Outdated Wedding laws of England and Wales face overhaul

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Outdated Wedding laws of England and Wales face overhaul

At Stella Maris Solicitors LLP, we can assist you with any family law issues you may have. Understanding the new changes to the Wedding Laws of England and Wales is important if you are planning a wedding during Covid-19, or even in the next few years, and wish to be clear on what is permitted.

The new reforms to marriage regulations in England and Wales aim to be more reflective of the social changes the UK has experienced since the 1983 Marriage Act was introduced. The Law Commission will conduct a two-year review of marriage ceremonies in order to “cut back red tape”[1] and allow greater choice surrounding one’s wedding day.

The Law Commission aims to:

  • Consider where a wedding should be able to take place
  • Consider how to remove barriers that hamper choice and increase the cost of wedding venues
  • Ensure the law works for all couples and faiths
  • Make the law simpler and more certain to ensure that it is clear whether a couple’s marriage is legally valid[2]

The new proposals should give couples “the freedom to choose the wedding venue they want, and a ceremony that is meaningful for them”[3], with the changes allowing a greater choice of wedding location and the option of being married outdoors. As it stands, only Jewish and Quaker weddings are permitted to take place outside. However, this new development means that even cruise ships could become legitimate venues.

Another potential reform is a new legal framework that allows non-religious belief organisations to conduct legally binding weddings. Currently, couples must choose between a civil or religious ceremony, restricting to some extent how much the ceremonies can be personalised.

The principles the Law Commission will be focusing on are:

  • Certainty and simplicity
  • Fairness and equality
  • Protecting the state’s interest
  • Respecting individuals’ wishes and beliefs
  • Removing any unnecessary regulation of venues which can hamper choice and increase the cost for couples

The Law Commission is set to begin its work on the project and it is expected to last two years.

For professional legal advice on any family law matter, please contact our team at Stella Maris Solicitors LLP on 01793680053 or visit our website for more details on how we can help you.


[1]https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/marriage-permit-rules-home-wedding-sea-hammond-budget-a8978906.html

[2]https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/law-commission-begins-work-on-weddings-reform/

[3]https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/03/outdated-weddings-laws-of-england-and-wales-face-overhaul-law-commission-location-ceremony

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