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UK News

'It's bringing marriage to modern days': Mothers to sign marriage certificates as parent for the first time since 19th century

The mothers of the bride and groom will now be able to have their names in the official marriage register. 

While mothers are allowed to write their names as witnesses, currently only the father's name can be included as a parent, a tradition that dates back to the 1830s when marriage laws were first introduced.  

Harry Benson, research director of the Marriage Foundation, told Premier the modernisation is a welcome change. 

"[The marriage certificate] says the 'father of the bride' and 'father of the groom', and their occupations. There's no mention of the mothers. 

"It's essentially a throwback to a time when, [for] the vast majority of people, it was the father who was the working person and the mother would have been at home looking after the kids. And that obviously changed 50 years ago, so this is a long overdue change."

The amendment is part of wider changes designed to "modernise" marriage legislation and transition from a paper-based system to an electronic one. 

For example, under the new regulations, marriage registration will no longer be held in Church of England churches but instead the registry office will maintain an electronic marriage register.

Guidance issued by the Government reads: "Those marrying in the Church of England or Church in Wales will still be able to marry by ecclesiastical preliminaries. However, the member of the clergy will issue a "marriage document", similar to the schedule issued by the superintendent registrar, which is to be taken to the marriage and signed by the couple, their witnesses and the member of the clergy. The couple will be responsible for returning the signed marriage document to the register office."

Other laws such as giving couples greater freedom to choose where to get married are also being looked at. 

"The laws are actually in a state of flux at the moment...the Law Commission has been proposing that the law will change if Parliament approves it, and it will allow weddings to be conducted by people rather than in a particular building. We think these changes are all for the good," Mr Benson concluded.

The new regulations will be introduced on 4th May. 

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