Couples will be able to marry in their own homes and over Zoom under new plans
3 September 2020, 14:32
The Law Commission has said current laws are outdated and need to be changed.
There have been calls for couples to be able to marry outdoors or inside family homes under new plans.
The Law Commission has criticised the current regulations which they claim are 'no longer meeting the needs of many couples'.
The guidelines have proposed private gardens, beaches, parks and cruise ships should all be considered as suitable venues.
And in the event of another pandemic, the Commission is also proposing weddings should be allowed to take place remotely, such as over Zoom.
It says such changes would allow families to hold much 'simpler and less expensive weddings.'
Current legislation in England and Wales bans couples from marrying outdoors and requires ceremonies to take place in ‘approved’ buildings such as a church or registry office.
An authorised person, such as a religious minister, must also attend the ceremony and register the marriage.
Other religions are not recognised under UK law which means some couples have to have an unofficial religious marriage followed by a legally-binding civil ceremony.
Currently, same-sex couples can also only be married in a building registered for the marriage of same-sex couples.
But the Commission says that rather than forcing couples to choose between civil and religious marriages, they should be able to hold ceremonies which reflect other beliefs.
Professor Nick Hopkins, Family Law Commissioner at the Law Commission, told BBC: “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.”
Couples in Scotland can currently marry anywhere they want, while in Northern Ireland there is also no restriction on the location of religious marriages, although civil marriages can only take place in approved venues.
The proposal will be consulted until 3 December, with a report published before the end of 2021.