently announced a two-year project to review these laws in England and Wales, to bring them up to date. So, what are they going to look at?

At the moment, there are different ways to give notice for different types of wedding ceremony. One suggestion is that everyone getting married will have to give notice to the register office.

Most weddings take place in particular buildings which are designated as wedding venues and the law contains different rules about where a wedding is allowed to take place. The Law Commission will consider whether couples can get married in a much wider choice of venues, in their own home, outside or even on a ship.

Currently the words spoken at a wedding are, in general, pretty specific. But should couples be able to say what they want to express their personal feelings?

Most weddings are either civil or religious, but there is plenty of room for other options, for non-religious organisations and celebrants to conduct a wedding ceremony.

It is unclear in law about the status of a marriage that hasn’t been celebrated in a recognised legally authorised way. This may be addressed to agree minimum requirements to make a marriage legal.

The process of looking at current marriage laws and considering changes will take a least two years, starting with a pre-consultation event then a public consultation in early 2020. However, some of the proposed changes may happen earlier, as the government is considering introducing and option for outdoor locations for civil weddings and civil partnership ceremonies (although venues will still need to be ‘seemly and dignified’).

We’ll be watching with interest, as we have some potentially wonderful outdoor spaces for a wedding (indeed we recently had a ceremony on the lawn!). In the meantime, Escot House is a wonderful, relaxed, exclusive use wedding venue with a licence for civil ceremonies, so why not book a viewing?

If you’d like to find out more about the review, the full details are here:


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