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UK Wedding Law Set To Change

Author: Carrie O’Donnell

Law Commission call for a revival of outdated wedding laws in the UK

Many of the current wedding laws that are in place date back to 1836, so as you can imagine are quite outdated. The Law Commission of England and Wales has made an exciting announcement this morning which could allow couples to have more choice on the location of their wedding, whether it’s on a beach, in a park or even in their own back garden.

The Law Commission are currently conducting a public consultation on the provisional proposals to update the Marriage Act, wedding laws, and are seeking views on what people think about these proposed changes which is due to finish in December 2020.

So What Is The Marriage Act?

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The current marriage act 1949 governs all weddings that take place within England and Wales, and is a complex set of rules for different types of ceremonies and where they can take place. For the past two centuries, there have been many social changes that have seen our society become more culturally and religiously diverse, with more people wanting to celebrate their weddings in unique ways. This is why the Law Commission feels that there is a need to update these wedding laws and for these social changes to be taken into account.

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Proposed New Laws For Weddings In The Future

Some of the proposed changes include the following:

  • Allowing couples to give notice for their wedding remotely and choose the registration district where their face-to-face interview will take place.
  • Provides a framework to allow celebrants or non-religious belief organisations to conduct legally binding weddings
  • Allows couples to choose where their wedding takes place, without unnecessary restrictions and costs. This would allow them to take place on a beach, in private grounds or even in their own house.
  • Allow all couples and religious groups to choose the form their wedding ceremonies will take.

What Will Change?

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Currently, couples can only get married in registered venues and structures by religious figures or two registrars from the registry office the couple has given notice. The proposed changes would allow couples to get married anywhere indoors or outdoors and without prolonged notice periods. This could even mean marrying in the night and at relatively short notice (28 days). We don’t think many wedding venues will suffer under these proposed changes. Most couples still want a wonderful place to host their ceremony and reception with loved ones as well as the all-important photo backdrop.

What it does allow is for couples to personalise their vows and include religious content if they so wish without the law dictating what needs to be said to make the marriage legal.


“A couple’s wedding day is one of the most important events in their lives, yet the 19th-century laws are not fit for purpose and stop many couples having a wedding that is meaningful and personal to them. Our proposals would give couples the freedom to choose the wedding venue they want and a ceremony that is meaningful for them. By doing so, we hope to make the laws that govern weddings reflect the wishes and needs of today’s society.”  Prof Nick Hopkins, Law Commission


We think this is really positive news and will allow couples the freedom to be creative within their wedding planning and open up wider possibilities on where they choose to get married and by whom. The consultation by the Law Commission is due to end on 3rd December 2020 with a report due by the end of 2021. So if you have ever dreamed of getting married on your favorite ride at Alton Towers or on a boat off the coast, it could all be possible, just watch this space!

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Written by

Carrie O’Donnell

Carrie is a Marketing and Events specialist with over ten years’ experience working in the wedding industry, creating marketing strategies and coordinating events for a range of venues. She is also a professional pianist and plays piano for weddings, private events, in fine dining restaurants, and has played in many luxury venues around the UK. She has a love of…

Learn more about Carrie O’Donnell