Government launches review into marriage ceremonies

The Government has this week launched a Law Commission review into marriage ceremonies in England and Wales in a bid to modernise the outdated rules around wedding venues.

The project, which is the first of its kind, will review many of the current laws regarding how and where marriages can take place, some of which date back to the 19th century.

The review is set to attempt to remove unnecessary red-tape to increase the choice and lower the cost of venues. This would open up the possibility of civil ceremonies at sea, in private homes or military sites.

Under current law, couples are limited in their choice of the wedding location. Civil ceremonies must take place at register offices or in approved premises that have been licensed for the purpose by local authorities.

The proposed rule changes would ensure that couples can marry in a way that has importance to them while continuing to preserve the dignity of marriage ceremonies.

On top of this, the Government are planning to fast-track plans to allow civil weddings and civil partnerships to be held outside, with venues having to meet the existing test of solemnity and dignity.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The vital institution of marriage is a strong symbol of wider society’s desire to celebrate commitment between partners. But we can do more to bring the laws on marriage ceremonies up to date and to support couples in celebrating their commitment.

“This review will look at how we can ensure marriage keeps pace with modern Britain.”

The Law Commission will now work with a wide variety of groups, including faith leaders and those with experience of conducting marriages, to examine how best to reduce red tape and provide a simpler system regarding wedding venues.

For further information on any aspect of family law, please contact Simon Nellar on 01904 528383 or email