In this digital age where we’re surrounded by countless images of opulent manor house weddings, chic and contemporary city celebrations through to festival-style nuptials for the bohemian bride, the vast possibilities can seem a little overwhelming. Our Pinterest feeds are bursting with inspiration, making it feel near-on impossible to make a decision.
To make things clearer, a good place to start is finding out where exactly you can get married. So, if you would like a little clarity or perhaps you need the final nudge to make a decision, we’re here to break it down for you.
Where Can I Get Married?
Firstly, congratulations you’re engaged! Your wedding day will bring all your loved ones together in celebration of you and your partners love for one another. And to kick things off, you’ll now begin embarking on your wedding planning journey.
Try and remember this time should be exciting and magical, bursting with anticipation of the big day itself. Try particularly hard when your figuring out the table plans and the flower arrangements and the caterers, and you feel as though nothing is going to plan, we promise you… it will be worth it!
Secondly, where you can get married all depends on whereabouts you are in the world. We will be sticking with the UK for now; and even here, the differences between English and Scottish laws are considerable.
Just to be clear, we’re going to be talking about the legal bits. There are definite restrictions on where you can host your official (legal) ceremony – the space must hold a marital licence for one. The reception is simply a party that can be held pretty much anywhere you like.
However, hosting your ceremony and reception in the same place makes coordination much simpler. You don’t have to transport guests to and from locations meaning the order of the day flows nicely. This is obviously slightly different if you planning a religious ceremony.
Religious Marriage Ceremonies
You can legally marry during a religious wedding ceremony that is held at premises approved by the local authority.
Approved religious ceremony venues include a church of the Church of England, Church in Wales, Church of Scotland, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church, Roman Catholic Church, a Synagogue or a Society of Friends’ Meeting House.
There are legal requirements of a religious ceremony; these are all unique to your faith. For example, Church of England offer special guidelines on marriage in the church if you have been divorced. The best thing to do is discuss the proceedings with your local parish or priest. They will be able to advise you on readings, psalms and hymns.
Civil Partnership Laws in England and Wales
Up until 2012, all marriages that took place in England and Wales had to occur between the hours of 8am and 6pm. These laws have now been relaxed, so brides and grooms can arrange a marriage ceremony at any time.
In England and Wales, by law a wedding ceremony must occur inside a building or a fixed structure. This means that unfortunately, in England and Wales, you’re not legally allowed to marry outside. Historically, this is as a precautionary measure to prevent the marriage register from becoming wet!
Some local authorities will allow you to sign the register indoors, and then continue the ceremony outside at a registered venue, but again it’s always best to double-check your own county’s interpretation of protocol.
Your marriage certificate must be signed by you, your partner and your two witnesses to be legally binding. As a result, your intimate ceremony between you and your partner must bear two witnesses.
Civil Ceremony Locations in England and Wales
Civil ceremonies commonly take place at a local authority’s registry office, and you can legally be married in this way at any local authority’s designated ceremony room. Most authorities make sure that their ceremony rooms are in pretty locations, with easy access to a garden where photographs can be taken afterwards.
Alternatively, you can hold a civil wedding ceremony at any licensed approved premises in England and Wales.
Approved premises can be found in public and private buildings, often in picturesque locations such as country hotels or stately homes. Although any other building that the local authority deems a suitable and appropriate place in which to be married can hold a licence.
If you have your heart set on getting married outside, some venues have a beautiful pagoda or even a rustic fixed structure that the happy couple simply need to stand under. There are also beach venues boasting ceremony licences in the UK. So you can get married with your sand between your toes, just don’t be surprised if you say your vows under a fixed structure.
Marquees aren’t licenced for civil ceremonies because they aren’t fixed structures. A marriage approval for your back garden is very unlikely. Ceremony licenced spaces must be open to the general public, which would be a tricky one to argue in the case of your back garden.
Civil Partnership in Scotland
In Scotland, however, the situation is very different. Weddings can take place anywhere deemed ‘safe and dignified’, including outdoor locations!
As long as the registrar approves the setting, brides and grooms are free to carry out their dream wedding virtually wherever they like. This means that it doesn’t have to occur under a fixed structure at all.
So, if you’re dreaming of a woodland wedding, a ceremony on a sweeping cliff edge or a simple, intimate gathering in your back garden, Scotland may be the answer.
Humanist Wedding Ceremony
Humanist wedding ceremonies aren’t legally recognised in England and Wales. If you’re dreaming of a hand fasting ceremony or a pagan wedding, you’ll have to organise the legal stuff beforehand.
In Scotland only, you can legally marry during a Humanist wedding ceremony. Humanist ceremonies are a fantastic option for couples who wish their marriage vows to have intrinsic spiritual significance, but have no regular connection with an established church.
Unique, dignified and truly personal – they allow the couple to decide upon the location, then to choose or compose the readings, the music, and the wording of their vows. Therefore, the ceremony is just like any other, but the legal marriage signing has to be arranged separately.
We hope this makes planning where to get married a bit clearer for you. Just remember, always double-check potential marriage locations with your local council and registrar. For any more information on civil ceremony licenced wedding venues in your local area, take a look at https://www.theweddingsecret.co.uk/wedding-venues.