Commission to Review Wedding Venue Laws

The law commission is conducting a 2-year review into “outdated” wedding venue rules which could give couples more choice on where they get married.  Only a venue pre-approved by a local council can legally hold wedding ceremonies and the commission will look at whether this reflects modern British society or not.

It means that a couple may be able to get married in a back garden or in their own home.  

An overhaul of the current law would be good news for anyone planning a wedding after the 2-year review is up. Wider choice would allow for greater personalisation of the wedding ceremony.  It’s not everyone who wants to be married in a church, hotel or country house.  It is also likely to make ceremonies more cost-effective. Music to anyone’s ears when you consider that the average cost of a UK wedding venue is now over £4,000.

Currently, ceremonies held in non-approved locations or outdoors are not legally binding.  Couples have to formalise their wedding either by visiting a registry office (before or after the ceremony) or hold a civil ceremony elsewhere.

It’s the local council who ensures that a venue meets the criteria to be a wedding venue.  There are a number of safety and fire regulations that must be adhered to.  The venue must also be available regularly for public wedding ceremonies: you can’t just get a one-off licence for a ceremony in your garden, for example.  The room where the ceremonies will take place must be inside the building.  If an outdoor structure is permanent, then it’s possible to be approved then (and many wedding venues do have an outside space).  If it’s a temporary structure, however, then the council won’t authorise it.

“Cutting the red tape” and giving couples a wider range of choice on where to get married can only be a good thing and especially for LGBTQ couples as many are barred from religious services by the opt-out clause in the equal marriage act.

Recently, the UK Government has also said that it will look into legalising humanist wedding ceremonies.  It’ll be interesting, therefore, and quite the shakeup, if both these changes were introduced.  

The commission has said that it will also speak to faith leaders and those involved in the wedding industry to ensure that a greater range of choice will still “retain the dignity” of the marriage service.

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