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Victoria Jones PA
Victoria Jones PA
Victoria Jones PA
Victoria Jones PA
UK News

Desire to allow outside weddings and humanist ceremonies in England and Wales

by Cara Bentley

Proposals to change marriage law in England and Wales would mean couples would get a greater choice of wedding locations and it could be simpler. It also would allow humanists to conduct ceremonies. 

Currently, couples must choose between a religious or civil ceremony. Religious services must be held in a registered religious building with a minister conducting the marriage, and civil ceremonies must have a registrar in attendance and be in a licensed venue. 

The Law Commission, an independent body that aims to make laws simple, consistent and cost-effective, is arguing that the rules should be brought in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, to allow vows to take place in homes, gardens, parks, beaches and modest buildings - which in turn could make getting married cheaper. 

Civil ceremonies are currently not allowed to have any religious material, such as Bible readings or Christian hymns, but the proposed changes would mean couples could have a mixture of religious and non-religious content and have more say over their ceremony. 

The Law Commission also intends to make the marriage process more pandemic-proof, by requesting that marriages could be celebrated by video call and that giving notice of intent to marry could be done over the phone and not in person and then published online instead of at a registry office for civil ceremonies. 

It generally aims to remove red-tape around getting married, making it easier and less expensive.  

The proposals also aim to give couples more choice: allowing independent celebrants - such as Humanists - to conduct weddings, having no prescribed words and also aims to make sure some religious ceremonies which can sometimes fail to be recognised by law are seen as legally-binding. 

A consultation opened on Thursday and will stay open until 3rd December to submit opinion on the proposals. 

A spokesperson for the Church of England said: "We will study these proposals in more detail and will respond to the consultation in due course. 

"Our research shows that being married in a place that has meaning is still important to couples and their families. The moments of waiting to walk down the aisle, standing at the steps and exchanging timeless vows that can only be said in a church, and turning to walk out of the church as a newly-married couple, are cherished."

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