Imagine if you could be legally married ANYWHERE!

Setting the scene

Where would your dream location be, to have your wedding ceremony? In the middle of a forest? On the beach? On the side of a mountain? In your back garden? In a wonderful old country house that just simply doesn’t have a licence for legal marriage ceremonies?

Let’s set the scene, whichever location you have in your mind….it’s the day of your wedding. All your guests are arriving – what’s the weather like? Bright, beautiful sunshine? There’s a buzz of conversation and gentle laughter as everyone takes their seats…are they sitting on immaculate pristine white chairs? or hay bales covered with gorgeous blankets or throws? You’re partner is there waiting for you (or maybe you’re going to walk down the aisle together; or maybe there’s no aisle at all!). 

The ‘legal bit’

However you’ve got your ceremony planned out, you’re doing all of this because you want to be married to one another. At the time of writing, in England and Wales, to be legally married, you have to have your ceremony in a ‘licensed venue’ or ‘approved premises’, which could be a church, a register office or another property such as a local hotel or a county house, that holds a licence for performing legal marriage ceremonies. And you have to have the designated ‘proper person’ to conduct the ceremony (whether it’s a Priest or a Registrar). This means that the wonderful ceremony location you have just been thinking about that’s in your garden, or on the beach, can happen, but you won’t be legally married at the end of it. Now, you can do the legal bit quite easily and cheaply at the register office either before or after that dream ceremony location – think of it like registering the birth of a baby….having a baby is the main event, and then you go afterwards to the Register office to legally register the birth. In a similar way, that’s exactly what you can do when you have your wedding ceremony ina location that isn’t necessarily licensed.

So, it’s all good right? We can just have our dream wedding ceremony in our dream location,  with a celebrant and then go and do the legal bit either before or after at the register office? Yes you can…..BUT wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t need to do that bit?! if you could actually have your dream wedding location AND be legally married at the end of the ceremony? If the person marrying you held the legal licence, not the venue?

A little bit of history

We’re having to work with the licensed venue system because that’s what was enshrined in law with The Marriage Act 1994…which in turn has it’s roots firmly linked to the very first piece of marriage legislation which was The Civil Marriage Act 1653….sixteen fifty-three! I think the world has moved on since then.

What’s happening now

For the last few years there has been lots of research carried out to find out into what couples want and need for their marriage ceremonies. And we’re almost at the point of potentially seeing some exciting changes to marriage law, including (fingers crossed) the move to have the individual Officiant/Celebrant licensed to conduct legal marriages, rather than the venues . There’s the Law Commision Review (an official Government review of marriage law) that has submitted its report back to the Government on their research and recommendations for what changes should be made (the report is now  waiting to be heard by Parliament). 

There’s the Give Couples Choice Movement (GCCM), which is a movement run by Celebrants, to raise awareness of changes we’d like to see for our couples – just like you – to enable you to have better choices when planning your marriage ceremony. 

And the professional body that I belong to – The Association of Independent Celebrants (AOIC) has also published a white paper on the changes they’d like to see.

What you can do

So, things are beginning to move in the right direction – this is amazing! But you can help too, by sharing any posts, like this blog post, on social media – spread the word that we want positive change for wedding couples (which includes a much broader range of individuals being able to officiate legal marriage ceremonies – such as Independent Celebrants and Humanist Celebrants). Follow the GCCM on instagram; take a look at the AOIC’s blog post which is a really clear, simple and brief summary of their aims; and if you’re feeling so inclined, write to or visit your MP to talk to them about why it’s important to give couples more choice.

To take a look at how we can work together, pop over to the Services page of the website . You can also sign up to receive tips, advice and ideas for your ceremony . Or just get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat to find out what the possibilities could be and how we can create traditions that truly reflect your personality and style.

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