While many couples have had to postpone or dramatically scale back their wedding plans in 2020, next year is also set for some upheavals on the marriage front. The Law Commission of England and Wales has proposed changes to the current rules which mean that couples can only marry inside a place of worship or licenced secular venue.
The consultation on the rule change was launched in September, and is due to run until January 2021. The current rules date back to the 1836 Marriage Act, and take no account of the modern social landscape. In some cases, couples have married in a non-traditional ceremony, only to discover at a later point they have no legal status.
A reform of the law would mean that couples can marry in a venue that is personal and meaningful to them. This would include outdoor locations such as a beach or garden, or on cruise ships or in private homes. In the event of another pandemic, they could even take place via a video link.
The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, supports the changes, commenting: ‘We want couples from all walks of life to be able to marry and celebrate their love for each other in a way that is meaningful to them.’
In Scotland and Ireland, couples are already free to marry wherever they like, be it a romantic castle or a windswept mountainside. They can also be married by any official celebrant rather than a minister of religion or a registrar.
For many, the potential changes to the venue rules will be welcome news after the disappointments of 2020. Primarily of course, the happy couple themselves will have more scope to put their own personal stamp on their special day. But for all involved in the wedding industry, such as photographers and planners, this is exciting news.
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